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Hello everyone, Bela is back with a new story. I know there are too many, but this will start only after Cocktail ends. This is just the ‘Prologue’ of my upcoming story, “Dehleez”. It is the one that got the maximum votes in the poll.
A few things to note about this story:
1. Ragini is missing.
2. She shares a beautiful relationship with her father Shekhar, who pampers her like crazy.
I looked at my bloodied hands blankly, recalling the events of the past few hours. Around me, there was chaos. Sanskaar, Lakshya and I were being blasted for trying the stunt that had resulted in my sister Ragini fighting for her life in the ICU. Dadi was cursing me loudly, Maa was ashamed of my actions, Baba was conflicted- the shock and disappointment he felt at Ragini as well as my actions was too much for him. The Maheshwaris too, were in the same dilemma but Ragini’s condition was now the matter of supreme concern.
My foolishness, my stupidity was the reason she was in that room, hanging by the fragile thread between life and death. With immense pain, I closed my eyes and went back to when it all happened.
***THREE HOURS AGO***
Ragini howled in pain as she held a gruesomely injured Lakshya in her arms. She cried noisily, as Lakshya took his last breaths. She looked up at Sanskaar and I, craze evident in her eyes.
“Why? WHY? WHY DID YOU DO THIS SWARA?” she screamed in rage. Gently, she placed her beloved husband’s head on the ground. Standing up, she faced Sanskaar and I.
“What did you get? Haan, Sanskaar? What sort of a brother are you? You tried to kill your own brother, for whom? Swara? A woman?”
“Who are you talking about? Irony, isn’t it? YOU tried to take your own sister’s life for Lakshya, a man, and you are lecturing me on the same?” Sanskaar sneered at her.
“I DIDN’T WANT TO DO IT. OKAY? I WAS……never mind. You both are responsible for Lakshya’s state. Whatever was done, I did it. I WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING, NOT HIM. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO IT?” she screamed.
Sanskaar leaned towards me and gave me the knife. “She isn’t saying much. We have to make her confess to ALL her crimes. Act as if you are stabbing him, I am sure she will reveal everything.” he whispered to me. It was a fake knife, brought from the weekly Sunday market. I took a deep breath as Sanskaar and I walked towards them.
Sanskaar held Ragini tightly while I stepped towards Lakshya and raised my knife. Ragini’s agonizing screams pierced the silence of the room. As I was about to strike, I saw Lakshya open one eye and look at me. I rolled my eyes and pointed to the knife in my hand. He immediately nodded and closed his eye again.
I lowered the knife and was about to strike him with the toy knife when a force came down on me and toppled me over. I saw Ragini struggling with me for the knife, continuously muttering that she would not let anything happen to Lakshya. I felt bad for her, knowing that she was being sort of betrayed by her love once again, but this time, it was because of her own wrong. I tried snatching the knife away from her, telling her that she had brought it on herself. I was worried that she would notice that the knife was fake and if that happened, our plan would fail miserably.
“Give the knife to me Swara, I won’t let you do anything to Lakshya!”
“You are responsible for his state. If you had not pushed me in the river that day………..”
“I had to do it! I…….I had no choice! You are not understanding Swara, I was helpless.”
Ragini grabbed the knife but I pulled it away from her, back to my own hands. She reached for it again and a struggle ensued, where both of us were trying to snatch the knife away from each other. I made a forceful push towards her to make her lose her balance so that she could leave the knife. As I pushed her, expecting her to let go of the knife, I was horrified to realise that she held it still. In a moment, blood was seeping out from her stomach as she cried out in pain. I looked in shock at my hand which was on the knife, which was halfway inside her stomach.
“Swara? What happened? What……….Damn! Did you stab her?” Sanskaar yelled from behind me. I was numb in shock as I continued staring at my hand. Sanskaar pulled me away while Lakshya sat up and held Ragini who was now breathing deeply. Her eyes were shut close and her laboured breathing made Lakshya look at me in alarm.
“You stabbed her? Why?” Lakshya asked, holding Ragini in pain.
“Don’t be stupid Lucky, Swara didn’t mean to stab her. It was an accident. She is losing blood, we need to take her to the hospital, fast!” Sanskaar yelled as he helped me stand. Lakshya picked up an unconscious Ragini in his arms and ran towards the door while I followed him, mind blank.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up. Sanskaar was smiling sadly at me. He sat next to me and whispered “Everything would be fine. Do not worry. She will be alright. And we have proof against her now, so you can be assured………….”
Something inside me snapped. I turned to him in rage and said, “What the hell is your problem? My sister, who I stabbed by mistake, is fighting for her life inside and you are more concerned with proving my innocence! I get it, that you want to get rid of me as soon as you can, but please have some shame and mercy. Be sensitive towards my guilt and pain Mr. Sanskaar Maheshwari! I am going through a rough phase and if all you have to say is about how I will now be able to prove myself right, then you may just leave!”
Sanskaar gaped at me. “I…….I didn’t mean to come across like that Swara. You know my feelings for you, I can’t see you in pain. I just wanted to give hope that everything will be fine. I am sorry.” he replied.
I closed my eyes yet again. Ragini’s tinkling laughter came to my ears, provoking me to smile in fond remembrance as I recalled our lovely moments together.
The sound of a door opening made me open my eyes and look towards where the doctor came out of the ICU. We rushed towards him, bombarding him with questions about Ragini.
He sighed sadly and said, “We…we are sorry. The patient is brain dead!”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I opened my eyes slowly, adjusting them to the bleak surroundings. An overpoweringly familiar smell fogged my senses, a smell I had been subjected to just a few months ago, when I had been hit by that truck. I took a deep breath and instantly regretted the decision, my stomach ached a lot. I cried out in pain but my voice didn’t reach my ears. Slowly, painfully slowly, I felt the oxygen mask on my face, along with the many tubes running to and from my body. Everything- the beeps, the smell, the tubes and the dark- made sense. I was in a hospital.
Flashes of the past few hours came to me as I recalled the call- Sanskaar. He had killed Lakshya. Lakshya……my husband. The scuffle that followed, I recall Swara stabbing me………..
I tried to get up but the searing pain in my stomach made me fall back, moaning silently into my mask. A slow creak made me come out of my pain as I squinted towards the door. A silhouette of a man came in my view. Slowly, he walked towards me and the blurred image of his face became clearer, simultaneously making my heartbeat erratically faster.
“Ragini? How are you, my child?”
I started sweating badly as my eyes widened, seeing the man before me. What was he doing here? How……how did he get to know that I was here?
Slowly, he came forward, bending towards me. I froze, mind blank. He stroked my forehead tenderly and said, “It is time. Get ready to finish your last assignment.”
And as I watched, silently in horror, he procured a syringe from his pocket and inserted it in my veins. The last thing I saw, before succumbing to darkness, was his evil smile, speaking volumes about what my fate would be…………………..
The doctors had refused to allow me to meet my daughter even once. This is ridiculous! I know that nothing has happened to her. Everyone is either crying or in shock but I know that my Laado is perfectly fine. Nothing can happen to her, she is my strong girl, my warrior princess who can fight the whole world for the ones she loves.
It is generally believed that I have had no hand in bringing up my daughter but all I can say is that it is a load of crap. I have had a connection with my Laado since Janki told me that she was pregnant. I remember the thrill that ran through me when I first heard that I am going to become a father. The tears in my eyes when I saw the sonography. And then, the swell of my heart when I saw that cute little bundle in pink, eyes open widely in wonder. Janki had wanted to name her Radha but I knew that a girl as beautiful as my daughter could have only a more beautiful name. Somehow, Ragini fit. It was unbelievable, how when I uttered ‘Ragini’, my baby smiled slightly, thus giving her approval. I knew then and there, that she would become my princess one day. And I was right.
Ragini’s education may have been in an all-girls’ school, but it was THE best school in the city. Nothing lesser than that for her. I did everything I could to make her live her life like a queen, selling my first car to buy her a sitar when she wanted, paying for her music classes, celebrating her birthdays in amusement parks without telling her grandparents-everything. I fought with Maa and Papa for her and did things for her behind their backs. And Ragini returned everything well- she topped her class, won inter-school music competitions, then went to state and national levels contests, was good in sports and debates and essays and won them too. She is a qualified driver and runs an NGO for poor kids who she teaches on weekends. She now also ties up with big hotels and arranges for their leftover food to be distributed to the hungry poor people on the streets at night. She has been doing this since she was 18 and I am every single bit proud of my daughter. She can do no wrong.
I recalled what Swara had told me about Ragini’s deeds to obtain Lakshya. While it was true that Ragini could do anything for her loved ones, attempting to kill her own sister was too much. Ragini wasn’t that type of a girl. Maa may talk all she wants to but I have full faith in my upbringing. This is not right. No. My daughter Ragini can’t do anything like this. There is some deep misunderstanding that needs to be cleared but for that, I would have to talk to my Laado. But how should I go and meet her?
I looked around and found everyone busy with themselves, not paying attention. I stood up and slowly made my way towards the ICU. I opened the door and slipped inside, making sure that no one noticed.
I took deep breaths to calm myself down but the tears in my eyes were refusing to stop rolling down my cheeks. I…….I never wanted this to happen. I am cursing myself for even agreeing to that stupid plan of Swara’s. Ragini is now……….all because of us. We killed her. Whatever she had done, she didn’t deserve to die like that. And moreover, she had done it for ME. I was responsible for every single thing that had happened.
I genuinely fell in love with Swara, wanted to marry her but before that, I had done so many wrong things. I made Ragini dream about us when in reality, I hadn’t even wanted to do anything with her. I made matters worse. If today Ragini is dea…………I am responsible for this. I hope God does a miracle, or else, I won’t be able to forgive myself.
“DOCTOR! MAA! PAPA! EVERYONE!” a loud voice reverberated through the corridor. Shekhar Uncle came out of the ICU, panting and in shock. Everyone surrounded him and started asking him what had happened.
The doctor came running and started reprimanding him for going inside the ICU without his permission. For the first time in my life, I saw Shekhar Uncle in a murderous rage. He pulled the doctor by his collars and started shaking him.
“Why is the ICU empty? WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER RAGINI?”
The doctor looked at a nurse who rushed inside. We tried controlling Shekhar Uncle. A few minutes later she came out running too.
“Doctor……the bed is empty. The patient is missing!”