Forgiveness before repentance is the biggest punishment for the concise which struggles with the guilt.
*the words in italics and bold are from the past.
That night was usual. The same cold breeze blew and the moon light illuminated the earth. But someone the meaning of usual was going to change within some moments ahead.
He looked at his phone for one more time and the maps which pointed the destination he himself typed. If it had the consequences clear and the heart to feel may be it would have never let him to reach there.
He pushed the brakes reaching the final point in his map. His steps were steady when he walked further following the GPS as his car could not go in those narrow streets.
Finally he was at the door ready to knock it. He had been waiting for this from a time which felt like ages.
He took a deep breath and patted on the door and waited for it to open from its other end. His heartbeat was usual and calm. A wide smile spread on his lips while the door opened.
The old lady who opened the door looked around and found him standing in front of her with a grin. She scanned her memory to match his face. But her confusion made it evident that she had not known him at all.
“Namaste” he folded his hands looking at the lady. She weakly smiled at him and tried to understand his cloaked intentions.
“Ji. My name is Sahil. Sahil Raheja” he cleared her about his identity. The lady was still unsure if she knew the man. But nothing helped her aged memory.
“Um. I actually came inquiring about one of your paying guest” he said and the lady allowed him inside as she did not wanted her uninvited guest also to stay outside. He settled on the old couch. The lady sat in front of him waiting for further clarification.
“I have got this address from the RTO office. Registered for a two wheeler” he said and the lady narrowed her eyebrows.
“But beta. I don’t have a two wheeler” she said confused. “No it ain’t yours. Actually I have got some information that it is of the girl who lived with you as a paying guest” he said and the lady tried to remember.
“I don’t know her name. She had lost all her identity proofs before the accident and other than that registration number I have nothing” he said hopefully.
“I live here alone Beta and to avoid it I intake paying guests and may be by now there have been dozens of paying guest who lived here. I wont be able to help you without the name sorry” she had the regret in her eyes.
Sahil’s lips dropped as he had reached the dead end. He took a bit of time to process the things. “Um anyone who disappeared suddenly?” he tried one more link. “Plenty of them disappear suddenly. And I have become used to the undaid good byes by now” she smiled sadly.
Sahil closed his eyes not able to contain the disappointment. That was the end of everything. His search for the girl who was responsible for the accident. The girl who can put a full stop to Sanskar’s guilt trip. The one who can make Sanskar blame free.
But it was the end.
Sahil stood up to walk dejected. His steps were heavy and uncertain. He was never going to get a clue at all.
“If you tell me the date or something I can try to remember” the lady said and his face lit up. How can he missed the very important detail.
He turned to the lady. That wasn’t the pleasant date for him to remember. But he had no way other than that. “Almost six years ago” he said and the lady shuffled every detail in her memory. “Six years ago there were three paying guests. I certainly don’t remember if any of them had a two wheeler. But in those one girl had disappeared suddenly I can be certain of.” the lady adjusted her spectacles.
“What was her name?” he tried hard to remember. “But she was a bubbly cute girl. I can never forget her. Her name was Ragini” the lady said and his heart felt dead right there. “Ragini are you sure? Isn’t something else?” he asked his eyebrows knitted closely.
“I sure remember her now. Crazy little pumpkin. She was the life personified. Haa now I remember she had a vehicle but not sure two wheeler only” she said with a broad smile.
His eyes were bugged out as he continued to process the things. ‘That name is so common. It can’t be our Ragini’ his mind spoke and he tried relaxing his heart.
Sahil was unaware of the time and place Vikram met Ragini. But he sure knew she was admitted due to accident only. ‘No I am just over thinking’ his mind reasoned.
Where the mind and heart battle over such situation here his mind was consoling his heart which only went panicking with each passing second.
He brought his phone out and shuffled the gallery to find Ragini’s photograph. ‘No what am I doing. It can’t be Ms.Collider for sure’ he tried placing the phone back in his pocket but it slipped out of his hand and the lady grabbed it and her eyes stationed at the mobile screen.
Sahil stood looking at the facial expression of the lady. ‘No. I don’t want to know any truth. Why did I even come here? I don’t want any answer’ he made a decision.
“This is the same girl. Ragini” the lady looked up with a wide smile. And that sentence sure made him dead. He for a moment stopped breathing. ‘No. It can’t be true’ his heart spoke.
“You must be mistaken. She cannot be the one” Sahil smiled taking his phone back. “Arrey beta. I sure take time to recognize but I am very sure of it” she said still that smile intact.
“You know her then why are you asking me?” she looked at him confused. “Maaji please try to remember and tell me this is not that girl” Sahil’s eyes developed the hot tears. He was trying hard to control them.
The lady looked at him puzzled. “You don’t believe me right? Wait” she said walking inside her room and brought a photograph where Ragini was posing with the lady.
Sahil’s hands shivered and legs felt weak and he collapsed crashing his knees on the ground. “No” he whispered as the hot liquid gushed down his eyes and burned his cheek and a sour lump formed in his throat blocking his breathing.
“No” he nodded his head. “It can’t be true” he mumbled. He was staring the ground. And more and more tears flew out of his eyes. “How can this happen?” his heart refused to beat. He walked towards his car aimlessly. “It cannot be true” he said again and again to himself.
“It certainly cannot be” he wiped his tears only to break into a bitter cry reaching the bonnet of his car. He slid down leaning to it and let out a loud cry. Like a wounded animal which can only cry over its pain he was not able to form words.
He remembered how he found Sanskar and Kumud covered in blood that day. He remembered how he was determined to find the real culprit. His mind played that last moment when Kumud breathed last and he could not reach her to listen to her voice for the last time.
He hit his clenched fist to the ground until it bled. But the pain within his soul had left a an non healing scar. He somehow gathered himself and drove the car towards his home.
When he reached for his son’s room wanting to get relieved of the pain a bit he saw something which melted his heart more.
“I will also be alone mumma? What if you and papa also go away like Elsa and Anna’s parent?” he asked innocently looking at Ragini who was near his head caressing his hair with care. “I don’t have a sister also” he said sad.
“Don’t even dream that I will ever leave you baby. Even if God will take me away I will fight the world just to come back to you” she smiled through her twinkling eyes and kissed his forehead.
Ansh drifted to sleep while he felt the warm motherly love through the pats Ragini was placing on his forehead.
Sahil’s grip on the cold knob tightened and he winced as the pain of the wound came alive. Ragini turned her gaze to the door. “Sadu” she looked at him confused. Her eyes darted to his hand. It was bleeding.
“Sahil” she neared him pushing the quilt aside. “Oh my god” she held his wounded hand. Sahil stood non responding. “Are you mad? Where did you hit you hand to?” asked Ragini looking at it painfully.
He still did not answer but just stared her with zero expression. She dragged him along and made him sit on the couch. She looked around for the first aid box. She reached for it on the side table near Ansh’s bed. Luckily Ansh was already asleep.
She cleaned his wound and applied ointment tying the band aid. “Done” she smiled looking up. Sahil leaped forward and hugged her tightly.
Ragini was taken aback. Sahil cried bitterly closing his eyes but that cry did not leave his throat. Ragini looked confused. She tried moving her hand to reach his back. But it was too hard.
“Sahil” she said and tried to bring him out of the hug. Finally her palm reached his shoulder. “I’m sorry” he whispered painfully. She moved him to face her.
“For what?” asked she confused. ‘For not able to hate you. For killing all my anger which I fueled all these years for the girl who made my life upside down’ he spoke in his mind the words which could not come out of his throat.
“Just felt like saying” he wiped the tear. “Hey” she placed her hand on his shoulder. “Waise you outdone yourself today at looking like a disaster” she tried to lighten his mood. He chuckled weakly wiping his eyes.
“Glad that I outdid myself. You do try it. Someday you will also outdo yourself from looking like a chudail” he said and Ragini frowned. “Lucky you. Your tears spared you from more insult” she rolled her eyes.
He chuckled again lightly. He stood up to walk. “Sahil” his steps stopped. “You are okay right?” she asked squeezing her eyes. He turned and gave her a little smile.
“I feel like I am going to be okay” he said and walked towards his room. Ragini nodded her head and walked to Ansh’s bed and lied beside him patting his head lightly.
Sahil reached his room and slid down the door letting out all the held emotions. “I am sorry Kumud. I really am sorry. I cannot… I” his voice broke.
“I cannot even try to have that anger towards her. It is just pain. Pain that I am not able to contain this sudden changes in my feelings. I tried a lot to get out of it but I am failing. I cannot push her away. Not now. Never” he looked up. He closed his eyes lying on the cold floor.
While he was in sleep he felt someone’s presence and opened his eyes. “Sahil” Kumud smiled at him and her shining eyes and glittering soul made him lost.
She signed him to near her and he walked to her. She was standing at the balcony and he stood beside her. “You remember that?” she pointed at a distant plant. He followed her hand and found the small plant which bore a white flowers.
“I had bought it from Ooty when we had been together after the marriage” she smiled and Sahil nodded his head. “You remember those days it was hard for us. Because Mom was against us” she said and Sahil remembered the initial struggle in their marriage.
“But this plant gave me that strength to stay strong while you were busy with new business responsibilities” he looked at her. “I don’t complain. You were doing for our future” she nodded her head.
“But somewhere my soul got connected to that plant. Whenever it bloomed a new flower everyday it felt like it was telling me to smile and I used to smile” Sahil smiled at her. “But then one day it died” she said sadly.
“I was so so so sad that day remember? I had made your life hell that day” she said and Sahil chuckled a bit. He nodded his head.
“But in few days I noticed the plant has left its offspring behind. And I felt so heavenly that it did not wanted to leave me alone” she smiled widely.
She turned to him this time. “It is not necessary from whom you get love. Important is you are getting the most of it and the person is giving you all part of their emotion” she furrowed her eye brows.
Sahil moved to touch her but she smiled before disappearing. His hands dropped.
Her words played again and again in his mind. He closed his eyes smiling widely remembering the moments of Ragini with Ansh.
Finally grasping his wife’s words.
He smiled as the tear traveled through his cheek. All had fixed their eyes on him. “Because important is you are getting most of it and the person is giving you all part of their emotion” he smiled reciting the same sentence.
“Huh” Ragini left that long breath she had been holding.
“Maa” Ansh neared her. He tried touching her but she moved back. She nodded her head looking at him. She could not raise her gaze to look at anyone standing there.
“Ragini” Sahil neared Ansh. “Why?” she whispered. “Why didn’t you hate me? Why didn’t you punish me?” she screamed.
He tried touching her but she moved back. “You should have punished me” she clenched her fist. “You should have” she brought the seriousness to her face.
She placed her hand on her forehead while everything about Sanskar’s behavior played in her mind. She looked at Sanskar who still facing his back to her.
Vikram was too shocked. He was not feeling anything. “Vikky” Sriti placed her hand on his shoulder. “Tell me all this some kind of a joke before I break that moron’s bones” he finally spoke pointing at Sahil.
Sriti nodded her head with the tears in her eyes. She pressed her lips to control her emotions.
“How can… ho… how can you even say all that? Just to save your brother?” Vikram stood in front of Sahil and held him by his collar. “No…no… I will never agree to this. I will never” Vikram nodded his head looking down.
“Tell me it is a lie” he screamed. Sahil looked at him painfully. Vikram left his collar and neared Ragini. He dragged her into a suffocating hug. “No bacha. It is not true. Sahil is saying it to just to save Sanskar. How can you be responsible for this? You cannot. You” his throat formed a lump.
Ragini with much difficulty moved out of his embrace and walked a bit away. “I don’t deserve it. Bha…” she stopped herself. “I don’t even have the right to call you that. I snatched everything from you all. I was responsible for Kumud dee’s accident” she hiccuped.
“I…. am a murderer. You know whom I killed?” she pointed at herself. “His innocence. His concise. I killed his every emotion. I killed everyone’s love for him” she pointed at Sanskar.
“I will never ever forgive myself for this. And you know Sahil who is responsible for this?” she asked him. “You both are” she pointed him and Sanskar.
“He did not let me repent. And you” she looked at him with her squeezed eyes. “You forgave me with an unasked sorry” she was defeated.
“And thank you for making me hate myself for every bit of my life. For every inch of my skin” she cried holding her neck.
“You made me a sinner whose burden on her soul is something she can never get rid off. She can never” she closed her eyes.
“And increasing on my guilt as I cannot have the feeling that I deserve any of their emotions anymore. I don’t deserve any of this. These relationships, this love, this affection. I don’t deserve even an ounce of it” she nodded her head.
Sanskar did not turn back still. He could not see her in that state. He had no courage.
“Ragini” Yohan rushed to her while she collapsed after her sight blacked. While all rushed to her Sanskar slowly turned and stood dead. He watched Yohan patting her cheek and trying to wake her up. Her face was brimmed with the tears and the skin of it had turned red. He did not had the strength to face what followed. He collapsed in his place defeated. ‘Why am I still alive?’ his heart questioned and refused to beat.
Warning it’s just the beginning.
Okay I have lot of emotions to write still. So be ready for it but I can’t assure anything will be beyond this chapter.
Gotta wipe those tears.
Hope you have enjoyed it.