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FICTION: A Grave Mistake.

A Grave Mistake.

Ragini was a twenty-six-year-old woman living in Bengaluru with her family. Her father Jayakumar was a well-known businessman. Her mother Veena was a housewife. Her sister Shaila was twenty-two years old and a commerce graduate. Ragini had a slim waistline with curly black hair and an oval-shaped face. She resembled the famous film star, Sridevi. Young men were smitten by her beauty, but she turned down their proposal. She was in love with a young man called Mehul. He was her senior and a college mate. They were like two inseparable soulmates for life. They had planned to marry after their graduation. Ragini's father was against this match.

Ragini coaxed her father to meet him once and then take a decision. He agreed to meet him, but Mehul did not turn up at all. Ragini was heartbroken. Her father told her to stop pining for the worthless fellow. He sent her abroad for higher education so that she could forget him. She had returned to India after completing her post graduation in London. Her parents were seeking suitable alliance for her.

Ragini was going through the photographs of some prospective bridegrooms. She looked at one photo and burst out laughing. " What's so funny?" demanded her younger sister Shaila. Ragini passed on the photograph to her and said "Just look at this man. His facial expression reminds me of someone suffering from severe constipation." Shaila giggled and handed the photo to her sister. "Here is another one," Ragini said with a smirk "This guy is a total jerk. He looks like a scarecrow." Her sister could not control her laughter. Ragini's mother Veena did not like her sarcastic comments. She scolded her "You should not criticize others. Haven't I taught you to be modest? I guess something went wrong with my upbringing." Ragini rebuked her by saying "Stop being an emotional drama queen." Her mother retorted "You won't get married if you keep on rejecting your suitors."

Ragini made a face and said " I am not at all desperate for marriage. I won't mind being a spinster."

"How can you be so selfish? Did you ever think about Shaila's future? Who will marry her?" Ragini yelled at her "What is the purpose of marriage? I won't marry for the sake of satisfying some asshole in bed and bear his children." Veena looked at her rebellious daughter in exasperation. She left the room and went to prepare dinner. Shaila and Ragini went for shopping. It was 9.30 PM when they came home with loads of shopping bags. Their father was pacing back and forth angrily, in the living room. Shaila was nervous. She was scared of their father. He thundered " Do you have any sense of responsibility? Did you care to see your watch?" Both the girls offered their apologies. After a quiet dinner, they retired to their respective rooms.

Ragini was unable to get over her first love. It was going to be four years since he mysteriously disappeared from her life. She longed for his company and wished he would come back from his exile.

Ragini woke up very late in the morning. Her father had already left for office. Her mother looked at her scornfully before bringing her a cup of coffee.

Ragini had a quick shower and a breakfast. She had meticulously planned her schedule for the day. She was a freelance journalist by profession. She had to submit her articles to the editor of The Fortnight Reporter.

Ragini worked on her laptop for two hours and finally completed her task. Her best friend Priya invited her to a restaurant for lunch. She arrived at The Food For Thought restaurant where her friend Priya was waiting for her. Priya hugged her, and both of them joined rest of their friends at the central table.

Ragini hummed a little tune and grinned at her friends. She asked Priya " Hey, Priya! Is there anything special today? What is the reason behind this special treat?" Priya answered "I have just got a job with a five-figure salary. I am going to Germany after one month of on- the- job training." " Great!" said Ragini "Congratulations to you. May you succeed in your new job." All the girls cheered for Priya.

Ragini cast a casual glance around another table. She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw Mehul with his wife and kid. " Excuse me, girls," she said, " I will come back in a moment." She sauntered over to the table where Mehul was sitting with his family. She tapped him on the shoulders and said," Hi, Mehul. What a pleasant surprise! I never expected to see you again after all these years." He turned around to face her. He became pale when he saw her. Nevertheless, he managed to smile. He said, " Hi, Ragini. I am glad to see you. Let me introduce you to my wife and child. This is Neha, my wife and this is my son, Arav. He recently celebrated his second birthday." He told Neha that Ragini was his junior and a college mate. He also added, "I have always looked upon Ragini as my kid sister." She was stupefied on hearing his blatant lie. Ragini's anger knew no bounds. She wanted to strangle him but controlled her emotion. She shook hands with Neha and gently ruffled Arav's hair. She said, "Your son is very cute. He looks just like you, Neha." Neha smiled at her and replied "Thank you, Ragini. Why don't you come over to our house for lunch someday? " Arav tugged at his mother's clothes indicating her to take him to the restroom. Neha took him to the restroom.

Ragini asked him, "Why did you lie to Neha about our relationship? Why did you leave me in the lurch? I had almost convinced my father about our marriage. He wanted to meet you, but you didn't turn up. Explain your mysterious disappearance." He said, "Please promise me that you won't disclose my revelation to your father." She nodded and urged him to continue his tale. He said, "Your father called me a day before our proposed meeting. He offered me financial assistance in exchange for my disappearance from your life. I had no other choice but to accept his offer. I desperately needed money for my mother's medical treatment. He paid me ten lakh rupees for this purpose." Ragini interrupted him and said, " How could he know your number? I had never given it to him." "Isn't it obvious? He called me from your mobile number. He cleared the call history to avoid getting into trouble. I hope you will forgive me. I love my wife very much. That is why I lied about our relationship." Ragini was consumed with rage. She hated both these men for betraying her trust and love. Mehul's explanation did not justify his betrayal. Ragini felt as if she was stabbed in the back by two men who meant the world to her.

She suddenly smiled at him and said, "I am sorry. I misjudged you. Your love for your mother was far greater than our love. I don't blame you. Had I been in your place, I would also have done the same thing. Don't worry. I won't reveal our secret to Neha. I won't interfere with your family matter." Mehul was relieved to see her smiling. He had half expected her to slap him or hurl abuses. She was as cool as a cucumber. Neha returned with Arav. Ragini asked her," Are you working or a housewife?" Neha said, "I am working in a private sector bank. I have to leave him in a day-care centre." Ragini inquired about the details of the day-care centre. Neha didn't suspect her motive and voluntarily gave out the required information. Ragini also asked for their address on the pretext of sending her marriage invitation to them. She managed to get their address and took their leave. She waved at them and returned to her seat.

When she returned home, she was surprised to find some guests. An old man of her father's age and a young man in his early thirties were chatting with her parents. Her father beckoned her to sit beside him on the couch. She obeyed her father and greeted the guests with a dazzling smile. After the introductions were over, Ragini offered them tea and snacks. They chatted for some time and then took leave.

Later that evening, Ragini's mother was in an ecstatic mood. She came up with a box of sweets for Ragini and said "Congratulations, Ragini. Your marriage has been fixed with Sameer. Your father's friend Gopal just called up to say that Sameer has expressed his desire to marry you. They are looking for an auspicious date to fix your engagement with him. This weekend I have invited their family for dinner. If everything goes well, you will get married by the month of December. Isn't that exciting?"

Ragini was angry. She threw the box of sweets in the dustbin. "How dare you fix my marriage without my consent?" Her mother said "Your father has already given his word that you will be married to Sameer. This will strengthen our family relations and business. I hope you understand and obey your father." Ragini had already devised a plan to call off the wedding. She pretended to listen to her mother. She said "Of course, Mom! I will never dare to go against his wishes. I am sorry for my outburst." Her mother smiled at her. Ragini hugged her and went downstairs to meet her father. He was reading the newspaper when Ragini cleared her throat to capture his attention. "What is it, young lady?" he asked her adjusting his spectacles. "Dad, could you arrange for us to meet privately? I want to know about his family, his likes and dislikes."

It was finally decided that the couple would meet at The Lakeview Restaurant.

Ragini looked gorgeous in her tight blue jeans and white top. She reached the restaurant within twenty minutes. Sameer had not yet arrived. She occupied a table near the entrance and ordered a glass of orange juice. She was getting restless. There was no sign of him even after fifteen minutes. She was about to get up and pay her bill when she noticed him walking in like a prince. Sameer noticed her and walked up to her table. "Hi, gorgeous!" he said " I am sorry I was late. You look beautiful in that outfit. I would like you to wear traditional Indian dresses after marriage."

"Excuse me," Ragini said " I wanted to tell you that I can't marry you. I am in love with someone else. Please call off this alliance."

"Are you joking?" Sameer asked her incredulously "Our families have already started making preparations for our grand wedding. Your father told me not to believe your single word. He also said that you would be coming up with excuses to prevent our marriage. My mother has asked me to give you this list of do's and dont's that you are expected to follow. She also asked me to give this bracelet and anklets. I hope you are ready for the day. You need not go to work. You would be required to take over the kitchen duties. Do you know how to cook?"

Ragini wanted to punch him on his nose. She took the letter from him and read it. Ragini was sure that she could not live in a traditional and conservative family. She tore the letter into several pieces and handed it back to him. She said " Take this as my return gift to your mother. Ask her to find some brainless beauty for you. I am rather surprised at your stupidity. How could you think that I would give up my freedom? Are you expecting me to be slogging in the kitchen like a slave?” Sameer was dumbfounded on seeing her outburst. He said "I thought girls were supposed to be docile. Most of the women listen to their parents and adjust themselves according to their new environment. It is their duty to shoulder the responsibilities of their marital home." She yelled at him "I would like to know about the source of this bullshit advice. I think you are an egotistic maniac. Please do me a favour. Just get lost and do not show your ugly face to me. If you pester me to marry you, I will have you arrested for harassment." She stormed out of the restaurant leaving him in a state of shock. He had never been so humiliated in his life. She had left him with a broken heart and a wounded pride. He got up and paid the bill. His head was still reeling under the impact of her harsh words. He was lost in himself while crossing the road. He did not see a speeding truck coming his way. The result was inevitable. He was run over by the truck and killed instantly.

Ragini's mother shook her hard to wake her up from her deep slumber. Ragini was annoyed. She scolded her "What's the matter? Can't you let me sleep in peace?" Veena burst into tears and said "I hate to break this heart-wrenching news to you. Sameer was killed yesterday in a road accident." Ragini was placid. She said "I am sorry to hear about Sameer's untimely demise. Please tell Dad to convey my condolences to his family " Her mother was shocked to see her reaction. This was a big jolt to her family, but she remained unaffected by the gloomy atmosphere.

Ragini diverted her attention towards seeking revenge from Mehul and her father. She devised a foolproof plan to achieve her goal.

She decided to use her friend's car as her father used their family car to go to his office.

Ragini was lucky. Her friend Deepika had agreed to lend her car.

It was around 2.00 PM. Ragini drove up to the daycare centre in Deepika's car. She had obtained their phone number from Neha herself. She had lied to Neha that she wanted the contact details of the daycare centre for her friend. She made a hoax call about a bomb being planted in the daycare centre. There was a huge commotion as the warden gathered all the children and rushed out to the exit gate. Ragini seized this opportunity and crept slowly towards a crying Arav. He stopped crying when she offered him a chocolate. She carried him towards her car without being seen by anyone. The boy fell asleep in her car after eating the chocolate. She had laced the chocolate with sedatives. She sped off towards her home. She was lucky that no one was at home. She had a spare key of her own. She opened the door and came back to fetch Arav from the car. She carried him to her bedroom and smothered him with her pillow till he died. Ragini was a cold-blooded murderer. She had just killed a young innocent toddler. She had no remorse for her action. She wrapped his lifeless body in her bedsheet and hid him in the car.

The Warden had noticed that Arav was missing. She called Neha and informed her about Arav's kidnapping. Neha was on her way to the day-care centre. She was very frantic and called Mehul. They reached there within half an hour. They made an extensive search of the premises. He was nowhere to be seen. Neha broke down in Mehul's arms. Though he tried to console her, he was worried about his son. They filed a police complaint and returned home. Mehul paced to and fro in the living room waiting for the kidnapper's call for ransom. He was willing to pay any amount to get back his son. The night was over. Mehul had dozed off on the couch. His father was resting in his armchair while Neha was still wide awake. Mehul's mother went to the kitchen to prepare coffee.

Ragini woke up before the dawn break and drove her car with Arav's body. She reached Mehul's house. After making sure that no one saw her, she carried the dead body and threw it in the garden. She went back home after the disposal of Arav's body.

Mehul's mother went to the garden to pick flowers. She stumbled upon something and fell down. She was surprised to find a strange bundle lying amongst the bushes. She opened it and let out an ear-piercing shriek. Mehul came running with Neha behind him. He was numb with shock to find Arav's lifeless body. Neha screamed and wept bitterly. She bent down to kiss her son. She said "Why did you leave me? Please come back." Mehul could not speak for a while. He patted her head and sat beside her. Neha suddenly got up and wiped away her tears. She said "No one can snatch my Arav from me. I am going to join him." Before Mehul could stop her, she went to the terrace and bolted the door from inside. She jumped off and landed with a thud. Mehul and his parents were left in a state of shock to find Neha's dead body. It was too much for Mehul. He had lost his son and wife on the same day. The last rites for Neha and Arav were duly performed. Mehul and his parents went back to their ancestral village after selling their house.

Ragini decided to end her life after punishing her father who was responsible for her misery.

It was Sunday. Ragini forced her mother and sister to go out for shopping while she would prepare a special dinner for the family. She prepared various delicacies including the carrot pudding. She took a small bowl and poured some pudding in it. She opened the bottle of rat poison and poured it over the pudding bowl. She stirred it well and offered it to her poor father. He gulped it down at once. He had a strange burning sensation in his stomach. He asked Ragini to call the ambulance. She took no notice of his pleas for help and enjoyed every moment of his growing agony. He breathed his last after waging a futile battle with life. Ragini was happy that the main villain in her life was gone forever. She took out a scribbling pad and wrote a note for her mother and sister before consuming the poison.

Veena and Shaila were surprised to find the door open. Both screamed at once when they saw the bodies of Ragini and her father lying on the floor. Shaila was horrified to read the note left by her sister. Ragini had confessed to killing Arav. She also owned up that she was responsible for Sameer's death. She mentioned that she had killed her father because he had ruined her life.

She showed the note to Veena who tore it up and wept inconsolably to mourn the loss of her husband and daughter. Shaila hugged her mother and they cried for the rest of the evening.

Had Jayakumar given in to his daughter's wishes, these tragedies could have been averted.

Content created and supplied by: Oloruntoba139 (via Opera News )

Bengaluru Mehul Ragini Shaila Veena


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