As they had their dinner, they headed towards their respective rooms.
While moving to her room, Sita felt an urge to have a walk in some fresh air. She took a leave from Ram, who assured her to join shortly.
A smiling Sita walked through the gardens, soothing breeze was tangling her hair, her feet were being nourished by the dew on the grass indicating a cold night, her eyes admired the peace around and looking beyond the trees she noticed someone behind the shrubs on the other end of garden.
She followed the figure and was introduced to Lakshman. A smile peeped from her lips. She approached him from the back,
Lakshman turned around hastily as if he was doing a secret job. His expanded eyes got relaxed on seeing Sita.
“Bhabhi! Its you.” He paused for a while lowering his eyes again started,
“What happened? You wanted something?”
“no no, was just having a night walk.”
“your Bhaiya is coming in a while…” saying so she bent a little to her left and saw some flowers in Lakshman’s hand, which he kept at his back.
“by the way… what were you doing here ALONE” she chuckled, bringing his hand in the front
“Aah”Bhabhi– Nothing” he blushed on getting caught. “I was just… as you gave me so much knowledge of nature all these years… Urmi loves these flowers” he smiled broadly showing his teeth.
“Bhabhi I should leave, she must be waiting for me.” Lakshman took few big steps then turned and noticed a grinning Sita.
“Bhabhi, she has waited a lot, now I don’t want to leave a single change to make her happy!”
The naughtiness in the air flew off as he headed inside. Sita adored him to another level today. By now she had witnessed a loyal brother, a great warrior, a son at her service anytime but watching him in a role of ideal husband, whose only desire is his wife’s happiness. She felt blissful that her sisters got such praiseworthy husbands. The RAGHUS! She was lost in her thought, while walking she didn’t even notice that this beautiful scene was captured in some eyes…
Siya smiled brightly but in another moment as the dialogues of that fateful day of her abduction hit her mind, it vanished.
“What happened Sitey?” Ram frowned and came forward.
“You wanted to spend some more time with your son… try to understand Sitey, after all he is a married man, he has some other priorities too” he giggled to cheer her up but her look said nothing other than it was a bad joke. She was still the same. Ram brought her nearer by placing a hand on her shoulder sideways,
“Sitey, don’t think him silly. He respects and worships you like a mother, I guess even more. During our exile, whenever I used to see both of you, I felt that who needs name, money or anything if he has a family, though small but full of love.” They sat on bench and Ram continued…
“You know Siya, whilst your search when we found your jewellery near Jatayu I looked at your earings, nose pin, necklace, bangles recognised them, remembered you in them, I informed Lakshman that see this is surely your Bhabhi’s jewellery… and Lakshman, he only held your anklets and cried beholding them, told me that he has seen only his mother’s anklets and thus recognises only them, he can even feel her warmth through them. Siya, many times I failed to understand how you both shared such relation but the credit apart from Lakshman goes to you too. The way you cared for us, became a motherly figure for him, understood him, guided him, most importantly you had that trust— SITAA!? ” Ram was interrupted midway as he found a weeping Sita beside him. Her tears were not of happiness which he could easily make out.
“SITA WHAT’S THE MATTER?”
“I didn’t Raghunandan” she managed to say so… “I let his trust down, I let him down.” She sobbed holding up to ram’s left shoulder.
“How I lashed out at him that day, you don’t even know. If I was really a mother how did those words even come on my tongue… I myself preach that self-respect, one’s character is over and above everything & I only pointed a finger on his character, Swami…on my laal’s character. Questioned his intentions, his devotion…” Tears of guilt brimmed in her eyes.
“I know all that Sita, when he came to me that very moment I understood, his red eyes didn’t need any description. It wasn’t possible that he disobeys my instruction. The moment he told me that, Bhabhi was heck worried on listening your shout, she lost all her senses and con..vi..nced convinced me to follow you.’ I could read the helplessness in his eyes Siya.”
“I’m highly guilty on my deeds Swami… Poor Lakshman! He kept begging that something is wrong Bhabhi… something is out of order. But the very feeling that you were in trouble made me mad.”
“It’s nothing but fate Sitey. Had you not had been that harsh, it was next to impossible for Lakshman to go against my words, it was fate that your abduction had to take place for Ravan’s death.” Ram didn’t want to say more… this was something his duty asked for and he had to kill the man in himself because he was justifying whatever happened. He held Sita tightly and consoled her with all warmness he could. Caressing her head he again repeated, “He is no silly Sitey that he won’t understand.”
Next morning Sita was humming a song passing the corridor…
“GOOD MORNING BHABHI!” her Lakhan laal came almost running like kids all the way to her feet!
“Stay blessed son! Good Morning!” she caressed him.
“This song is so soothing… after such long heard it from you.” His smile didn’t fell short for even a second.
“I know how much you love it! Well so what’s your plan for today? You are not going anywhere na?” she asked rather confirmed that he stays here this day.
“Umm no Bhabhi, as of now there is no such commitment for today, just the routine work. But if some work comes to Bhaiya, I can’t say.”
“NO, you’re Bhaiya is not going to send you anywhere today. It’s my order… got it.”
“Hahaha! Okay Bhabhi… who has the capability to go against you, not even the Gods…” replied Lakshman in his funky tone. But Siya felt another thing.
She was determined to get rid of all those odd feelings today! Whatever excuse Raghunandan may give of destiny or anything, but she had hurt Lakshman at some point & so wanted do something for forgiveness… As she was a lady of values. Lakshman went to the Chamber of Ministers and she made her way to kitchen, this wasn’t the daily time but today something special was running in her mind.
*Praises to the QUEEN!*
Siya entered the kitchen and sent the cooks to bring her the ingredients, after a while they were all at her service,
“You all are granted a holiday for today, go and spend it with your families, cheer up the ladies of your house!”
“BUT QUEEN… What about the meals? Even if you wish to cook it we are here for your assistance. You just order us–”
“There’s no such need Maharaj (the head of cook)” their head was stopped in the middle.
“I’ll manage it all…”
“WE’LL MANAGE IT ALL!!!” came a sound in chorus from the door…
To Sita’s utter surprise her sisters were there! As always they arrived for her company! They never wished to be separated, as if each other’s fragrance pulled them and so they all assembled together for any task to be done. It wasn’t easy to let their soul go far from them for all these 14 years, but the love they beheld in themselves gave them the strength to survive for this long.
The sisters were overjoyed on having the idea to cook together, something they wanted to do since very lengthy period. As Urmila & Mandavi joined Sita in the cooking, Shrutkirti went to Maharaj,
“Don’t worry at all Maharaj, you don’t know our Sita didi… she is Annapoorna! With her 8 hands she will easily succeed in making the meals for all!” She said leaving the cooks shocked
“Yes, no doubt she is Annapoorna for the entire kingdom Rajkumari, but eight hands… are you just exaggerating or—”
“Na Na I am very serious, see two hands of Sita didi, two of Mandavi didi, two Urmila di’s and two mine!” said the youngest imparting a great sense of joyfullness in the kitchen.
“Now LEAVE!” said Urmila expanding her eyes, “or she will keep on explaning…”
The cooks came out smiling and blushing, such loving down to earth and full of life queens have they got, after the kings they considered themselves to be the most lucky one!
“So didi, what are we going to make? Have you thought of any menu?” asked Shrutkirti coming upto the big square rack in the middle where the other three were already engaged in some or the other work.
“Oh silly, don’t you see we have already started with the vegetables, the ingredients are out here, obviously didi has planned something.” Replied Mandavi who was chopping tomatoes & potatoes and had a huge plate in front of her.
“No, I meant what special are we going to make, because I have to give things an extraordinary touch no…”
“You shall be able to give your extraordinary touch once we complete our basic cooking, right now help me with some rice, so that I start my work on the kheer, it is must for any special thali (platter)” stated Urmila keeping a vast vessel of milk on the stove.
“Wait! Wait Girls. Won’t you ask what the special occasion is today? or why we are going to make some different meals, a distinctive platter?” Sita came to the right and gave an astonished look to the other three.
When it came to question something, these three were almost like a fire brigade, and seeing them today without any query Sita was amazed.
“Didi” Mandavi kept her hand on her shoulder, “We are all good in remembering the special dates and events, when we saw you coming towards the kitchen we understood what you were in a mood of.”
“With that smile on your face!”
Siya’s eyes twinkled with pride, she held Mandavi’s chin, “When did my little sisters grew up so much.” Mandavi simply smiled holding her hand.
“Sita didi, and why should there be any specific occasion only, whenever we all are together is it any less than a festival?” added Urmila, “Didi, all these years this is only what I have concluded, how easily we take ourselves granted na but in the lack of togetherness we understand how we celebrated each of our day earlier.”
The girls shared a wet smile, all the pain they felt was yet to unfold to each other, now all they prayed for was each sunrise together and each sunset together!’
*tananananananan* Shrutkirti created the sound by banging a spoon on plate. She started,
“If my respected ladies have had their emotional ride, shall we continue with our cooking, cause the second prahar has already started and we have a lot to do, all the family members are not going to wait for us, and especially Ram Bhaiya he gets a small break for his lunch, we should not delay in any work, see I have done with the rice now the dry fruits, Oh God you have not yet told me the gravy—–”
“SHRUTKIRTI TAKE A BREATHE!” the three shouted on a higher volume than hers.
“Chill my girl, we’ll do it.” Sita went to her and kept her hand on her cheek. “Okay so you want to know what we are gonna prepare, listen I thought of making two-three spicy vegetables, two sweets and a sweet and spicy mix gravy. So let’s prepare some koftas, chilli paneer, gatte, and cornflour curry”
“Great! In sweets some kheer and…” Shrutkirti exclaimed!
“…and Gajar ka halwa, is now everything okay!”
“It’s more than okay didi, it’s rocking!”
Sisters giggled on her childish acts, but no doubt this darling was a champion is spreading laughter to all gloomy lips. As they again became busy in their work, the menu kept recurring in Urmila’s head. She could sense that each dish is being made of Lakshman’s choice. Was there a specific reason to it? Did Sita did it knowingly? Her hands had stopped and continuously followed Sita for her answers…
“Didi, you are preparing all this for swami? Is there something that I don’t know?”
Sita hesitated a little but she knew that Urmila won’t remain unnoticed.
“There had been an incident Urmi, when I hurt Lakshman to such an extent that no one can think of… I just want him to be free…”
“He is already fine didi” Urmila kept her hand on Siya’s, ” I guess I know what you are talking about. But if you want to do some efforts on your part, I totally respect— mmm, AAH SHRUTKIRTI, you won’t get rid of your antics ever”
Shrutkirti squeezed a lemon in her mouth. She laughed badly, and they ran behind each other like small nave kids.
“It’s the same punishment of our childhood Di! Whenever someone gets into a talk and forgets cooking she has to be reminded by the lemon…” she completed in a panting tone. Sita-Mandavi laughed out loud, and dear Urmila was left with a baby angry face.
The Dining Room
The queens set the table ready assisted by some of their maids though much to their reluctance, but undoubtedly Ayodhya was blessed with idealistic people, so the maids were also adhered to their duty!
“Lovely! The smell only tells me that its Bhabhi’s cooking!!!” an extremely excited Lakshman came towards them alongwith Ram, Bharat and Shatrughn. As soon as they were seated, the ladies smiled brightly. The mothers were already seated, they started unveiling each dish, and while doing so Sita mentioned that it is prepared by all four of them together.
The brothers were delighted to know this fact! They couldn’t wait anymore,
“Bhabhi I’ll serve it myself…”
“No No Shatrughn, its my pleasure to serve you all!” replied Sita as she kept the food in Ram’s plate.
“Bhabhi try to understand, its not his gentleman statement, its just that he is very hungry & can’t wait anymore…” Lakshman left no chance to pull hi twin’s leg! Sita adored his laugh…
“Oh… I’ll serve you Shatrughn Bhaiya!” Mandavi came to them and Urmila took the charge of serving Mothers. Such a heavenly scene it was when all the ladies of house served them food with love, Ram felt contented seeing this.
“Wow Bhabhi! Kofte! Curry! Gajar ka halwa!!”
“Taste it and tell me Lakshman, how much you liked it” replied Sita
“Bhabhi you guys have prepared all this…am gonna love it!”
“and that too all of his favourite dishes… how he’ll not love it.” Added Bharat with a serene smile.
“How remember all of my choices!” Lakshman went a little emotional looking at Sita.
“I even remember that how you cherished me to feed you!” she said so and came up to him, took the bowl of halwa and fed him with her hands. All were awestruck on this sight, where others smiled Ram and Urmila knew what feelings Siya was going through, they shared a look and allowed the tear in both of their eyes to slip out from the corner of eye.
On the other hand, Lakshman’s tears kept swimming in his eyes but didn’t escape from there. He was somewhere doubtful that will this moment ever come back to their lives or not. He no where doubted Sita’s intentions or trust in him, but words do have great power in them. All these years he found himself responsible or deficiency in his devotion that Sita could even think so. He lowered t his eyes that very moment.
“Not again Lakshman.” Sita promptly said. She lifted his face by his chin,
“You are not at all liable for any of those words son. It’s only and only my sin, let me compensate for them.”
“Lakshman! You always made me feel easy to say anything to you, ask for any favour. But now I keep questioning my tongue that how dare such words escaped them. I was completely frank with my dear devar, but that day I spoiled everything, I spoiled the piousness of relation–”
“not at all Bhabhi. Maybe it was just that situation, even I also got angry so many times, I badmouthed Bharat Bhaiya…but you and Ram Bhaiya never lost hope in me, you just asked me check my anger no… So similarly, that day you were also in the height of anxiety and when I refused your order you went angry on me. Don’t I understand Bhabhi…” he pouted at the end.
“After all mothers also get some habits from their son.” Ram completed their conversation when both of them fell silent.
“YES!” Lakshman nodded his headed and they both laughed with tears. He took the bowl from Sita and made her also eat the halwa!
“…and similarly my Bhabhi ma must like my favourite, this awesome, delicious halwa also!”
Sita ate it with her happiness at its peak! Finally her tears of guilt shed off… Ram and Lakshman smiled radiantly to see the same weightless smile on her lips!!!