Hey guys…….Bela is back with the first part of Shot 2
I searched for him the entire day, in his office, penthouse, farmhouse, favourite bars and restaurants, hotels, everywhere. I called him up like, a hundred times, cursing him for vanishing just like that. For a split second, I wondered if he had fled. And the next split second, I wondered with dread if he had committed suicide. Then, coming out of the typical Hindi serial mode, I calmed myself down and continued my search.
I lost my will and came back home at night, only to find my object of investigation sitting in the bar inside our house with empty bottles all around him. He was still drinking.
At that moment, seeing him sitting so casually and drinking while I had been out there alone, searching for him like a lunatic, made me mad. I was filled with rage and I stomped towards him angrily and yanked the bottle out of his hand. He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes.
“You? What are you doing here? Did you forget something?” He slurred heavily in his drunken stupor. I threw the bottle on the ground and the glass broke into a thousand pieces on the floor.
“What do you mean by what I am doing here? Last time I checked, I live here.” I glared at him fiercely as I spoke.
He looked at me in confusion. “So you didn’t leave? You didn’t leave me even after knowing that I am a pauper now?” He asked.
My heart broke into a million pieces. I don’t know when and how I managed to form an attachment with him. I just did. We aren’t close but I still care for him. Not romantically, but as a friend. To hear him ask this made me so sad. I know he has a low opinion of women and he forms no attachments, but I had hoped that he would realise that I am different. Alas, that was not so. Suddenly, I felt pity on ourselves. Here we are, two people joined in matrimony, just in name. There is zero trust on either side. He expects me to leave as soon as I come to know that he has lost everything. And here I am, expecting something which he obviously can never give. Here he is, broken and lonely and here I am, in the same condition.
My thoughts were broken by his voice. “Where were you all along if you didn’t leave?” He asked me.
My former irritation returned. “Looking for YOU!” I spat at him. He chuckled darkly. “Looking for me? What for? Seeing if I have any money left to give you as alimony on our divorce? Come on, where are the papers? I will sign them and set you free. I know you don’t want to stay married now. No one does. They all leave, no one stays. When my own mother left me, who are you? Wait, I think I am a bit drunk so I may have difficulties in signing properly…………….” I cut him by slapping him hard right across his face!
“WHO THE HELL DO YOU TAKE ME FOR? A BL**** GOLD DIGGER? A WANNABE?” I yelled at him. His hand was pressed to his cheek and he was looking up at me with wide eyes. He looked scared. Good, because I was ready to do a tandav right there!
“Listen, Mr. Lakshya Maheshwari! It is high time we had this conversation. Let me get one thing straight. I did NOT marry you for your money. I have enough of my own to provide myself with a comfortable, even luxurious life. And I wouldn’t leave you for something as small as losing your money over business. Had you lost it in gambling, alcohol or women, I may have considered it but this is different shit. You think my father never suffered like this? Yes, he didn’t go bankrupt, but he did have his share of lows. And just to inform you, I didn’t ‘leave him’. I am made up of sterner stuff. I have a fair idea of what you consider women to be like and I don’t know which misogynistic shit you are made up of to have such a low thinking, but let me tell you that as a woman of substance, I refuse to be put into the category of crafty gold diggers and common wh****!” I told him angrily.
His jaw had been dropped during my rant and he had been looking at me in wonder. “But I never called you a common wh***!” He whispered. I glared at him menacingly and he, despite being drunk, took the hint and shut up.
I helped him up to his feet and put one of his arms across my neck to support him as he walked. I took him to his room and laid him down on his bed. I took off his shoes and tucked him in, pulling up the covers to his chest.
“You won’t leave now, would you?” he asked me uncertainly. I shook my head to indicate a no and he smiled his first real smile in front of me. I smiled back and went away. As I reached the door, I turned to find him snoring softly, the smile still in its place. I sighed softly and closed the door behind him.
I went to my room and closed my door as well. Various thoughts swarmed in my mind. I knew that Dad wouldn’t loosen his pockets even if I begged him to. He may hide it all he want but I know that his funds are a bit low, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the bills his wife and daughter leave whenever they go shopping. And anyways, a sum of 100 crores was too much for a single man to pay. Apart from him, there is no one who can help us. No bank would loan him and even though I can avail a loan, it may become hard to pay it up later despite my fabulous salary. And the time that the procedure would take would be a problem too. We would have to sell something. With this in mind, I opened my tablet and swiped its screen, working till wee hours of the morning to do a jugaad to save my ‘suhaag’.
I woke up to the rays of sunlight falling on my face. I opened my eyes a little and felt a searing pain through my head. I tried to recall what had happened when all the events of the past two days came to my mind and the pain in my head intensified.
“Drink this. It has potassium in it and that would help cure the hangover.” Ragini’s voice reached my ears. I felt something cold being pressed to my lips and I took a few sips of the drink. Soon, the pain started subsiding.
I opened my eyes fully and scanned my surroundings. The room was clean. I frowned. I remembered tearing up papers and throwing them across the floor and breaking a few vases in anger last night. Where was all that?
“I cleaned it up. Thought you would appreciate sleeping in a clean room as opposed to a pig!” She said again. I looked at her. She was looking tired and deprived of sleep. And yet looked ready to pose for a rustic photoshoot. Did she spend the entire night cleaning my room? Did she wear the costume of a French maid while doing so? I tried to imagine her as such and felt certain body parts of mine become warm with excitement.
“Get ready and come downstairs. We will be planning over breakfast.” she said again and stalked off, leaving me alone to ponder over what happened last night.
I recalled everything. My goodness, she slaps brilliantly! I touched my cheek and winced a little, convinced that a slight bruise was forming. Shall I file a case of domestic violence against her? Maybe I may get time to arrange the money………..Uggh, stop it you fool! Have you gone crazy or what?
I recalled her words. She would not leave me for this. She would be beside me in this phase. Something warm stirred up in my chest. Maybe I hurt her by implying indirectly that she was with me only for my money. And that, I know, is a piece of bull. In our almost six months of marriage, she had never spent a single penny of mine for her own needs. The only time she uses my card is to buy a gift for parties or to arrange a party at our house. And she handles the household finances and gives it to me and I directly pay from my account. Never have I received a single bill where she shopped for items for herself with my money. This new piece of realisation ignited in me a feeling of respect for my wife.
I showered, shaved, put on clean clothes, groomed myself and came out. Ragini was surrounded by papers and she had a pencil in her mouth. Suddenly, I was wary of what she was planning.
She looked up at me and indicated me to sit down beside her. I sat down cautiously, still confused.
“Have you planned anything yet?” She asked me, looking at her tablet.
“I am planning to sell all my property other than my office and this flat. I talked to the broker. I am expected to get Rs. 130 crore, clean.” I told her.
She nodded gravely. “Not bad. I hadn’t expected more than 120. But what about the rest?”
“I don’t know. No bank would loan me even a penny and all my business contacts are suddenly ‘not available’. Even……..” I trailed, unsure of whether to tell her or not.
She shrugged. “Even my father. I know. He would never open his chequebook even for me, you are still the son in law.”
Something about the way she said it made me angry. Why wouldn’t he lend HER money? Isn’t she his daughter? Doesn’t he have a sense of responsibility?
“He thinks that I am now self sufficient to earn and feed myself. His money can be better used and appreciated by his wife and her daughter.” She replied back. I stared at her. This is the second time this has happened today. How does she get to know what I am thinking?
“So where are you planning to get the rest of the amount from?” She asked me again. I shook my head and shrugged. “That is why I was drinking last night. Because I have no clue and I am done for!” I replied.
“I have a plan.” She said, looking at me with a smile. She looked beautiful but that wasn’t my major concern right now. The plan was. I looked at her keenly.
“I live with you and my grandparents’ house, which is in my name, is a liability to me as it requires a lot of maintaneance. How about we sell it?”
I was shocked. Is this woman crazy? She is willing to sell her grandparents’ house, her childhood home for me? Me? Who doesn’t even give her enough credit as his wife?
I protested against this plan and told her that she need not do that for me. She glared at me fiercely again and fearing a bruise on my other cheek, I promptly closed my mouth.
“Do you have a CHOICE?” She asked me and I loathe to admit, that I had to agree that I had none. She smirked in satisfaction while I turned away and started sulking. I know that I should be grateful to her but truth to be told, I was feeling guilty that I could have thought so low of THIS woman. And this new feeling of guilt wasn’t really pleasant.
I had a week’s time to pay up, so Ragini talked to the same broker about her house. Two days later, he brought us a news which was both bad and good.
“I am sorry but that house cannot fetch more than 30 crores. I tried my best, knowing your position but apparently, the house is quite old and not according to the modern standards that are in demand now and the land is also in a very isolated place.” He told us.
Ragini thanked him calmly and then, as soon as he left, slapped her forehead in irritation. “Now what?” I asked her, feeling very dumb for asking her opinion when I was the businessman while she was the doctor!
She was rubbing circles on her forehead with her first two fingers of both hands. Suddenly, she looked up and I saw a crazy gleam in her eye. The same gleam that she had when she announced that she was going to sell the house.
I looked at her warily. She wouldn’t sell the furniture, would she? Will we sleep on the floor? Suspense, suspense!
While I spent the entire day in wondering what she was going to do, Ragini had gone out to complete some ‘work’. At dinner that night, she told me what she had done. And believe me, I had felt like throwing a knife at her!
“I gave the notice to the cook, gardener, drivers and three servants. We would have to manage ourselves with just one servant.” She told me. But this hadn’t really caused my anger. I had actually been quite impressed with her action. I hadn’t thought of it but now that I did, I had to admit that it would be quite economical and would save unnecessary expenditure.
“And I did another thing too. We would get more money.” She told me, smiling crazily.
And my mind started working again. Would she bring in a paying guest? But will that money help?
“I broke down all my PFs and Mutual funds! And I even asked the bank to withdraw the money that had been deposited in my name by my grandparents and mother. And also all my savings. They will have some interest with them so I think that we may be able to get the required sum easily.” She told me happily.
WHAT THE F***? She is going to spend her savings in rescuing me? I am damn sure that she has lost her mental balance! I gave her my fiercest glare and told her that this was too much. I had no business using her savings to save my sorry a**. I tried emotionally blackmailing her and I was damn sure that I would take her down a guilt trip for wasting her money on me. What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was the way she would pick up her knife and look at me menacingly. I gulped down in fear. She is scary! My God, which witch did I end up marrying?
“You were saying something?” She asked me sweetly, too sweetly, in my opinion. I smiled at her which felt more like a grimace. With my eyes trained on the knife in her hand, I said, “I was saying, Thank you so much!”
She leaned back against her chair and gave a peal of laughter. I couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful woman in front of me, my wife, who was seriously backing me in this battle. I realised that I had been at my wit’s end regarding arranging the money and the 70 crores that I needed was going to be my wife’s.
A day later, again a news came. Again, good and bad both.
“Ma’am, after calculating the net amount, deducting the tax and adding the interest, the total amount is coming out to be Rs. 30 crores. It will take two days to complete the formalities and arrange the money to be sent to you. Shall I start the procedure?”
Ragini gaped at him. “30 crores? Just 30? HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE? JUST 30?” She screeched at him madly and the poor man, like a frightened kitten, looked at me for help. Sorry bro, you are asking for help from an already injured soldier! I averted my eyes and noticed the Kashmiri carpet on my study’s floor. I felt proud of my good choice in decor.
“So you are telling me that ALL my savings, and all the money I have inherited, add up to just Rs 30 crores? Do you even know who the hell I am? I am Ragini Shek……Ragini Lakshya Maheshwari! It must be more. You are lying to us!” She accused him.
The poor man explained to her that as per the policy of the bank, the investments done in her name amounted to this as she had withdrawn money earlier too. According to her transaction history, she had withdrawn money to pay for her medical school. Ragini realised that she had not taken a student loan and really, had withdrawn quite a lot of money. Maybe that is why the savings in her name were a bit lesser than expected.
I decided to step in. I told the man calmly that we didn’t require the money but was stopped midway with a sharp elbow on my ribs. I moved aside, shrieking in pain while Ragini told the man to start the proceedings right away. The man nodded and then looked at me to check if I was fine. I nodded to him and he looked at Ragini who looked ready to claw him if he spoke even a word. He passed me a sorry look and then ran out of the door!
Ragini slumped down on the floor and started sobbing. I went to her and hugged her awkwardly, feeling very bad for this woman who was trying so miserably to help me but falling short of the mark every time.
“Where will I get 10 crores from? What will happen? Lakshya, what will we do? How will we pay your loan?” She asked me, with tears rolling down her eyes.
I felt strange. Here was a woman I used to think of just as a show piece, who was crying because she was unable to help me despite doing everything under the sun. I felt strange because I wasn’t used to this kind of an attachment. I wasn’t used to being cared for and thought of like this. I haven’t really taken anybody’s help to do my work and certainly never induced such a powerful emotion in anybody. Except anger and hatred, I had induced them in huge amounts in many people!
I don’t know how I was able to do what I did next. I don’t know where I got that sense from. I don’t know how I was able to pick her up in my arms, carry her to her bedroom, place her on the bed gently and cradle her to my chest, letting her cry. I don’t know how I was able to whisper soothing words in her ear while she shed tears and how I was able to make her sleep. I don’t know how it was that I was able to sleep in that position, beside her, without even taking my usual sleeping pill. And I don’t know how I was able to sleep so well, without any nightmares, after so long.
And I don’t know what changed that night. But something did change.
“Dad, I need to ask for something from you.” I told him as soon as I was seated.
“Money? For your husband?” He asked me, swishing the glass of wine in his hand casually.
I nodded. “I tried to arrange the complete amount but we are still short of 10 crores. I thought that maybe you would be able to help us with this amount………..”
“That isn’t a really big amount for you. You have plenty of money yourself.” Dad said to me curiously.
“Umm……….I don’t think you got my point Dad. We are falling short of 10 crores AFTER arranging all the money we could. I have already included my savings and all.” I told him.
Dad’s eyes widened. He looked at me closely. “So you have come here for……..borrowing money?” He asked me.
I nodded again. I looked at my hands on my lap, feeling uncomfortable with this conversation. It was so weird!
“I am so sorry Ragini. I can’t help you.” His words shook me to the core.
I had always known that my father was a stingy man in all things that didn’t concern his wife and her daughter. On them, the money was splurged recklessly but right now, at this moment, when I needed that money, he can’t help me!
“And may I be so bold as to ask why? I mean, you do have the money with you, don’t you? And I am borrowing money. I would return it later.” I coldly told him.
He sighed. “I don’t have the money Ragini. Mishti’s birthday is in a week and she has asked for a villa as a present. I have already started the procedure. It has cost me 50 crores.” He told me. And I exploded.
“I like it, dad! A new excuse. I must admit, you are original! Why, you had made such a brilliant story even when I had come begging to you to pay my med school fees. It had been your DUTY and still you had managed to wash your hands off it. I don’t get it. Why this step daughterly treatment? Just because my mother’s name was Janki, instead of Sharmishtha?” I yelled at him.
“You are getting me wrong Ragini………….” he tried but I wasn’t having any of it.
“Oh no! I am getting you right for the first time. You are pathetic! Children like me, who are abandoned in favour of another woman and child, at least get monetary support. I have got neither your support nor the monetary support! I never begged in front of you except for two times out of which, this meeting is one. And just like always, there is no help for me! But yes, there is a lot of help for the wife who doesn’t care that you are short of funds or the daughter who left you red faced with her elopement!” I screamed at him.
“Ragini, you can’t talk in such a manner about your sister…….”
I snorted in amusement. “Sister, did you say? I have met her only once in my entire life! And believe me, you can’t stop me today. You know what? I don’t want your money. I would rather sell myself for a night and arrange the money than take it from you! You have really disappointed me Dad. I shudder to think how Maa’s heart must be bleeding right now, watching you.”
Dad had tears in his eyes. I felt sorry for this man who ran away from his responsibilities. He wasn’t a role model. Definitely.
I reached home and found Lakshya completing the formalities to sell off his properties. I felt for him. After what happened with Dad today, I realised that only HE is the one who really needs me. And only he is the one who I need. He looked up at me and smiled slightly. I smiled back. He looked at me curiously and shrugged his shoulders, asking me what happened. I shook my head slowly and blew air through my mouth, indicating that I was tired. He smirked and raised a bag of chips that he had concealed behind him. My eyes widened and I ran towards him while he quickly opened the bag and stuffed a handful of chips inside his mouth. I snatched it away and ran all over the room, stuffing the chips in my mouth and preventing him from reaching it.
Fifteen minutes later, I plopped down on the sofa, panting and sweating. He plopped down beside me, in a similar condition and looked at me sideways. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. I really like his laugh. It is a deep, rumbling sound, like a baritone. It has depth. Honesty. In fact, his voice shook while he laughed and that made me realise that he laughs so little. But he definitely looked great while laughing. It was a look I was willing to see again and again and yet, never get tired of.
Since my breakdown two days back, something between us has changed. We are now friends. No, we didn’t do the typical handshake and ‘Friends? Friends.’ thing but we are now as good as friends. We eat together, discuss things, have real conversations. In fact, I have got to know more things about him in these two days than I had in our entire marriage. I realised that if one gets to know him well, he is just a loner. And that is not a serious problem. Most of his cynicism comes from being a lonely person. Just like me. So I have started being with him as a friend and as a companion. I know that I would have to take the initiative. He is too proud for his own good. As long as I show that I am the one who needs his company, he would be willing to stay beside me. If I tell him that he needs it, he would scoff and walk away!
Now that we are on better terms and so close to the completion of our mission, there is no chance in hell that I would desert him now. But the thing was that I had just two days to arrange 10 crores. Lakshya had to deposit it on the third day or face prison. And I wasn’t going to let him go to prison. He is not a criminal, just a fabulous businessman with a stroke of bad luck. He didn’t deserve that.
“I am hungry.” He told me. Aah, did I forget to mention that due to the shortage of servants, he has been exposed to my culinary skills that I must admit, are fabulous? He, Lakshya Maheshwari, the eternal jerk, himself praised me! I recalled what happened the morning after my breakdown when we had to face the consequences of removing the cook.
I woke up and yelled for Kaka to bring my coffee. No response. And to add to the strangeness of the situation, I felt deep breathing just below my ear, my sensitive spot. I froze in shock. WHO WAS IN MY BED?
I slowly looked beside me to find my husband, with his eyes closed and mouth open, breathing heavily and sleeping peacefully. Our faces were just a few inches away from each other. What the heck happened last night? I racked my brains and recalled the events. Oh my God, did he actually comfort me? Lakshya Maheshwari, the misogynist, helped me? I inspected him closely. And wished that I hadn’t.
He was really very hot and handsome. His jaw was beautifully set while the stubble on his face gave him a raw, rustic and roguish look. His nose was long but well shaped. His lips, which were moist due to the drool that was coming out of his mouth, were a perfect red. His silky hair was tousled and I had to apply major self control to stop myself from running my hands over it. He is dark, his skin is light brownish and believe me, I love it! It felt so smooth. His biceps and muscles were visible since I was using his forearm as my pillow. His first few shirt buttons were open, giving a great view of his sculped chest.
I felt my breath quickening. He is so handsome. How in the world did this perfect creature end up marrying me? I moved aside gently so as to not disturb him but he awoke the moment I stepped out of the bed.
He looked around confusedly. “I slept here?” He asked me. I gave him a ‘Great Observation, I am proud of you’ look and he blushed(OMG!) a little. He smiled sheepishly. I smiled at him and thanked him for comforting me last night. He shrugged and went to his room to freshen up.
I freshened up quickly and went to the kitchen to inspect. The servant we have retained is the one who does the cleaning, dishes and washing. She would not be here for an hour. I would have to fix up the breakfast myself.
Years of living either with my old grandparents, or alone has taught me independence. I am a fantastic cook. I quickly inspected the kitchen and found it well stocked. I opened the fridge and took out the dough. I decided to make aloo parathas as I was damn hungry, all my energy had gone in crying!
Fifteen minutes later, just as I was about to start making the paranthas, Lakshya entered the kitchen, obviously looking for me. He saw me at the counter and his eyes widened. “You know how to cook?” He asked me.
“I even know how to bake. And roast. And whip.” I added menacingly. My trick worked and his eyes widened as he looked at me in fear, thinking that I was talking of whipping him. I quickly pulled out a bowl of curd from the fridge and said, “Watch me whip this curd into a fine texture!”
I swear, the transformation that happened on his face was priceless. He looked relieved and he let out a deep breath and smiled. I was on the verge of cackling madly!
He came closer. “What are you making?” He asked me, going through the contents on the counter. “Aloo paranthas.” I replied.
He grinned widely and for a moment, I was struck at how wonderful he looked. “That is my favourite!” He told me happily and sat on a stool opposite to my counter and looked at me expectantly. “I am going to watch you.” he said.
I shook my head and started working. I would watch him at regular intervals and find him engrossed in what I was doing. I made a paratha, put in some butter on top of it and placed a bowl of curd with it and gave it to him. His mouth had already started watering. He looked at it and then attacked it.
“Hmm………it is delicious! Wow, I had no idea that you cook this well. I would have hired you!” He said while smacking his lips in delight. I smiled at him and put another on his plate. Like this, he devoured four paranthas, having his fill and leaving me surprised.
***End of Flashback***
“You are going to fix up something right?” He asked me expectantly. I sighed and stood up.
“Veg pulao and garlic raita?” I called out from the kitchen. “Brilliant!” Came the enthusiastic reply.
I chuckled slightly. And to think that this is the man who was, till a few days back, such a taciturn and introverted man. He has opened up fine. We still have our differences but we have learnt to coexist without staying silent in each other’s presence all the time.
And for this new precious friendship, I would do anything. I admit, I have never been happier in my life even though right now, my life is filled with worries. I have a plan in my mind. In fact, I had had that plan for a few days now. But I was trying to keep it as a last resort. But now wasn’t the time to be selfish. I would proceed with the ‘Backup Plan’.
The next morning, I woke up early. I got ready in my gym wear and went to my personal gym which I had built in this flat. As I sweated out the extra kilos which I was sure I had gained after eating so much for the past few days, my mind went to Ragini.
She really is something. And I know that I am repeating this statement but this time, this is the truth. The amount of dignity and self preservation she has is just out of this world. I know that she went to her father’s place last night to ask for money and got snubbed. Because he called me later and offered help. I wriggled out the entire information from him and was livid on knowing how he treated her. And proud of the way she kept her integrity intact and yet made an impact on her father.
I could have withdrawn my 75 crores that I invested in his project had it not been for the agreement. According to it, I was transferring the money and getting married to his daughter in return. The day I married her, I lost all right to claim that money. But I do not care. In fact, I am surprised that Shekhar Gadodia would stoop so low as to sell his amazing daughter for such a small amount. It is disgusting. And this change in my feelings is happening because I am slowly understanding the mystery that is my wife, Ragini.
I told him as politely as I could, that I would not accept any sort of help which she had refused. I thanked him coldly for his belated concern and wished him a good night. And felt prouder of myself than I ever had.
But still, the worry nagged me. Just 10 crores. And yet, such a difficult amount for us. We practically had nothing left now. The only way to arrange the money was to sell this place and move into a smaller one. But that all couldn’t be done in a day. Even if I started working now, it would take so much time and we had so little of it left.
I showered and went to the kitchen to find my wife missing but with the breakfast ready and a note on the counter which said that she would be home by noon. I wondered where she went then realised that due to my problems, she had reduced her number of surgeries. Maybe she went for an emergency. I shrugged and focussed on the grilled sandwiches instead.
At about 1 pm, she returned. She had a glow on her face and looked very happy. Maybe she went to a spa to get a facial done. People get it done all the time. I do it too. Not a lot. Sometimes. I hope you get it.
“The amount is complete. In fact, we have an additional 5 crores to act as your capital for the next venture. We did it!” She said happily.
I did a double take. She arranged the money? How? Did she take an advance or something? I asked her. The smile on her face dimmed and she averted her eyes. I knew instantly that something wrong had happened. She did something again. I grilled her for about half an hour, unsuccessfully as the stubborn fool refused to spit out what she had done. She tried to lie that a friend of hers loaned it to her and got caught in less than 10 seconds.
Finally, fed up, I threatened to turn myself in to the police and tell them that I couldn’t arrange the money. She looked up alarmed and begged me to not do such a dumb thing.
“How does it matter where I got the money from? I got it legally, I didn’t steal. So how does it matter?” She argued and stood up to go. I blocked her way and replied, “I have a right to know. Please. I want to know. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, without knowing where it came from. I beg of you. Please.” I asked her desperately.
“I sold my mother’s jewellery! She had been collecting it since my birth till the time she died, for my marriage. It amounted to almost 15 crores, with the amount of gold, diamonds and other jewels in it. So I sold them.” She whispered.
My heart sank. I stepped back and took a deep breath. I know how precious her mother’s memories are to her. With a father as worthless as Shekhar Gadodia, I can only wonder where Ragini inherited her amazing qualities from. I have never heard her speak of her mother but I know that Ragini holds her very close to her heart. She sold her beloved mother’s last legacy, all for me. I couldn’t accept this. Never. I set my jaw in a straight line and told her that she had taken a very wrong step.
“I did it in honour of my mother. She would have been proud of me had she been alive. To her, a husband-wife’s relation was to be respected at all degrees. You know that is the reason she separated from Dad but never divorced him. Because she respected the institution of marriage. Yet, she didn’t return because she had lost hope of ever having him for herself. She knew she had lost him forever to Sharmishtha aunty. These jewels, they had been collected for me. For my marriage. I wore some pieces of it and the rest, they were kept in the locker. Do you understand Lakshya? These jewels were for my MARRIAGE. And if I have come to a situation where I need to save my husband, my marriage, then don’t you think that this is when the real use of these jewels would come up? I am using these jewels for the purpose for which they had been collected. For my marriage. Only, that it is not for wearing on my marriage. It is for saving it.” she said.
For the first time after so many years, I felt tears forming in my eyes. Right at that moment, I felt humbled. I realised that this is what having someone with you felt like. And with a start, I realised that Ragini was indeed the only person I had in this world. The only relative. The only person I could call my own. My wife. My only family. At that moment, I realised the true meaning of family. Of friendship. Of companionship. Of marriage. Of kindness. Of compassion.
I hugged her tightly, sobbing. I don’t know how I would ever be able to repay her for this kindness. I don’t know how I would be able to forgive myself for ruining her life the way I did. She deserved so much better. I made a promise to myself. I would do anything to keep her happy. She has sacrificed so much in the name of marriage. I would do anything in my power to ensure that she doesn’t regret it. Ever.
“I am desperately waiting for tomorrow when we throw the money at that snotty banker’s face! I am already having a ball imagining his expression.” Ragini whispered in my ear.
‘That snotty banker’ refers to the man who the bank sent to remind us that we now had four days left, three days left, two days left etc. He would show up daily and ask us about our progress with a surly face. I swear, Ragini was so fed up with him that the last time he came, she fed him chilli pakoras! He had smiled a little and took a hasty leave as he had some ‘work’. Probably went to soothe his mouth!
I chuckled and she chuckled back. “Thank you so much.” I whispered in her ear. She drew back and gave me a smile. We did a high five and smiled at each other, convinced that we would be great from now on. Even though the status of my work remained a question mark. Even though we had just become friends. Even though we had nothing left. We would be fine.
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