As he stepped out of the tent he saw a crowd of gypsies waiting for him. The people were wild, undisciplined. There was a general atmosphere of dissatisfaction. Naik, his trusted leader stood at their front. Sanskar was surprised.
“What is it, Naik?” he asked.
Naik bowed his head and regarded his master menacingly.
He was a short, fat man. Sanskar has always believed him to be a trusted servant. He had made him head man and taught him Hindi.
Sanskar even in his wildest dreams, didn’t imagine Naik as an innately unscrupulous and grasping personality who served him with only one motive — to take Sarovar’s place, as the head of the tribe.
“What is it?” he repeated fiercely, his head held high suiting his designation as the Gypsy King.
Swara raised herself to her foot and walked towards Sanskar. From the noise she could make out that something was wrong. Her doubt turned true when she reached the door and searched the crowd with her tear swollen eyes. They looked sullen, rebellious and menacing.
She wished she could understand their language. When she saw the crowd shooting daggers at her through their eyes she hid behind Sanskar, clutching his shirt.
Sanskar understood — only too well. As he listened to Naik his jaw tightened, eyes started spitting fire, fists clenched.
Perhaps you may have heard” Nail said in a harsh, disrespectful voice “The Prince is offering a huge reward of gild and money for the return of the girl and your life. Your possession of this girl here may cause problems to our tribe.”
“There was no question about this the other night, when I brought her here for the first time. You all celebrated our marriage.” Sanskar asked.
“The situation was different then. We thought you would keep her here, with you. But you sent her back to the Palace. We didn’t expect you to visit the palace. The visits that can only harm us” Naik said.
Sanskar looked into his eyes. They held something more than grief. Something which he failed to notice till then. The lust for power. He looked at the crowd and spoke “my visits to the palace are over now. The girl stays here now..”
“It is too late now. The people say it is dangerous to keep the lady her now. You yourself can hear their wish.” Turning back to the crowd, Naik cried out. “Tell him what you want.”
“Naik is right.” they cried out.”Hand over the lady to us. ” they screamed shooting deathly glances at Swara who was now hiding behind Sanskar.
“Are you insane. I won’t do this. She’s my woman. My wife.” He said furiously.
“You’ll lose your position of being our king if you intend to keep her with you.” they called out.
“Am I no longer your king, then?” he asked putting a had on his sword inside his sash.
The crowd started raising their knives at Sarovar, their leader and started believing Naik, their blood brother.
“Give her to us” Naik shouted. “If not, you’ll surely die.”
Sanskar turned to Swara who was now literally shivering with fear. Though she couldn’t understand their language she could understand that she was the reason behind their anger from the glares the shot at her.
“They say unless I send you back to Sanjay, they will kill me.”
She gasped, putting a hand on her now open mouth. She couldn’t let him die for her. No matter how much she hated him.
“Then let me go Sanskar, before it is too late. For God’s sake, Sanskar. they’ll kill you. let me go.”
“Like hell I will.”
Swara tried to understand his words. He told that he hate her, despise her. Then why was he so stubborn not to let her go? He will lose his Kingdom, the respect and above all his own precious life if he ventured to keep her. The people were wild and uncontrollable. She had seen Naik and an other men – whom they called Shakthi looking at her, not with vengeful eyes, but lust. Their eyes were filled with lust.
She looked up at Sanskar. It was obvious that he was determined to not let her go. He was not afraid of their threats. He stood there, his head held high with pride, fierce and valiant. For some reason his attitude made her proud.
He raised his right hand authoritatively at the now noisy crowd. His one simple gesture made the furious crowd silent, giving him time and space to speak.
“Listen people.” he cried out. “I’m Sarovar. Your beloved leader. Many years ago you chose me as your king. And this lady who is standing beside me is mine. My lady. I won’t give up on her for anything in this world.” Turning to Naik, he said ” You. I never thought you to be a back stabbing, double faceted, crooked pervert. You were trying to betray me. I can kill you now. But, I don’t wish to soil my weapon with that filthy blood of yours. I don’t fear your puny threats. There’s none among you who can raise their weapon at me. This girl is mine. None shall dare to take her away from me. Now go back to your tents and let there be peace.”
He turned back to Swara and gripping her hands in his he walked into his tent, closing the door behind them.
Inside the cave she watched him breathlessly. He started tying some bread and wine in a scarlet hand kerchief. When it was done he opened his almirah and took out some silk shawls and blankets and started stuffing it into a leather bag.
“What are you doing? ” she asked.
“I am not giving you up Swara. I can’t even if I wish to.” he said looking into her eyes.
“They’ll kill you.”
“Let them get me first.” he said gritting his teeth.”Those treacherous dogs. How dare they demand you?”
He moved a curtain at the backside of the tent revealing a door of solid rock. “This leads to the other side of the ridge. We’ll make a dash through it.”
Outside the tent, Naik sneered at the crowd.
“You fools. Will you let him intimidate you?”
“We do not wish to be cursed. Those who raise their weapon at the leader will be cursed at the end. You know that.” cried the crowd.
“You don’t know. That girl is a witch. She has casted her spell on our Sarovar. So to save ourselves we must wipe them out of this world.”
The crowd was convinced. They must kill them. The went back to their tents to get enough weapons.
Inside the cave putting the leather bag across his chest, Sanskar asked Swara:
“What do you wish, Swara? You want me to take you back to Sanjay or you want to come with me?”
“Sanskar, I can never forgive you for what you did.You doubted my intentions. After all those accusations do you expect me to come with you?”
“I am sorry Swara. I…”
“Your sorry can’t take away those dreadful memories. your words. But I’m weak. I loved you beyond limits. I still love you. For the sake of that love, I am letting you take me. May be I can’t forget your words. But we can surely make new memories. Sweet memories. I want you in my life. It is as important as breathing is to me. So yes Sanskar I want to go with you. to make new memories. Let this be the end oof our misunderstandings and beginning of the new life which we craved for.”
He suddenly felt light. He was ready to go to any extend if Swara was the one walking by his side, giving him her warmth. He held her close to his chest and kissed her forehead, a simple gesture to show his love for her. Together the mounted on the mare which stood there at the back of his tent with Swara in the front. He wrapped his left hand around her waist and his right hand gripped the reins. “Upwards lovely.” he commanded the mare thus marking a start to their ride to some unknown destination. They started climb up a mountain side. They reached a summit from where it seemed to Swara she could see the whole world.
“There’s a forest on the side of this mountain. We will camp there tonight. Tomorrow we can go on towards the border of Ajmer.”
Swara didn’t speak. She was feeling overwhelmed. It seemed impossible for them to stay together. The world was well lost for the magnificent man behind her, convention and civilization were blotted out in a wave of primitive adoration.
He looked down at her. He loved her, desired her, admired her for her courage. She was once more his lady, once more that adorable Swara of the cruise. He thought he could ride on like this forever, feeling her against him. He bent to touch her heavy lashes with his lips.
“Swara, you understand what you did?”
“you have burned your boats, crossed every limit. For me. You have chosen me against the world. We are going to be exiled – perhaps forever.”
“I don’t understand. Seriously speaking, I don’t want to. Now that you are with me, I can live this life with contentment.”
It was early evening when they reached the forest. They stopped for food and rest. Swara thought it must be the most beautiful spot that nature had to offer.
In this remote place, they made their resting place. Sanskar, clever with his hands, tore down branches and made a rough hut of green boughs. He spread the shawls he brought over the mossy ground which was dry and sweet to smell.
Swara laid down on the bed he so lovingly made for her. She closed her eyes which were heavy with love and sleep.
“Oh God! I love him.” she thought. Sanskar came in and sat beside her stroking her hair gently, his hands warm and possessive.
“My love” he whispered. “You are mine, the heart and soul of me.”
“I love you Sanskar” she said brokenly
He slowly raised her on to his lips and his lips claimed hers in endless kisses.
“Swara, in this forest, under these stars I take again every gypsy vow which I made to love and protect you.” he said
There was silence in the forest save for the unceasing ripple of the brook, the occasional sound of a stray animal.
Swara locked in Sanskar’s arms answered his kisses, his every desire. This was their real wedding night.
“Keep close to me beloved.” he whispered. “you are mine. The wild passionate breath of my body.”
He drew her to him in the darkness of their shelter, and she knew she couldn’t live without him, without that strong demanding body which now was a part of hers.
Tada, here’s the eleventh chappy. Sorry. I know that I am late. But these entrance exams were eating my head. Thanks for all your prayers and wishes. Leave your valuable comments and opinions below. I’d love to read them. If there are any silent readers please please please do comment. It is a request.