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This is Sowmya Johnson Aka Berdilla.
WHERE’S SIDHANT MAHI? (Karan Wahi)
One of the men looked up from his supper. Gone to town, I guess. He’s playing cricket tonight. You going?
No, Mayank hide his disappointment. I just thought i’d catch him before he left.
Aw, he was outta here like a streak of greased lighting. He always moves fast on Fridays.
Yeah well I’ll catch up with him tomorrow, then Mayank backed out of the bunkhouse and left the men to their supper. They’d be heading to town as soon as they cleaned up. Friday night in Kolkata was almost as good as Saturday night in Kolkata.
No way was he spending all weekend trying to figure out this mess. No way was he getting stuck with a baby at this time of his life. Hell, he’d raised enough boys. He would have to talk to all three of them though just to make sure. Manish (Varun) had taken off early and Manik (Namish) was late getting his college-educated as home.
And he was left dealing with the Chennai woman and the Sharma baby. Hell, Mayank swore out loud. He was already thinking of little Abhi as a Sharma. Surely there were other babies with brown eyes and an unmistakable cleft in their chins. He walked back to the house and tried to convince himself that there were worse things in the world that could happen now. If that little boy was Sidhant Mahi’s (Karan Wahi) then he could damn support the child. He would be able to do that, at least financially in two weeks.
He wondered if Ragini Bhushan knew about the Sharma trust fund. Or if Gunjan knew she was sending her baby to a family who would now ne able to afford to feed one more.
Well he wasn’t going to sit around all night worrying about it. He knew exactly where S Mahi (Karan Wahi) was going to be at nine o’ clock tonight. As much as he hated hanging out at the cricket, he was going to get this mess straightned out as soon as possible. Before people started to talk.
SUPPER, PADMA SAID She stood in the doorway to Ragini’s room. Come it’s ready.
Ragini hesitated Abhi was sleeping peacefully his thumb tucked in his mouth and his freshly diapered bottom up in the air.
He will be fine Padma assured her. I’ll come back and listen for him while you eat.
Are you sure you don’t mind?
I like babies Padma said i have six grandchildren.
That’s wonderful Ragini followed her down the hall do any of them live around here?
Some My two oldest girls live in town another is married in this town.
You have three children? Ragini wondered how the woman had managed. Just taking care of Abhi these past weeks had turned her life upside down. That’s wonderful.
You’ll meet them they are all coming next week for the party.
Ragini didn’t point out that she would be leaving tomorrow. That’s nice she said as Padma led her back through the living room, dinning room and kitchen.
You can save yourself some steps and walk across the courtyard next time if you want. Be careful where you walk though. We are cleaning it up for the party.
Sounds like it’s going to be quite a celebration.
Padma nodded her face solemn as she pointed out a place at that table that was set with bright pottery.
We have all waited a long time for this.
Mayank Sharma shot Padma a stern look Manik (Namish) has worked hard to graduate from school, he said.
Yes Padma said he is such a smart boy always writing things on paper always reading.
And making babies too? Ragini sat down at the table and put her napkin in her lap. Where are the rest of your brothers Mr. Sharma?
Call me Mayank he frowned knowing exactly what she was asking. S Mahi (Karan Wahi) has gone to town. His band is playing in Badi tonight.
Could we go see him? The sooner we clear all this up the better.
Padma placed a large bowl of chicken curry in front of her clear up what?
Thank you Ragini said it smells wonderful.
Mayank shook his head never mind Padma.
Padma laughed oh you’re wondering where that baby got his Sharma chin aren’t you?
Ragini looked at Mayank and waited for him to answer but he ignored the question and Padma returned to the table with a bowl for him.
Green chicken chili she said not too hot.
Not too hot could mean anything Mayank warned. So go easy on the first bite.
Okay she scooped up small spoonful and tasted a piece of chicken and chili sauce. It was spicy enough to make her throat burn but the sensation wasn’t unpleasant.
Padma returned with a plate of fish and two bottles of ice water. There she said setting the bottles between them. I’m going to sit with the little one while you eat. She turned to Mayank. I’ll stay here tonight if you want to take the lady to meet S Mahi (Karan Wahi).
Thank you Ragini said pleased that it was going to be easy to talk to another Sharma. Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?
The house keeper chuckled no i love babies i’ll sit with him in his room while he sleeps. You’ll like S Mahi (Karan Wahi). He’s a fine boy.
No one is going anywhere Mayank said.
Ragini ignored him and looked at Padma S Mahi (Karan Wahi) is the singer?
Here Mayank twisted the top off of the Ice bottle and handed it to her. If you’re going to eat Padma’s chili you’re going to need something cold.
Ragini wasn’t a ice drinker but she took it anyway. She didn’t usually eat chili with cowboy or take care babies either so what difference did a ice bottle make? She took a couple of sips and then got back to the subject of the conversation. I’d really like to meet your brother.
Mayank waited for the cook to leave the kitchen before he answered. I don’t want you asking anyone any questions.
I know that but you’re not exactly calling the shots.
You’re in my home accusing me of fatherhood i’d say that gives me the right to get the bottom of this mess.
I’m not leaving until deliver this child to his father. I promised his mother and that’s what i’m going to do.
And if you can’t find out who the father is?
There are lawyers and blood tests and DNA.
You’re prepared to go that far?
He didn’t have any idea how far she was prepared to go. If he’d spent a couple of months in a bad foster home he’d understand. Or even worse if he’d ever been taken away from a loving foster mother and placed somewhere else he’d know.
If he’s a Sharma he should be raised as a Sharma she declared.
Mayank laughed that’s a curse not a blessing sweetheart. We’re not exactly the most stable family in Badi. Ask anyone in Kolkata. My father was in jail twice and took off after Manik (Namish) was born. My mother died of overwork and a broken heart. Sure you want Abhi to join this family?
He deserves to have a name. Let me talk to S Mahi (Karan Wahi) tonight.
It should be done man-to-man. In private.
So the two of you can cook up some story? No way.
Mayank opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He inhaled and exhaled slowly before answering. You’re questioning my integrity?
I’m just saying that if you two are going to talk, I should be there to listen. I won’t say anything unless i have to but i should be there.
How do you know i haven’t already talked to him?
You wouldn’t be arguing with me if you had. If the boy is a Sharma i’ll see that his father takes responsibility for him.
Will he give him a home?
He doesn’t have a home to give him. You want that child raised on a tour bus?
Will he sign away his rights then so Abhi can be adopted?
Mayank’s eyebrows rose but he didn’t say anything. Are you married?
And yet you’re concerned about the little boy. Why?
His mother was my friend it was important to her my taking Abhi to his father.
But you haven’t found him yet.
And then what?
Then i leave here and go back to Chennai.
Ragini nodded Promise.
All right We’ll head to town at eight and see if we can talk to S Mahi (Karan Wahi) before the first set.
Good Ragini said picking up her spoon I’ve never met a country-western singer before. Has he been doing it for a long time?
Yeah he’s going to Mumbai in a couple of weeks.
Is he famous?
Only around here.
He’s never played anywhere else in Kolkata?
Mayank Sharma drained his ice bottle. Save the questions for later lady. S Mahi (Karan Wahi) goes on stage at nine. We’ll get to him before then.
Ragini helped herself to a fish. She was on the right track now. It had taken her a little longer than she thought it would but Gunjan had loved honky-tonk bars and men who played guitars. Sidhant Mahi Sharma (Karan Wahi) had to be the one.
HELL, MAYANK SWORE, pulling Ragini into the crowded bar. The jukebox volume must have been turned to high. You can’t hear yourself think in this place.
I should have worn jeans she muttered hanging back, I’m not dressed for this.
You’re fine he glanced down at her and hide a sigh. She was too damn pretty for this place. Mayank surveyed the room and caught two or three men staring at Ragini as if they’d never seen a woman before. He glared at one guy until the man turned back to his shot glass. Mayank tightened his grip on Ragini’s hand. Come on i’ll find a table for you then i’ll see if i can find S Mahi (Karan Wahi).
You’re going to leave me here alone?
He released her hand and pulled a chair over to a small corner table for two. You’ll be fine. Just don’t talk to anyone except the waitress.
Ragini gave him a strange questioning look so he added look honey. You wanted to come here, so you’re going to have to do things my way. Sit down and by the time you order a cool drinks I’ll be back with S Mahi (Karan Wahi).
Ragini sat down and surveyed the crowd. Your brother must be very popular.
It’s like this on Friday nights whether S Mahi (Karan Wahi) is playing or not. Don’t move i’ll get him and be right back. You won’t talk to him about Abhi?
Not unless you’re hanging on every word.
She smiled which made Mayank even sorrier he’d brought her to a dump like the bar. She was the kind of woman a man took to a fancy restaurant with candles on the table and violins music. Of course there weren’t any places like that until you got to Badi. He tipped his hat to her and made his way through the crowd. He had to keep his mind on business, not on a pretty lady with soft gray eyes.
Two of the guys were busy setting up the equipment when he approached the stage. Hey Guarav, Yuvi.
Yuvi the bass player turned and grinned. Hey Mayank. S Mahi (Karan Wahi) didn’t say that you were coming tonight! You come to heat the new songs?
Not exactly I’ve got to talk to S Mahi (Karan Wahi) for a few minutes. Where is he?
He was out back unloading but he came inside a few minutes ago and went off to talk to a couple of people. Yuvi looked at his watch. We’re going to start tuned up as soon as i get all this stuff plugged in When i see him i’ll tell him you’re here.
Thanks maybe i’ll get lucky and find him first.
Guarav chuckled look for a group of women and he’ll be in the middle.
Mayank turned back to the survey the room. The place was starting to fill up even more, the overflow moving onto the dance floor where a handful of couples danced the two-steps to the jukebox. They were lined up three deep at the bar on the other side of the building and more were spilling in through the door. He couldn’t see Ragini a group of cowboys stood showing off for a hard looking blonde and blocked his view of the corner table. Either folks in the country were desperate to party or S Mahi (Karan Wahi) and his band were drawing a big crowd. S Mahi (Karan Wahi) should have been easy to spot but the light was dim and the air smoky.
Mayank made his way back to the table to find Ragini talking to the waitress.
One beer and one whiskey please.
I don’t drink whiskey Mayank said.
Usually neither do i Ragini informed him but this seemed like a good place for me to do it don’t you think?
Bring the lady a coke too he told the waitress then he pulled out a chair and sat down.
Is it always like this here?
I wouldn’t know i’m not much for hanging around in bars.
Ragini actually looked disappointed. Neither am I. I thought i was with an expert and could learn something.
What exactly did you want to learn?
She shrugged those pretty shoulders and Mayank’s gaze drifted down to her chest for a brief appreciative second. I don’t know she said looking around the room Gunjan used to talk about the noise and the fun and the people. She worked as a cocktail waitress in a lot of places like this.
Which was exactly the right place to meet a guy like S Mahi (Karan Wahi), Mayank thought. Was she a big drinker?
Not that i know of what are you getting at?
I was just thinking that she could have misunderstood the name of who she went to bed with.
Ragini glared at him Gunjan wasn’t like that.
The waitress returned and set the drinks in front of them. Mayank started to pull out to his wallet but the girl stopped him. That’s already been taken care of she said.
Me, a tall young man declared stepping up to the table. He tucked a bill in the woman’s apron. Thank you darling i’ll take over from here.
Don’t forget my song she said clearly impressed the Sidhant Mahi Sharma (Karan Wahi) was taking the time to flirt with her.
I won’t I Still Believe In You right?
That’s the one. She moved away reluctantly and was immediately stopped by a group of rowdy cowboy lookalikes.
S Mahi grinned everyone wants me to sing like Honey Singh.
Sit down Mayank said not smiling at his younger brother. He wanted to ask some questions and he wanted some answers. And then he wanted to be able to send Ragini and Abhi back to Chennai to find the child’s real father.
Can’t S Mahi said We’re starting at nine. If we’re late starting we don’t get free drinks during the first break. He turned to Ragini and held out his hand. Hi there. I’m Sidhant Mahi, the good-looking Sharma.
She laughed and shook his hand. Ragini Bhushan she said. You two look so much alike.
But I’m the best-looking one and i didn’t know Mayank had a date tonight. He released her hand and grinned at his brother. Thought you weren’t going out.
Hey guys and gals! a voice called over the microphone. You all ready for a good time? You know who’s here! S Mahi.
The crowd cheered and Sid Mahi laughed. Gotta go he tipped his hat toward Ragini and winked. They can’t start without me. I’m the lead guitarist and singer.
I need to talk to you Mayank gave his brother an I mean-business look, but Sid Mahi stood up.
I’ll catch you between sets he promised turning to Ragini. Any requests from the lady?
She looked surprised Really?
Sid winked Yep if i know I’ll play it for you.
How about Honey Singh songs?
Yes but if you don’t know it then that’s all right. Anything would be—-
No problem darling. One of my favorites in fact. He grinned at Mayank one more time. You out to date this lady again.
Mayank ignored the romantic advice. We’ll wait for you.
Right he agreed walking away, but Mayank thought his brother could have taken the command a little more seriously.
So that was Sid Ragini murmured. Definitely Gunjan’s type though a little on the young side.
He’s twenty-six and according to the birth certificate Abhi’s mother would have been the same age as I’m Thirty-two.
That’s a big age difference.
Some women prefer it he said watching the way the women in the crowd watched Sid Mahi hop onto the stage.
I meant between the two of you.
Yeah well my father was doing time in the state penitentiary for a few years. Kind of interrupted his family life.
Ragini took a sip from her beer glass. And you and your mother worked on the farm?
Yep When the old man came home he stuck it out for a few years. The boys were born and he took off again. He took a swallow of beer and studied the woman beside him. Still sure you want that baby of yours to be part of this family?
He’s not mine she pointed out but she gave him a look that made him feel guilty for being so blunt. But damn it the woman needed to know what that child was getting into.
For all i know he’s yours she added Or Sid Mahi’s Someone has to take responsibility for him.
No lectures lady Mayank drawled leaning back in his chair as then music started. I wrote the book on responsibility and now I’m on the final chapter.
I”D LIKE TO DEDICATE this next song to the little lady who’s crazy enough to go out with my older brother Sid Mahi announced waving one arm toward their table. People stared Ragini tried not to laugh at the expression on Mayank’s face. He wasn’t happy being the center of attention that was certain.
Honey Sid continued I hope you know what you’re getting into.
The crowd applauded as Sid Mahi broke into the first verse of crazy and the dance floor quickly filled with couples who wrapped themselves around each other for the slow dance.
I suppose you want to dance to this one Mayank said standing up.
He didn’t have to sound so reluctant. With you?
He held out his hand there are two guys waiting to see if you’re going to dance with me. If you refuse they will think you’re fair game and they’ll be over here as soon as I excuse my self to go uh outside for a minutes. You want that?
Ragini stood i’d like to dance, thank you
Thought so he said guiding her away from the table.
She stopped short. Where’s your beer bottle?
On the table Why?
Could you bring it? She pointed to the men dancing their beer bottles hanging from their fingers behind their ladies back. I’ve always wondered how that works.
I usually don’t drink and dance at the same time he muttered but he took his bottle and her hand.
Me either she said but she figured she was going to like it. He led her onto the dance floor and took her into his arms. His right arm, hold bottle in hand from her shoulder and his left encircled her waist. Ragini was impressed.
I’m not much of a dancer Sharma said.
You seem to be all right. Ragini liked the way he held her. He seemed a lot larger now that she was touching him. When someone bumped her and pushed her against Mayank’s chest she felt the warmth beneath his shirt and that hard chest. Sorry she said righting herself.
My fault Mayank said I should have seen him coming.
Ragini feeling shy again fumbled for something to say. Dancing this close to such a big cowboy was turning her from an intelligent computer expert into a tongue-tied teenager. She looked over and saw Sid Mahi smiling at her. Your brother is watching us.
My brother has some explaining to do.
Ragini hoped that Sid Mahi would take the news of his fatherhood well. She didn’t think he seemed like the kind of man who would ignore the existence of a child but since she’d only spoken to him for five minutes she probably didn’t have much of a handle on him. Does Sid like children?
He likes everyone and everyone likes him. Women, Kids, horses and dogs you name it and Sid will charm them.
You don’t call him Sidhant Mahi?
Ragini listened to Sid’s deep voice as he sang the song. He sounded just as good—-or even better—-than the singers she listened to on the radio while she worked. Add the Sharma good looks, including that square Sharma chin with the appealing cleft. He wore black jeans and a black T-shirt. He was tall and lean, not as wide-chested as Mayank, but maybe a little taller. And definitely more outgoing.
The song ended and the band went right into a faster number something that made enthusiastic couples crowd the dance floor. Mayank led her back to their tables and politely held her chair for her.
He looked at his watch and then at her almost-full beer glass. Sid should be through with this first set pretty soon. Want another drink?
They sat in silence waiting for Sid to return. When the set ended with a loud guitar flourish and a crashing of the drums they watched Sid hop off the stage grab a beer from a passing waitress and head their way. He hooked his foot around a chair leg and pulled it toward him, straddled it backward and grinned at Ragini.
What’d you think? Saw you two dancing out there.
You have a great band Ragini told him, Mayank said you’re going to Mumbai soon?
Yep in a couple of weeks we’ve got the name of guy to contact we’re going to make a demo tape, and then we’re going to start making music. Stick around for a while. We’re going to do some of the new numbers in the second set. He looked at his watch. I gotta get back pretty soon. The owner doesn’t like long breaks.
I’ll bet you’ll be famous some—–
Sid do you know a woman named Gunjan ? Mayank had leaned forward his gaze on Sid Mahi’s face.
The younger man shook his head. Nope I don’t think so. Is she an agent or something?
No She had a baby a few months ago and she put a Sharma down on the birth certificate as being the father.
S Mahi chuckled Not me Mayank I don’t go around taking chances like that.
His brother didn’t smile Not even once?
No He turned to Ragini but this time Sid Mahi wasn’t laughing, I thought your name was Ragini.
It is she said scooting her chair closer so she could hear over the sound of the music coming from the jukebox. Sid looked so sincere that she almost felt sorry for him. Gunjan was my neighbor. She left the baby with me before she died. I came to town to bring Abhi to his father.
He took a drink from the beer bottle. What does this have to do with me?
She had to give Sid Mahi credit for looking calm. Where were you a year ago last March?
S Mahi shrugged I don’t know i’ll have to look it up. Yuvi keeps a record of where we’ve played and for how much.
Find out was all Mayank said but S Mahi looked as if he he’d been given a command from up above.
First thing in the morning he promised.
Ragini is staying at the farm Mayank added With the baby.
S Mahi’s eyebrows rose as he turned to his brother. No sh—–kidding. You think there’s a chance this could be legal? Have you talked to Manish? (Varun) .
Damn he can’t take a baby with him.
Mayank didn’t look sympathetic, Ragini noticed. If it is his he’ll have to figure out something.
Could you and Padma keep—-
I gotta get back Sid said swinging his leg over the chair. The crowd gets ugly in between sets, and there’ll be fight in the parking lot sure enough if the music doesn’t start soon. He hesitated then leaned closer. I’m not anyone’s father Mayank i swear.
We’ll talk in the morning his older brother said. We’ll get to the bottom of this.
Ma’am Sid tipped his hat. I wish you luck, but I’m not your man.
Ragini wondered she’d give a lot to see a record of where that band had played Anyone with a band called the Fab 5 must like women. And Sid had the kind of easy charm that Gunjan would fall for.
I’ll finish this beer and we’ll leave Mayank said.
I’m in no hurry i’d like to hear some of your brother’s songs, she said. When else would she get the chance to hear a real country-western singer perform? Ragini watched as Sid stepped up on the stage. A group of young women hovered nearby and watched him with adoring expressions.
You may want to hang around here, but i don’t like crowds.
Do you think he’s telling the truth?
He’s never lied to me before, Least not since he was grown.
Sid’s band roared to life and Ragini couldn’t hear the rest of what Mayank said to her, but she thought she heard him ask her if she really wanted a Sharma to raise that child.
DAMN MAN YOU CUT IT close, Old man gave me the evil eye for five minutes, Yuvi complained.
I was talking to Mayank Sid said slipping the guitar strap over his head. He tried out a few chords. Sid waved to the sound man and got the thumbs-up sign.
He’s here with a woman a pretty woman.
You know her?
Never saw her before. He looked over toward the table but the shadows hide Mayank’s face. Never heard of her friend Gunjan either.
Yuvi chuckled and praticed a riff on the bass. There’s a pretty woman in Kolkata that you don’t know? I can’t believe it.
She’s from out of town. Mayank didn’t say from where. He wondered if that was deliberate.
Maybe he’s getting married. Now that you all are going on your way and all, he’s found himself a woman.
Mayank? He doesn’t go anywhere to meet woman Hell his older brother sure wasn’t being accused of fathering a child. I don’t remember the last time he had a date.
We starting with ALL MY EXES or one of the new songs?
One of the new ones lets do Can’t Take It Anymore. Yuvi nodded and told the rest of the guys. Sid glanced toward his brother one more time as the band started the intro. He didn’t know how this was going turn out but he was sure glad to see Mayank getting out and having a good time. Mayank must like the little lady or he wouldn’t have danced with her.
Everybody knew Mayank didn’t dance.
Sid Mahi launched into the opening bars and sang I can’t take it anymore but i want all you have to give, into the microphone. He kept his voice low, the way he knew the women liked it and scanned the crowd.
I can’t it anymore when there’s nothing for which i have to live. He made sure he looked tortured. Women loved it when a man looked like he was suffering from love. A sudden fight broke out in the corner near Mayank’s table but Sid couldn’t see through the crowd to find out what was going on.
Then he spotted his brother and a man fell against a table. He heard glass break and saw the two bouncers shove their way through the crowd.
I can’t take it, no I can’t take it.
Sid forget about looking tortured and grinned. Friday night in Kolkata, and Mayank was finally getting into the swing of things.
To be Continued…..
Thank You Friends For Supporting Me Guys I Want To Dedicate This FF For My Friends Thanks Sindhu Sister, Ragz Teju, Jazzy, Malika, Spp, Lovely, Akshata, Tani, Suhani, Asra Pooja, And My Silent Readers Thanks For Supporting Me. And My Lil Sissy (Deeshu Chellam) Thank You For Your Support Dear Friend.