“This Swara is such a shameless girl na, because of her, the entire family’s pride is just gone with the wind.”
Ragini shut her eyes close and fisted her palms when she heard people saying such things about her sister.
“Ragini, beta! Please marry Lakshya! I know you said you don’t want to be stuck in a loveless marriage. But, please! My reputation is at stake! I’ve never asked you to do anything for me. Please, for once do something for your family.”
“Seriously? She’s never done anything for this family? How could you say that Dadi? All she’s ever done is for your goddamn family.”
Sanskaar said even before Ragini would end up getting emotionally blackmailed.
Before Ragini could even complete her statement, Sanskaar did something really shocking. Ragini’s mouth flew open in shock, while she just stared at Sanskaar who had picked her up bridal style.
“Bhai? Did you just–”
“Le liye 4 phere humne–Arey, wait I’m supposed to lead for the last 3 na, hum woh bhi sort kar lenge.”
With that, Sanskaar gently set Ragini down as he held her hand and took the last three rounds around the sacred fire. He then went on ahead and tied the ‘mangalsutra’ around her neck and proceeded to fill vermilion in her hairline.
“Ragini is now officially a bahu of the Maheshwari family, I couldn’t be happier!”–Sujata exclaimed in joy, while everyone else practically glared at her.
“Swara made a joke out of me. Out of our love. I hate her. And bhai married her sister. Bhai, I don’t know how I can face her sister who was my ex-fiancée every single day? Why would you do this to me? And Swara, How could she do this to me? HOW?”
“My daughter didn’t even get a decent wedding because my other daughter ran away, what am I supposed to do, celebrate?”
“I can’t believe Swara would just run away, I’m her mother, she could have told me what was going on, I would have helped her. She shouldn’t have just left.”
Ragini was done with everyone just blaming Swara and finally said it.
“No! It’s because of me! I pushed her into a river, because I didn’t want her to marry Lakshya. Because, well I loved Lakshya and she snatched my love from me. Swara’s gone. If she survived, good for her! If not, well then, there’s only one half of Swaragini remaining and that’s me.”
So, when Swara walked in with a bandaid on her forehead, everyone believed Ragini. They believed that Ragini would actually try to kill her sister. ‘Why are you here Swara?’, Ragini thought as she stepped in even before Swara could say anything about what happened.
“See, Swara is here. After all, I’m just her step-sister. Why would I hesitate to kill her? She doesn’t deserve to have someone like Lakshya in her life.”
“Ragini, what are you saying? We’re step sisters by chance, but we’re soul sisters by choice na Ragu? Why don’t you just tell everyone the truth? The truth that–”
“The truth that I pushed you off the bridge when we went to the temple, because I can’t see anyone else getting married to Lakshya.”
“Please, everyone! Believe me, Ragini didn’t do anything wrong, it was my fault!”
Swara said as she sobbed while looking at Ragini. Ragini looked at her and turned her face away to try and contain her sobs. Meanwhile, Lakshya looked at her broken-hearted and angry.
“Ragini, wow. Just, wow. You don’t deserve to even stand here in the general vicinity of any of us. You were supposed to be this innocent girl, but you’re a cunning, horrible wretch. I can’t believe I thought of you as a friend. I should have known you weren’t over me and that you’re obsession was really dangerous. I should have known you’d do something like this. You’re a spineless woman. How obsessed and evil can one get? You pushed your own sister off a bridge. You’re a freaking murderer. And look at Swara, she’s here trying to save you by saying you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Ragini, I can’t bare to stand here and look at you. I feel ashamed calling myself your father. From today, I have only one daughter and that is Swara.”
“Ragini, what did my daughter ever do to you? I thought of you as my child, but this is what you did? How could you?”
Swara gave Ragini a determined look as her parents smothered her. Ragini looked away, but Swara noticed the red looking thing in the partition of her hair. Vermilion? Swara slowly pushed everyone away from her as she looked at Lakshya. Lakshya seemed to have noticed her gaze and stopped glaring at Ragini. Swara’s eyes kept shifting to Ragini and Sanskaar and back to Lakshya.
“Gosh, Swara! Thank god you’re here. These people wanted to get me married to that wretched woman! But, before that happened–”
“Sanskaar filled her hairline with vermilion didn’t he?”
“He did more than just filling her hairline. He married her.”
Before Swara could say anything else, the entire family started bad mouthing Ragini and spoke of kicking her out.
“This house is Sanskaar Maheshwari’s, just as much as it is Lakshya and Adarsh Maheshwari’s and therefore as his wife according to Indian customs, Ragini has every right to stay here. I’m going to stay here too, as Lakshya and I will get married right now, so she deserves to stay here as well.”
Swara said, trying to put an end to their discussion. Ragini looked at Swara with wide eyes and nodded her head in disbelief.
“Swara, Don’t do this. I mean to say ki, don’t you think I’ll end up harming you? I pushed you off a bridge Swara! You don’t think I could hurt you again? Especially if we’re living under the same roof?”
Ragini said trying to get Swara to back off from the decision she just made.
Lakshya had finally had enough of Ragini’s nonsense and was about to slap her, when two hands stopped him. His brother and his love. Sanskaar and Swara looked at each other and gave each other this look of appreciation, grateful in a way that the other had their back and pushed Lakshya’s hand away. Sanskaar held onto Ragini’s hand and gave everyone a piece of his mind.
“All of you. Who do you think you are? You think you can just badmouth Ragini and act like you’ve done nothing wrong? Please. All of you have neglected her, her whole life. You, Shekhar Gadodia, were a horrible excuse of a father, you Mrs. Sharmishta Gadodia only cared about your own daughter, You, Lakshya Maheshwari just think about yourself and kept breaking Ragini’s heart and you, Mr. DurgaPrasad Maheshwari, you just keep imposing your rule. I thought SwaRagini must have helped you change, but well, would you look at that. Old habits die hard I guess. None of you have any right to say anything against Mrs. Ragini Sanskaar Maheshwari.”
“Sanskaar, Chore! Just by filling her forehead with vermilion, she doesn’t become your wife.”
His mother screeched, wanting Ragini’s ‘evil’ self to be- far, far away from her child. The only person who hadn’t said anything so far, was Sanskaar’s father. He seemed to know something others didn’t.
“Waah mom! Traditions work as per your convenience, haina? Jab pasand aya, tab ek tradition ko strictly follow kiya, or jab accha nahi laga, tab hum suddenly 21st century ke log ban gaye, haina? I hate to break it to you my dearest Maheshwari Khandhan and Ragini’s namesake family, but Ragini and I are legally spouses for life. You see, I got our marriage registered long time back. Also, this might be my chance to let you all know that half of all this ‘jaydaat’ you guys have, belongs to me and therefore it belongs to my wife as well.”
Ragini didn’t know what to say. Her friend, whom she had tried to redeem had now done something unexpected. When did he get their marriage registered? It didn’t matter anymore since it had happened already. She had no choice but to accept it. She couldn’t let Swara do this though. She couldn’t let this happen. She couldn’t let Swara marry Lakshya Maheshwari. It was too late though. Before her, stood her sister Swara. They stood like parallels, both having their hairlines filled with vermilion and nuptial chain around their necks. ‘When did this happen? Why, why Swara? No, I have to do something about it.’
“Oh! By the way, Ragini has every right to stay in this house. She didn’t do anything wrong. And as far as her harming me is concerned, do you all not trust your beloved Lakshya? He would never let anything happen to me, right?”
Swara said as she looked at her so called family who didn’t hesitate to disown her sister with anger.
2 days before the entire fiasco:
“Ragini, hypothetically: if I told you I didn’t want to marry Lakshya, if I told you that maybe I didn’t exactly love him and perhaps it was just because of that one good thing he did that helped us become Swaragini that I was attracted to him, what would you do?”
“Swara, hypothetically, if you said you didn’t want to marry him, I’d send you somewhere far away and cover for you, because knowing our family and their pride, they would rather trap their children in loveless marriages than break off a marriage. I’d send you somewhere far away and protect you until things were handled here and you coming back wouldn’t mean pain and suffering for you, but only acceptance.”
Ragini knew that Swara’s question wasn’t hypothetical. She knew her sister. She knew that her sister wasn’t just having second thoughts, but she was questioning her entire relationship with Lakshya. Perhaps the only reason the two fell for him was because they cared about each other so much, that the person who actually helped them become one, meant a lot to them. Ragini’s answer wasn’t just words that were thrown in the air. She meant each and every single word. Her sister had just gotten a family, she wasn’t going sit and watch as it was snatched from her just because she wanted to make a choice of her own, especially when it was concerning her future.
On the day of the wedding:
“Swara, I’ll drop you off at Rishab dada’s(big brother’s) house. I know tum yahin soch rahi hogi, ki main kabse kisi ko dada bulane lagi? But, well I’ve known him for that long. He is one of Sanskaar’s closest friends, actually.He was our senior in school and well, he’s my bhai now. Trust me Swara, dada is the sweetest person I know, well apart from you my Shona and he’ll ensure that you’re alright.”
“Ragu? What will you tell our family? What will you tell Lakshya? Why will you–”
“Chup. Bilkul chup. I will handle everything. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do.”
“Because, then I’ll stop you?”
“Because, you’ll make me question my methods and let yourself get trapped being with someone you didn’t want to and being in a family you didn’t want to.”
“I have nothing against them, but they need to stop being so prejudiced and Lakshya, I just, I don’t know. Maybe, some time away may actually help. Ragini, are we doing the wrong thing?”
“Maybe Swara. Maybe we are. But, Shona, you’re future and you’re life depends on this. You had always been apprehensive about this wedding though you were ‘in love’ with Lakshya and as your family, everyone else should have atleast asked you once, if you were really sure, if you were actually okay with it. I know that right now things seem bad, but I’ll handle everything. I won’t let anything happen to their reputation or yours. I won’t let anything soil the relationship you have with our family. We all just got you, I can’t lose you because our family’s pride matters more than your feelings.”
“But, I was being indecisive and–”
“So, was Lakshya. Him being indecisive is okay just because he’s a brat? Or just because he’s male? Swara, please don’t think about this too much. I promise, I will handle this. I won’t let anyone badmouth my sister.”
“You didn’t want anyone to badmouth me, but you want me to just stand there and do nothing as they badmouth you? Are you crazy Ragini? This is how you handle everything? This is how you ensure no one badmouths me? My making yourself the bad guy?”
“Swara, that was the only logical explanation. An explanation that people would believe. Why did you have to get married to Lakshya and get yourself trapped somewhere you didn’t want to.”
“Because, I’m not leaving my sister alone. Yes, I trust that Sanskaar won’t let anything happen to you, but that doesn’t mean I’ll leave you alone. I will stay here and ensure that no one says anything that would hurt you. I will ensure that no one badmouths my Ragu. I will ensure that no one even dares to think about hurting my sister. We are SwaRagini and I vow to fix your relationship with our family as well as this whole Maheshwari Khandaan which in a way is our new family.”
“Swara, I can’t let you do that! Dadi will end up ‘disowning’ you and separating Ma and Baba. Right now this is the best way Swara! If I’m the one at fault, they will accept you and give you the love you deserve!”
“If you’re the one at fault, you become a girl that tried to murder her sister! That’s not who my Ragu is! Even if you said it yourself, they should have trusted you. Even if you were to actually push me off a bridge, I would trust you blindly Ragini. They need to see that. They will make you a freaking doormat and step all over you! I won’t let them do it!”
“I won’t let that happen either, Swara.”
SwaRagini turned to look at Sanskaar who just joined their conversation. Sanskaar stood next to Ragini, and spoke as if he had never been more sure of something in his entire life.
“I told you Ragini, I won’t let them hurt you. I’ll be the one to shield you and ensure that Swara is able to prove that you’re lying. And because I know how much Swara means to you, I’ll ensure that she doesn’t get trapped in a marriage she didn’t want in the first place. I’ll ensure that she doesn’t end up getting ‘disowned’ by your family. This is my promise to you Ragini Sanskaar Maheshwari. I will ensure that SwaRagini get the love and happiness they deserve. I will ensure that SwaRagini aren’t suffering together, but are happy together.”
How was this? Too unreasonable? Well, I still think it’s better than Ragini being evil.
Let me know what you think.