SWARAGINI (The Next Man in Kolkata) CHAPTER 1 (Part 5)

This is Sowmya Johnson Aka Berdilla.

Ragini was hot and tired and thirsty, and she had to go to the bathroom. She wished she had stayed in Bhuvaneshwar. Ragini wished Gunjan was still around to tell stories and give her advice that she would never need to use. Abhi drank with noisy slurps, then she sat him on her lap and awkwardly burped him.

What do you want? Mayank asked.

I want what’s best for Abhi. I promised to bring him to his father. Ragini studied the Mayank’s expression. Mayank was handsome, with those dark eyes and short brownish hair. Mayank Sharma looked the part of a Kolkata Rancher, all right. Mayank was covered in dust, dirt streaked one side of his face, and his jaw was square and set in an uncompromising position. That boy has the chin, Padma said.

He sure did.

Are you his father? It was a simple question. Ragini assumed he’d tell the truth.

No, Mayank said.

Are there any other Sharma I could talk to about this? Ragini Asked.

I’ll take care of that, Mayank said.

I can’t leave him until i know he’s going to be all right. I have to contact Gunjan’s lawyer when i get back and—-

Lady, you’re not going anywhere. Not until this is straightened out.

I really can’t do that.

You don’t have any choice. I’m not the baby’s father, so you haven’t delivered him to the father Right?

How do i know you’re telling the truth?

Mayank smiled grimly. You don’t. But you and i know you can’t leave this child with strangers. You drive out of here and i call Children’s Services and have that boy put in their custody until we get to the bottom of this.

You would do that?

Mayank leaned forward. I’m sure as hell not going to baby-sit someone else’s kid while a woman I’ve never seen blackmails me into taking responsibility for him.

He’s not yours? Ragini asked

The Sharma aren’t known to be family men. You’ve walked into the wrong place.

Ragini’s arms tightened around the child. She had done her best. She could take Abhi and go home now. And she would do her best to make sure that little Abhi grew up safe and happy and healthy. Okay, she agreed. I’ll have my lawyer call you if there are any problems with the adoption process.

His eyes narrowed Adoption process?

Yes, She put Abhi up to her shoulder and stood. If you don’t want him, I’ll find a nice childless couple who does.

I didn’t say i didn’t want him. I said i wasn’t his father. He stood too and looked down at her as he put his hands on his hips. I’m not a liar, and i never heard of Gunjan, but i intend to find out who’s going around writing ‘Sharma’ on birth certificates.

If you’re not his father, you can’t—-.

Mayank smiled, as if amused by her innocence. Lady, there are other Sharmas here. You’re staying and Abhi is staying until we figure out what the hell is going on.

Other Sharmas? Oh heavens. What on earth had she gotten herself into?

Yeah

Ragini pretended that she was still in control of the situation. Can i talk to them, please?

You’ll meet them all soon enough, but for right now, this little problem stays between us. I don’t want everyone in town talking about the Sharma bastard.

Ragini gulped, I’m sure i don’t want that, either, Mr. Sharma.

Mayank, he corrected her. Call me Mayank. I don’t want you talking about this with the boys, either. That’s my job. From now you’re a distant cousin of my mother’s from chennai who’s here for the party. Abhi he is your son. You’ve just gotten a divorce.

I have?

Yeah. If anyone asks, just say that Shilpa Sharma was your mother’s third cousin.

Who’s that?

My mother.

She won’t mind?

She’s dead, he said, and the tiniest shadow of pain crossed his face.

I’m sorry.

He shrugged it happened a long time ago. Now, people won’t be coming here for the party yet, but as far as my brothers are concerned—

A party? Ragini wished she could retrace her steps, reconsider this morning’s decision and fade quietly back into the woodwork.

My youngest brother is turning twenty-one in a couple of weeks. We’re having a big shindig to celebrate.

Brothers. She hadn’t thought of that, either. Ragini sighed. She had been spending too much time at her computer and not enough time in the real world. There could have been a wife, but thank goodness there wasn’t. There could have been other Sharmas, and there were. Brothers. Mayank Sharma could be lying about not fathering a child or he could be telling the truth, but she really had no choice but to go along with this. For Abhi’s sake, anyway. If he had a father here on the farm then he should have the chance to be seen by him.

Ragini squared her shoulders. How many brothers?

Three.

Ragini had a sinking feeling in her chest. And their names?

Mayank leveled that steady gaze on her. Sidhant Mahi (Played By Karan Wahi introduced in chapter one 1 or 2nd part i think), Manish (Played By Varun Kapoor now only i am going to introduce varun and namish) and Manik (Played By Namish Taneja), the Sharma man drawled. Not going to be as easy as you thought, is it.

What about cousins, uncles, brothers-in-law?

Mayank Sharma shook his head. Nope. It’s the four of us. We’re the last of the line.

Not exactly.

His eyebrows rose. Maybe. All you have is a baby and a birth certificate. And that baby has the Sharma chin. Anyone can see the resemblance.

We’ll see, he said. Let me show you to a room.

I could stay in town, she offered, not comfortable with the idea of staying in a stranger’s house.

No way, The less you and Abhi are seen in town, the better. I don’t want any of this to get out and spoil Manik’s (namish) party. He just graduated from college. With honors. And a chance to study in Mumbai.

Really? That’s impressive.

He’s the smartest Sharma I’ve ever seen. Takes after my mother. She liked to read, too. When she had the time.

Before Ragini could ask him anything else, he led her down a hall into a separate wing of the house and into a bright corner room on the first floor. The floor was tiled and dotted with faded rag rugs. There was a single bed covered with a bright blue cotton spread, a pine chest of drawers and ladder-backed chair.

I’ll bring in the baby’s thing from your car, Mayank said. Do you think you’ll need anything else?

She needed a glass of coffee and a few days’ vacation, but she’d settle for a washcloth and a chance to change Abhi’s diaper. Can you tell me where the bathroom is?

Down the hall, the second door on your right. Ask Padma to get you anything you need, He glanced at Abhi, who rested his head on Ragini’s shoulder and stared at the cowboy with big brown eyes.

Just Abhi’s bed for now, thank you.

He nodded. I’ll be right back. And he left her there, holding the baby and gazing out the window into an enormous courtyard. Courtyard? Ragini stepped closer to the window, which she noticed was actually a narrow door that led outside. A wheelbarrow stood in the middle, as if someone had been weeding or diging. Pots of flowers sat to one side as if they were waiting to be planted. The house was a Spanish design the walls were adobe and appeared old. It was the kind of home she’d dreamed of as a child, the kind in magazines where beautiful mothers and handsome fathers smiled at each other and their sweet-looking children. It was the kind of place she’d longed to belong to, but that had never happened, and never would.

How about that? She asked the baby. You might be living in real hacienda. Abhi’s head lay heavy on her shoulder, and he seemed content to be held. His little legs were relaxed, and one hand played with her hair. Your name will be Abhi Sharma. You’ll have a daddy and maybe your own horse. Won’t that be nice?

Ragini wished Abhi could talk and agree with her so she would feel better about leaving him. There was nothing to stop her from leaving and taking the child with her. Nothing but a birth certificate, a promise to Gunjan and a very large cowboy. He could call the police could accuse her of kidnapping. He might not want a scandal, but he wanted the truth.

She would stay for tomorrow, until she found Abhi’s father. She wasn’t leaving until she’d done what she’d promised Gunjan. Little Abhi was going to have a family.

Chapter 1 Finished

To be Continued…..

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