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A/N: Okay this was the surprise I was talking about for RagSan fans. Actually I thought of updating this on republic day. Koi ni for people like me dates really don’t matter but the reason matters. Hope you people will like it. Happy reading
“Mom please I told na I don’t wanna come” I said my mom for the hundredth time. “But it’s such important day for your brother though Laksh is your cousin he is closest companion of yours Sanskar” said my mom. Back to her emotional athyachar. “But mom I don’t wanna step in that country. You know right” again I tried her explaining. “Stop being a spoil sport. See your granny is in her last days and she wants to see you for the last time. At least for her” said my mom. “Let me think about it. But I’m just saying I will think. Don’t expect me to come” I said her clearly and disconnected the call.
As I was drinking the water I remembered my moments with my granny and my lips curved into a wide smile. Finally I listened to my heart and dialed a number. “I want tomorrow’s flight and handle the works for two weeks. Is that clear” I instructed my P.A before going to bed.
“Sanskar still time is there think about it” I told myself standing at the check in counter. “Sir ticket please” said the lady in the reception bringing me out of my thoughts. I smiled at her and forwarded my tickets and visa documents. And the last chance slipped from my hand.
I stood outside the airport. Nervousness covered me and I was feeling weird. Returning after 23 years was not easy. I did not wanted to return also. I never liked being here. I was thinking of returning from the next flight and turned to the airport then I heard my bro Lakshya’s voice “Sanskar” and I had no escape now and I turned with pursed lips which were trying to hide my annoyance. He smiled widely and I knew his next step. He ran and hugged me in a bone powdering hug ya that’s what I call his hug. I have witnessed it 5 years back when he had visited us in Amsterdam. I thought that is the last day of my life. Finally he left me. I thanked God for the new life. After a formal talk we headed to his home. I was sweating very badly. As soon as I sat inside the car I felt relaxed as the ac air touched my skin cooling me. One of the reason my reluctance to visit this country is the heat and humidity. I cursed my stupid heart again for this decision.
We were at the entrance of Maheshwari Mansion which was decorated for Lakshya’s marriage. Gosh so many flowers. I can never understand Indians obsession with flowers and decorations and glitters. My mind was just counting the things which are the reason for me to not like this country as the time passed. As I entered I was surrounded by my over excited cousins and relatives who literally made me suffocated and an urge to run away from them.
“Thank you so much” said my mom smiling widely. I just could nod my head. She sensed my nervousness and she could make out how uncomfortable I was being there. She caressed my hair and said “Marriage functions will start from tomorrow and try mingling with others it will help you to spend your time” Her suggestion seemed good. “Dadi maa has come?” I asked her. “She will come after haldi, she did not get the tickets” said mom and I looked at her confused. “Train tickets Sanskar” said she. “But why did not she get it?” I asked her. “Here you have to book the tickets 3 months earlier” said she smiling. “What?” I almost screamed. “Ya” she said casually. “We are 125 crore of population so it happens” said Lakshya interrupting mom. “Of course” I smirked.
It was Lakshya’s Haldi function. “Yew” I said when I saw people applying him turmeric paste on his face and hands and shoulders. And he was smiling like a idiot. Uff I wondered how can someone have so much time to waste for marriage. We just spend half a day for it and here you start preparing from the day your kid has turned above 20. You are 125 crore still you take almost 2 to 3 years to find a match, 1 year for preparations and blo*dy weak for rituals of marriage. An hour to chant mantras. Minimum 500 to maximum unlimited number of people waste their time for this. And I was one of them now. “Sanskar” called Badi maa bringing me out of my thoughts and I neared her smiling. “Chalo will go to Girls house we have to give this Haldi to them” said she and I was baffled. I looked at my mom who pleaded me with her emotional blackmail again. I sighed and followed Badi maa.
“Dadi maa has come” said Lakshya calling me when I was getting ready in my room. I combed my hair and headed out of the room folding the sleeves of my shirt. Finally I was doing something for which I came here and tolerating everything. As soon as she spotted me my dadi ma hugged me and sobbed. I could feel her tears on my shirt. “Finally you came” said she smiling through her tears. I wiped her tears and hugged her again. I don’t know it felt strange . Like something worth of all my struggles all these days. She caressed my hair with her wrinkled hand and it made my smile widen. Her beatings her love her affection filled my memory.
“Ragini” she called from her cracking voice. “Ayi naanu” said a voice from my back and she passed me and held dadi in her hold and helped Dadi to settle in her room. She attracted me instantly I don’t know why. I kept observing her. Her bangles, her bindi her simple looks made my heart race and her name made a kind of melody in my ears as her name was. “Ragini” repeated my mind and my lips curved without my knowledge. She laughed when Dadi told her something.
As soon as I entered MM I had been witnessing girls flirting and trying to get close to me but she did not even see my face. I liked her attitude. I like it when girls challenge me and I accepted the challenge. And she disappeared inside Dadi’s room and I bent and tried getting a glimpse her for the last time. She peeped out to close the door of the room and as her eyes traveled they met mine. And my heart started flying with unknown joy. And I smiled but she had the null expression and same attitude. For a second I felt do I look so bad. And my smile faded when she closed the door. OMG tough girl. Finally I got something which will make my time pass with ease
“Ladoo” said Lakshya when we were sitting on terrace and I asked him about the girl who was helping Dadi. “But Dadi told her name Ragini na” said I and he smiled and said “That’s her name but I call her Ladoo her nick name” One more trend here unusual nick names and I sighed. “It sounds like some sweet” I said and he said “That is Laddu. Don’t you dare to call her that” said he warning. I looked at him confused. “People usually get confused with her nick name and call her Laddu which irks her and she will show you Durga devi darshan” said he scared. “What is that?” I asked him with weird face. “Most angry women in the world” he said but still I could only understand that she gets angry due to it and I nodded my head like I understood his point. “I have never seen her when I was here” I asked him confused. “She was born after a year you people shifted from here. She is Janaki bua’s daughter” said he and I smiled at him. “Janaki bua?” I asked him. “She died while giving birth to her. From then Dadi only had taken care of her” said he. “What about her dad?” I asked him curious. “He married for the second time and disowned her” said he sad and I felt bad for her. No wonder she doesn’t acknowledge men presence. “Why are you asking about her? Anything special ha?” asked he teasing me. “No no Laksh nothing like that just was curious” I tried explaining him.
“Maa have you seen Ragini?” I asked my mom. My mom gave me skeptical look. Then I realized what did I speak to her. “Wo actually Dadi maa was calling her. So I was just” said I and tried to control my excitement. But moms are moms and she sensed what was I upto actually. “She is with your Badi maa in kitchen” said she and controlled her laugh. Ahhh I made a fool of myself in front of my mom. It wasn’t that I have not seen girls more beautiful than her but the way she used to make my heart race nobody had done it till now. I forgot all my problems and started mingling with everyone enthusiastically. And everyone was happy due to it and I was happy more importantly.
I walked to the kitchen hesitant.
And when I stood near the door of the kitchen I saw her smiling and helping badi maa. She wiped the sweat with her forehand. I saw the fan beside me and turned it to her side to help her without realizing that she was working in kitchen. I saw them panicking and she signed me something and I was so lost in her face I could not hear what she was saying. She approached me furiously and I wondered why is she angry so much did I call her Laddu. No I did not utter a word also then what did I do. Now I saw most angry woman Durga Devi I understood Laksh’s words now. She pushed me a bit and I kept staring her and she turned the fan off and glared me. “Arrey Ragini he was just helping us as we were feeling hot na so” said Badi maa. “Ek number ka khajur” said she fuming. “Sorry?” I asked her bending my head. “Angrez” said she one more word and again I did not get what she was saying. I looked at her confused. She fumed and walked back to badi maa. “Ragu” said Badi maa glaring her. “Don’t take her words seriously Sanskar she was just worried as all the things got scattered due to the fan wind” said Badi maa and I realized why was she angry.
“Oh I’m sorry badi maa” said I apologizing. “Say sorry” said Badi maa hitting Ragini with her elbow. “Sorry” said she pouting angry and again my heart raced discovering her new expression. I smiled nervously. “Sanskar beta you needed something?” asked Badi maa. “Wo dadi was calling Ragini” I said in a go and she rushed out wiping her hands. And I followed her.
“Me why?” said she annoyed when Dadi maa told her to accompany me for my spree to explore the city as I was getting hell bored. “Who knows this city better than you Lado and see I cannot accompany him you know na after haldi I cannot step out” said Laksh pleading her. “Hello dramebaz I saw you visiting Swara last night” she blurted and Laksh immediately closed her mouth and he glared her and I sensed something in her eyes which pierced my heart. She kept staring him and stood nervous due to his closeness. Does she like him. The thought made me weak. “Laksh” said Dadi maa glaring him and he stood lowering his head as he withdraw his hands from her. I saw her wiping a tear which was escaping her eye at the corner and it made my heart break into pieces. “Okay fine” she said and twisted her lips and walked in to get ready. I headed inside.
“Maa why did not badi maa thought of making Ragini her bahu?” I asked my mom while she was helping me to wear my blazer.
My mom’s face fell and she looked at me through mirror and placed her chin on my shoulder. “Actually that’s what we thought from the time she was born but destiny had something else. Laksh fell in love when he had gone to Mumbai for his studies and we had no other choice. Poor Ragini she always dreamed about marrying Lakshya but she only convinced everyone for Laksh’s marriage. You know Sanskar it’s the problem with girls here once they consider someone as their husband it is very difficult to come out of it” said she. Though she was going through so much she was so happy or was she pretending to be happy. How can she smile beyond so much pain. I started respecting her for her acceptance power. She really had such big heart.
“Gosh this is why I don’t like this country” I said wiping the excessive sweat escaping me forehead like rainfall. “This country has a name” I saw her boiling. “Ya I know India” said I sarcastically. “The Republic of India” she replied back. I did not knew it. “When did this happened?” I asked her confused. “What?” she asked. “When did they changed the name of your country?” I asked her. “We did not change. It was always that. The way you call The United States of America our country name is The Republic of India. It’s your country too” said she. “You know I’m a green card holder. So I’m American” said I proudly. “But you are a NRI Non Residential Indian also. Which country gives you so much respect even when you have disowned it” she said proudly. “See madam. I’m not in this patriotic games so keep me out of it” I said her. “Why? You are scared you will fail?” asked she challenging.
“What do you mean by I will fail? I will prove you in seconds that this country has nothing which can be felt proud of” I said her annoyed. “Challenge accepted. I will prove that even if you have left India, India has not left you” she said smirking. “Fine all the best” I said and smirked at her.
When we were walking down the road I saw the flag on the road. I picked it up and brushed it and tucked it nearby pole. She smirked looking at me. “See it was a flag. You should respect all the country flags” said I reasoning her. “And where did you learn it?” she asked. I traveled back in my memory. “First standard when I was studying in Kendriya Vidyalay Jaipur” I told her and her smile gave her reply and I caressed my hair and I signed her to walk further. Must say she is intelligent and first time in life I was so happy that I failed.
“How was the day out?” asked Lakshya as soon as I entered my room. “Gosh she is mad yar Laksh. She just kept giving lecture about patriotism. She bored me like hell” I said as I removed my shirt. I did not hear Laksh’s voice and I turned doubtfully. He was standing scared and Ragini was fuming beside him. I covered myself with my blazer.
“You wear such thick dresses and sweat and you blame my country for it. You eat the food of this country which is imported in US and complain that our food is unhygienic. Wah.” said she clapping her hands. “Truly you are an American only because we Indians don’t have habit of betraying or speaking bad about the country which gave us so much. You came here for your Dadi maa.
Why? Have you asked yourself once. Because the Indian inside you made you come here to fulfill the last wish of your Dadi. Why do you touch elder’s feet even before anybody tells you? Because it is the indian inside you which makes you to do so. If I go counting on things like this whole your life isn’t enough to collect it. But still you curse yourself for being here” said she and turned to Laksh and said “And still people here feel proud to have unworthy people like you” and stormed out fuming. “Her Dadaji was freedom fighter with whom she spent her childhood. That’s why she is too much patriotic” said Laksh and I saw her again coming back and saying “Patriotism is not weird. It’s sad that people feel it weird” said she and walked back taking her ear ring which was fallen. Laksh kept his hand on his chest and sighed.
“I love you” I whispered standing beside her and she looked at me shocked and I continued showering flower on Laksh and Swara who were taking rounds around the holy fire. “And I hate you” she said and walked from there annoyed. I followed her. “Leave me” said she when I held her wrist. “Give me a chance yar Ragini how can you reject my proposal. Here girls are dying to get married to me and you are showing attitude” I said her twirling. “Oh then please save those girls not me” she said and tried getting out of my hold. I dragged her more close to me and she looked up at me shocked. “Please” I said shrinking my eyes. “I said I hate you means I hate you” said she. “But why?” I asked her confused. “Because I cannot marry a person who doesn’t value my country” she said and I couldn’t control my laugh. She fumed more. “I wasn’t saying any joke Mr” said she. “Okay okay. I will say I love my India I love my India. Shall I sing. Now okay?” I asked her mocking. “Over?” she asked and released her hand from my hold and stormed from there.
“Okay shall we leave Sanskar?” asked my mom and brought me to reality when I was busy searching her. I smiled at her weakly and nodded my head and we walked out. I failed to notice she was watching me from terrace and tears were flowing from her eyes. I felt strange like I’m leaving something behind which is very precious to me. I badly wanted her in my life. I did not wanted to go leaving her.
“Indian” said I when the lady who was sitting in the reception asked me my country of origin at the global meet in Dubai. And I felt my eyes welling up. I don’t know why. I have never called myself that but today I felt proud feeling to be addressed that way. Whenever I saw the Indian flag that gave me a pleasure an unknown pleasure. My thoughts about my country yes my country my India changed drastically from the time I returned from India. Yes now I say that word frequently. And I feel proud also while saying it. It looks sarcastic but the patriotism I made fun of few months back has covered me now.
When I was walking in the mall for shopping I saw a old granny struggling. “What happened?” I asked her sitting beside her. “I forgot to get my insulin” she said with difficulty. I found a chocolate shop nearby and brought a candy for her. She ate it and thanked me when she gained herself. “Indian?” she asked me and I smiled at her. “How did you know?” I asked her. “You came to my help without thinking of consequences. Here where people are busy looking into their mobiles I have experienced only Indians helping me so far immediately” said she and folded her hands in Namaste and I smiled at her proudly and folded my hands
“We Indians have that compassion towards others. Yes we are diverse but first thing we consider is humanity than color caste creed” I remembered her words.
“I request all the audience to stand up for national anthem” said the presenter at the business meet in Amsterdam and I stood up immediately. Though I know the national anthem of US but first word comes in my mouth when National Anthem mentioned is Jana of Jana gana mana. Though they were singing the US national anthem I sang Jana Gana Mana in my heart proudly.
“You grow how much ever old but you will not forget one word also of Jana Gana Mana. Its my challenge. You can still sing it flawlessly” said she and I was surprised on my memory the anthem I sang almost 23 years back was still in my memory as fresh. I never forgot it. I came back to present and sat on my chair and concentrated on the conference.
“You were right Ragini” I said standing in front of her panting for breath as soon as I entered MM and spotted her in kitchen. She looked at me confused. My bag was still on my back. “I can leave India but India will never leave me” I said and smiled. Gosh I ran from a kilometer to meet her as the taxi was spoiled just a kilometer away from MM. “Will you marry me Ms Ragini Gadodia and make my new house in Jaipur a home?” I asked her. The plate in her hand slipped and she stood shocked. Yes I shifted my business to India and was planning to contribute in the development of my developing country. “I torn that green card and I have already applied for a Indian Passport, now tho at least agree” I pleaded her kneeling in front of her and she looked at me shocked. I did not realize everyone was watching us. “Please” I pleaded her. “Are you mad?” she asked me. “Ya I was one but you repaired me” I said and she controlled her smile and everyone burst out laughing
“So beta we should not run from our country and hate it that there are problems but should stay and decide to rectify it instead of complaining” I told my grandson who was sitting on my lap. He smiled nodding his head and ran from there. I looked outside my cabin. Today I’m the chairman of “Indian” group of Industries; one of the top industrial chain of India which has employed crores of people across India. We have come up with plans to help the government to improve the infrastructure of our country and we run a chain of schools across country to provide the basic and skilled education to the kids who come from below poverty line families. I turned and approached Ragini’s photo which was hanged on the wall and covered with garland. “I know you are so happy looking at your country’s progress even I’m so proud of our nation. Soon our country will reach the heights we dreamed about it.
But I miss you so much” said I caressing her face. She left me while giving birth to our son but she was always with me in my heart in my thoughts in my dreams about my country about my India. “I love my India, The republic of India” I told proudly and my eyes welled up again. She was right we might leave India but the India within us will never leave us. Our patriotism is our character not just feeling it never leaves us and it should not leave us also.