THANKS FOR YOUR WONDERFUL COMMENTS….
Swara and Sanskar made love again that Tuesday night, as promised. Sanskar came home
late, after everyone else had gone to bed, and knocked on Swara’s door.
After thinking about it all afternoon, Swara had formed an opinion about what was
going on. It was an opinion strengthened by Sanskar skipping the family dinner that evening.
Still, she was taken aback by the expression on his face when she opened her bedroom
door. “Uh, hard day?” she asked.
“You could say that,” Sanskar replied. Then he removed her nightgown. In two minutes
they were both naked on Swara’s bed.
After a fine round of mutual orgasms, at around two in the morning, Swara asked,
“Making up for lost time?”
“Mm,” Sanskar said. “I’ll see you tomorrow at noon.”
“Let me guess. We’ll make love.”
“Mm,” Sanskar said. Then he kissed her, put his clothes back on, and left.
Swara put up with this for the next three days. She couldn’t say she wasn’t enjoying
herself. Sanskar was a superior lover, and whatever demons drove him made him more
daring every time. They made love in the back seat of his car, in an old gardening shed,
and behind a tree in Sanskar’s forest. In one way, though, Sanskar was very careful.
He never gave them a chance to talk. Not a chance to talk, or do anything but make
On the morning of the fourth day, Swara lay on her bed watching him leave her, once
again, and knew this had to stop.
“Later,” Sanskar said, with a smiling flash of his teeth.
“Sure,” Swara replied, though she felt a sinking inside.
He drew up the zipper of his fly, threw her one more smile, and went out the door.
As Swara stared at the cream-colored panels of her closed bedroom door, the sinking
sensation inside her grew. This had to stop. Sanskar couldn’t hide behind their s*x life
forever. Not to mention she wasn’t supposed to be sleeping with him at all, not according
to her policy. Well, yes, they were married — technically. But they weren’t married,
really. They couldn’t really be married until Sanskar declared his true love and respect.
He hadn’t done that. He hadn’t even come close.
In fact, as he’d walked out her bedroom door just then he’d given her no more than a
lascivious grin. Swara rolled onto her stomach. She fought down a wave of self-disgust.
She wasn’t doing a darn thing to protect herself, to keep herself safe from emotional
harm. She was letting herself get drawn deeper and deeper into intimacy with a man who
might never come to love her. True, he was tender at times, and always considerate, but
that didn’t add up to love.
On the bed, Swara buried her face in her pillow. She knew her present actions were
foolish, and she knew if she had any self-respect at all, any intelligence, she would do
something about it.
If she had any self-respect, she would do something, and soon.
They’d made love in the back seat of Sanskar’s Lexus, in Tom’s old gardening shed, and
behind the sugar maple tree by the south fence. They’d done it and had it in every
conceivable style and position.
After three days of this, Sanskar was exhausted. But he was far from ready to give up.
He was just going to have to try harder, he told himself, looking out the window of the
limo as Rajat drove him into town on Saturday. He was going to have to exert himself
yet further in order to run through this thing.
It was impossible to deny any longer that there was a lot more than passion going on
here. Indeed, an astonishing, if not alarming, range of emotion was involved.
All the same, somehow, somewhere, there had to be an end to it.
In the car, Sanskar clasped his hands and tapped both index fingers against his lips. The
problem was that Swara was…different. She wasn’t sharp or sophisticated or demanding.
She was, well, innocent. Yes, innocent in her own crazy way. She was innocent and
generous and uncomplaining. She was the most accepting woman Sanskar had ever met.
He released a deep sigh. Swara was too different. Despite his certainty he would get
tired of her, he wasn’t. On the contrary, there were moments he simply wanted to hold her
close; he wanted to hold her and never let her go. At those moments he quickly roused
himself from the dangerous contentment into which he’d fallen and quickly brought the
both of them to some incredible orgasm.
But that didn’t work, either. After he’d made love to her, he ended up wanting to hold
onto her more, wanting less to let her go.
Fighting a strange species of panic, Sanskar rubbed his fingers up and down his lips. He
had to try harder, that was all. Surely this bounty of feelings had to change, and diminish.
He just didn’t know how much longer he could go on until they did.
Swara waited in her bedroom that night, knowing Sanskar would come. Just past ten
there was a knock on her door.
Oh yeah, big surprise. Well, she had a surprise for him. Dressed in a pair of jeans and
a tee shirt, she opened her door. “Hi, Sanskar,” she said.
“Hello.” If he were disappointed in her casual attire, Sanskar didn’t let on. He stepped
Swara stepped back. “Come on in.”
Sanskar hesitated, apparently noticing her small physical evasion. But he put his smile
back on and came in.
Pretty confident, Swara thought, but then she’d been giving him every reason to believe
she was his s*xual slave.
Halfway into the room, Sanskar came to a halt. “You don’t know how happy I am to see
No, but Swara had a pretty good idea he was about to show her. “I’m happy to see
you, too,” she said.
He smiled and began loosening his tie. For a moment Swara marveled at how far he
had come. He was in her bedroom, wanting to make love to her — and smiling. Could
she have imagined such a thing on that horrid airplane ride from Vegas?
But enough was enough.
She had to retrieve her self-respect, stop playing the doormat. And Sanskar had to stop
evading. They had to see if they really had something going here.
She sashayed toward him. “I am happy to see you,” she repeated. “Very happy.” She
got close enough to stop his hands on his tie. “But it so happens I have a headache
“A headache,” Swara repeated. She tried to soften the blow by tapping him on the
chin. “You look awfully nice, though.”
It took him a second to get it. His expression went flabbergasted. “You mean you
don’t want — ?”
Swara’s eyebrows rose.
“You don’t want — ” He stopped again. A strange sequence of emotions crossed his
face. “No,” he then said, his eyes narrowing. “You’re not tired of me. That isn’t it.”
“Well, no, of course — ”
“Then I must have angered you.” He took a step back. “Done something to displease
“No — ”
“Yes.” He bit the word out. “You’re unhappy with me.”
“Sanskar — ”
He waved an imperious hand. “Tell me. What have I done? I’m not ready — That is,
there’s no reason I can’t change it, make things better. Tell me.”
“No!” Swara made an effort to calm herself. At least one of them should keep their
head. “Listen. Just — sit down.” She pointed to a well-stuffed armchair.
He turned his gaze toward the chair. “Ah,” he said. “So it’s a long list.”
“Sanskar…” Swara wavered. Perhaps they should make love, after all. He was taking this
wrong, so ready for rejection.
But Swara steeled herself. Making love to him would only reinforce the notion that s..
was all they had to offer each other. And it would be disastrous for her self-respect. “The
only thing you need to do to please me,” she enunciated carefully, “is sit.”
His brows jumped. But he turned. With long strides he made for the indicated chair.
Brusquely, he sat.
Swara suppressed a sigh as she took the armchair next to Sanskar’s. She leaned back and
“Are you pleased now?” Sanskar asked.
“Yes.” Swara bit her lip. “How about you?”
“Are you pleased?”
His brows lowered. “Oh, I’m just peachy.”
Swara felt her heart skip around. This wasn’t working. They had to do something
together, something to demonstrate they could enjoy each other’s company other than in
bed. Assuming, of course, that was even true. “Uh, would you like to play checkers?”
He stared at her. “No.”
“How about watch TV?”
His amazement abounded. “No.”
Swara got desperate. “Well how about — taking a walk?”
Some of her desperation must have gotten through. Sanskar gave her a close look. “This
would please you, a walk?”
Swara smiled. “Yes.” Oh, anything.
“Fine.” In one smooth motion, Sanskar stood up. “Let’s take a walk.”
She wanted to take a walk. Taut as a bowstring, Sanskar led Swara out through the
kitchen. She wanted a walk.
He couldn’t imagine what he’d done to turn her off, but it must have been something.
Just before they went out the door, he flipped on the exterior lights. They walked into a
landscape of glowing trees and flowers.
Swara made a low sound, though whether of pleasure or scorn Sanskar couldn’t tell. Hell,
maybe she’d have preferred the natural light of the moon. He hadn’t thought of that.
Clearly, he hadn’t thought of anything that would please her tonight.
Swara’s sneakers crunched on the gravel of the drive that led off toward the garage. “I
remember there’s a kind of meadow at the end of the trees in that direction.” She waved a
hand. “Do you know how to get there?”
Sanskar gave a jerky nod. “This way.” He walked past her and toward the path that
wound through the woods. He didn’t dare take her hand. If he did, she’d find out he wasn’t
nearly as calm as he was pretending.
It was absurd, really. His whole goal here was to come to an end in the relationship. If
Swara were displeased with him, he should be happy. That meant she’d discovered their
fundamental incompatibility. They could come to a mutual, amicable parting of the ways.
But, damn it, Sanskar wasn’t ready for that. He wasn’t…through with her yet.
They walked side by side through the trees. Accompanying them was the gentle
peeping of new frogs and a hint of the symphony of crickets that would come later in the
summer. The setting would have been bucolic if Sanskar hadn’t felt so panicked.
What did she want from him? What?
The path wound upward until the trees thinned. They were beyond the scope of the
electric lights by then, picking their way along the softly matted path.
“Yes,” Swara breathed, looking forward. “This.”
They came out into the meadow, a place of grass and wildflowers left to grow at will.
Sanskar’s hands itched to take Swara and draw her into his arms. He wanted them close again.
But she didn’t want closeness. She’d told him so. Panic clawed its way up his throat.
Swara walked away from him through the long, bending grass. He could see her
breathing in deeply. He gazed around himself in desperation, searching frantically for
something, anything, to say.
“Uh, so how is Sahil?” he blurted.
Dumb. Dumb as a post. But it was the best Sanskar could come up with under the
circumstances. Pretending he wasn’t nearly suffocating from fear, he shrugged. “I haven’t
seen him for the past several days. I assume you’ve continued befriending him. How has he
“The truth?” Swara turned to face him, crossing her arms over her chest. “I think he’s
“Bored? Oh.” Sanskar wondered, without much hope, if this was the problem. Did Swara
blame him for Sahil’s boredom?
In the darkness, she frowned. “Laksh is out of sorts, as well. He’s actually been home
for dinner four nights in a row. Very strange. But as for Sahil, well — I never thought
I’d say this, but I think he needs to be in school.”
On top of everything else, Sanskar felt a surge of guilt. “I tried,” he told Swara. “No one
would take him so late in the semester. Not to mention his running-away problem and
poor grades. And now the school year is basically over.”
“Ah, that’s right.” Swara sighed. “Then even someplace local wouldn’t work.”
“I’m afraid not.”
Swara uncrossed her arms. “What about a tutor?”
“He could make up for this lost semester, maybe even raise his grades.” Swara waved
an arm. “And he’d get some confidence, being at home and getting individual attention and
“A tutor,” Sanskar repeated. So simple. So exceptionally simple, and the idea had never
occurred to him.
“Of course, he still needs some contact with other children his age,” Swara went on.
Her lips pursed. “Maybe a few days a week in a summer day camp as well.”
“Day camp.” But Sanskar was still thinking about that tutor. Sahil could be got ready
for school in the fall. Sanskar had despaired, but it could be done.
“Yes,” Swara said. “Do you think you could find somebody for the tutoring bit?”
Sanskar smiled widely. “I know people who know people.”
“Well, good then.” Swara was smiling, too.
They were standing in the moonlight, yards apart from each other, and both grinning
like idiots. Whatever it was she’d wanted, he’d managed to deliver it, by guesswork, by
sheer, stupid luck.
She wasn’t unhappy with him any more.
The sense of relief that wound through Sanskar was intense. It was so intense it took a
minute before he got it. His smile vanished. His relief turned to horror.
He’d cared. He’d cared about making her happy with him. Desperately.
“What?” Swara’s smile disappeared now, too. “What’s the matter?”
Sanskar stood frozen. He couldn’t believe himself. He was a traitor to his own cause. He
needed her unhappy with him. He needed to make this thing end. Instead he’d just done
everything in his power to make it continue.
Why? For God’s sake, why?
“What’s the matter?” Swara repeated.
“Nothing.” Woodenly, Sanskar turned toward the house. “It’s getting late. We ought to
But Swara wasn’t moving. They’d been happy one second ago, really connecting. And
now Sanskar was acting like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
“No.” She remained right where she was planted. “What just happened?”
Sanskar stopped. His back stiffened. “You’re unhappy with me again.”
“What? No. I wasn’t unhappy with you to begin with — ” Swara stopped. She realized
that wasn’t exactly true. “All right,” she conceded slowly. “Maybe I was a little upset, but
not with you. I was upset with — well, our activities of late.”
Swara cleared her throat. “We only — you know.”
Slowly, Sanskar turned. He was frowning. “But don’t you like — ?”
“Well, yeah, sure.” Swara felt her face warm. “But that’s not all I’d like to do with
He looked so confused, Swara had to smile. “No,” she assured him. “I’d like to do all
kinds of things with you.”
He cocked his head. “You would.”
“But — other things aren’t intense enough. They won’t get us through — ”
“Through? Through what?”
Sanskar shook his head. “Never mind.” He pressed his lips together. “So what, exactly,
do you think you want to do with me?”
“Oh…anything. This walk, for instance. I’m liking this walk.”
“I am.” Swara took a step toward him. “It isn’t all that important what we do, just so
long as we do it together.”
Sanskar’s eyes narrowed on her. “Why?”
Swara hesitated. It was the million-dollar question. And just how far, she wondered,
dare she answer it? “Why?” she asked again, and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
“Well, I guess because…I like you.” Her heart beat very fast.
Sanskar went absolutely still. He stared at Swara like he’d never seen a creature of the
sort in his life. “You like me,” he repeated.
Swara tried to look nonchalant. “Sure.”
Sanskar continued to stare until Swara couldn’t take it any more.
“And you like me,” she announced firmly. She held out her hand. “Come on, you
were right. It’s time to go inside.”
For an awful moment she thought Sanskar was going to ignore her outstretched hand.
But then, jerkily, he reached out. Their palms connected. Slowly, carefully, Sanskar closed
his hand around hers.
“All right,” he said, his voice hoarse. “Let’s go inside.”
Sanskar walked toward the house in a daze. She said she liked him. She liked him. The
woman was clearly confused, muddled by the inexplicably powerful emotions roused by
their physical passion. He was no doubt adding to her confusion in doing something so
cozy as holding her hand.
Nevertheless, he gripped Swara’s hand all the way back to the house. He sensed this
gesture was dangerous, but he didn’t let go. Inside, he hummed.
Hand in hand then, they walked through the kitchen and into the main hall. The stairs
loomed before them. She didn’t really like him, Sanskar reminded himself. She just thought
she did, as a natural by-product of their physical infatuation. The same with him liking her.
Oh sure, she was sweet and nice and all that, but the ‘liking’ would pass, probably around
the same time that their physical obsession faded.
Nevertheless, he kept her hand all the way up the stairs.
As they approached Swara’s bedroom door, Sanskar wondered if she still had a
‘headache.’ Not that it would be a good idea for them to have s*x tonight. In fact, it would
be a damn disaster. She’d take it all wrong. And besides, s*x didn’t seem to be moving this
relationship toward its natural conclusion.
But that didn’t stop Sanskar from feeling a tug of disappointment when Swara let go of
his hand at her bedroom door and turned with definite physical evasion. “So,” she said,
and leaned her back against the door.
“So.” Sanskar had no idea what else to say.
Swara wore a soft smile. “Thanks,” she told him. “That walk was exactly what I
“It was?” But it couldn’t have been, according to Sanskar’s theory. As far as he
understood things, Swara needed exactly what he did: physical passion. Their s*xual
attraction to each other was at the core of this whole mess. A little walk couldn’t truly
have satisfied her.
But Swara’s smile only widened. “Uh huh. You’re very good to me, you know.”
Sanskar could feel his face warm. “Well…”
“You pay attention,” she claimed. Then she stepped forward and Sanskar felt the quick
brush of her lips on his. “Good night, Sanskar.”
He had to close his eyes at the touch of her. Such a simple thing, so soft, so delicate,
yet it ran through him with earth-shattering force. Meanwhile Swara opened her bedroom
door, stepped around it, and was gone.
Sanskar was left in the hall, shaken by that small kiss, though he knew by all his theories
he shouldn’t have been. He really shouldn’t have been.