As desk made its way to Ajmer, Sanskar and Swara sat outside their cave watching the splendour of the setting sun over the orange mountains. The gypsies were competing with each other to have a word with them. They were raised to the peak of happiness when Swara, dressed in the traditional gypsy attire with white flowers adorning her hair, like a born gypsy queen talked to them in their own language. Though she searched for words at times, though she could only say very few words, the whole tribe was more than delighted.
Night came. The light of fire lit up the whole mountain.The peace that was floating over the gypsy encampment was destroyed by the arrival of a man from Ajmer who was riding madly up the mountain side. He came and stood before Sanskar.
“News master.. News from the palace.” said the man panting heavily.
“What is it Niketan?” asked Sanskar.
” His excellency of the Palace is dead.”
Sanskar drew a hand across his face. He let out a shocked gasp.
“You mean Sanjay Maheshwari? are you sure?” he asked.
“Sure master. He was stabbed on his back. His secretary Dushyant Singh is arrested. Her Highness Mrs. Maheshari is reportedly terminally ill.”
“You may go now Niketan.”
The man left Swara and Sanskar. Once they were alone, he turned to Swara and stood silent for a minute. Then he translated Niketan’s words to her in Hindi.
She was shocked. She knew that Singh was a gold digger. But she didn’t expect him to kill Sanjay for fortune.
“Get ready Swara.” spoke Sanskar. “We are leaving for the palace. Now.”
Swara was taken aback by his words. The people of the palace hated Sarovar for what he is. Their hatred for him may have doubled when they found out that she lived him. Then why was he going to the palace?
“Why Sanskar?” she asked. “Why shall we go there? They may harm you Sanskar.”
He smiled down at her.
“I am sorry Swara. Now I think its time for me to tell you the truth. Sanjay is my elder brother, Swara. I am Sanskar Maheshwari, the younger son and heir of Maheshwaris who left everything behind years ago. I wanted to tell you this before. But I thought you may hate me if you come to know that I’m Sanjay’s brother. Sorry dear.”
“I can never hate you Sanskar. I love you for who you are.”
Sanskar narrated her his story. She sat before him listening to every word of his like a kid.
Then she heard him say:
“I must tell my people. The deserve to know the truth.”
As he got ready he went outside the tent. The gypsies crowded anxiously around their leader. Swara couldn’t understand their words. But Sanskar’s word was law. What he wished her to do, she would do. If he wished her to go to the palace, she would go.
Once again, Sanskar spoke to his people in their own romantic language. The listened to him like students would listen to their favorite teacher. He spoke:
“Years ago a slim, handsome youth joined your tribe later to become your leader, as he impressed you all with his excellent leadership skills. For the last five years, though he was very young to handle this position, he led you, guided you and proved himself to be a worthy leader. And that young man whom you all had loved wholeheartedly is me. Your Sarovar. I had sworn to never go back to my blood relatives ever in my life. But now, that my blood brother is no more, that my mom is struggling between life and death, I think it is my duty to go back to them for one last time. I must see my mother before her time comes and must make peace with them.”
The gypsies understood his every word and every emotion that came out with his words. Their sympathies were with their leader. But there was a dumb, child like anxiety written over their faces. They feared for their leader. What if he wouldn’t return to them once he reached the palace? What if he would stay there in the palace with their queen forever? They all knew that the comforts the palace had to offer were tempting. What if their Sarovar and Swara would too get swept away by the tide of materialistic pleasure?
He spoke up once again as if he could read their minda s before they gave voice to their thoughts.
“Don’t worry, I swear that I and Swara will return to you in not more than a week. I promise my companionship and leadership to you all till my last breath.”
The crowd was now convinced. They knew that Sarovar would never go back on his words to them. They bid bye to their king and his queen wholeheartedly knowing that they would come back to them. Sanskar and Swara rode down the mountain to the palace in companionable silence.
“Is your mom dangerously ill?” she asked him breaking the silence.
“Niketan says so. I want to meet her. I also want you to meet her.”
She just gave a sigh.
“This time you enter the palace as the new mistress. As my wife.” he said quietly.
“No I will remain Sarovars wife.” she smiled at him. “I will always remain Sarovar’s wife. No matter what your real identity is.”
They reached the place grounds after 3 hours of continuous horse ride. Sanskar saw the flag of his ancestors flying high, rippling in the breeze. He shouted overjoyed.
“Look Swara the flag is still flying high. My brother is not dead.”
Swara felt some kind of fear gripping her soul. It is not that she wanted him dead. But after the last dreadful night in the palace, seeing the animal in Sanjay unleashed, she was really terrified to meet him. But she took a sigh of relief as she acknowledged Sanskar’s presence with her.
An old man who had been serving the Maheshwaris for several years came running to them. His mature eyes even though they were cataract stricken, could surely identify the younger heir of Maheshwaris, who had always been so kind to the servants, even in a crowd of thousands.
“His highness, Sanjay baba is still alive although doctor says he won’t make it up to dawn.”
The old man led them through the corridors to Sanjay’s room.
The castle physician the same man who attended Swara when she fainted gave Sanskar the details. He was stabbed on the back by Singh. Sanjay’s vitality was ebbing. The wound in his back which has pierced his lung had proved fatal. But Mrs. Maheshwari was better and wanted to see her younger son.
They headed to Sanjay’s room. Shivering, she looked at the man who lay there on the pillows. He was waxen white, his breath came quickly, his hair clung damply to his forehead. But a look of relief lit up his features when he saw them.
“Sanskar” he said “Swara”
Sanskar took his hands.
“We just heard Sanjay. We came at once.”
Sanjay smiled faintly.
“It was Dushyant Singh. He did this to me. I awakened today morning to see a figure in my room. Before I could reach for my revolver, he stabbed me. The servants caught him trying to escape through the corridor.”
Sanskar looked gravely at his brother.
“I always knew Sanjay was a traitor. But tell me Sanjay what can be do for you.”
“No nothing. Just say that you forgive me for everything. I am dying.”
Sanskar said compassionately: “I forgive you gladly.”
Sannjay turned his eyes to Swara an reached for her hands. Scared, she jerked his hand away.
“Don’t worry Swara. I won’t hurt you any more. I know that what I did to you is unforgivable. But stii, for my peace, will you say that you forgive me for whatever I did to you.”
The tears were welling into her eyes.
“I forgive you Sanjay. But I’m the one who should ask your forgiveness. I…”
“No Swara” Sanjay spoke softly. “You are not guilty here. It was me who forced myself on you. I never deserved a pure and pious soul like you. But my ego didn’t let me leave you. But seriously Swara, believe it or not. I loved you. Truly, madly, deeply. That is the biggest truth of my life. Though I felt that I wanted to possess you, now I realize, it was not my lust which made me go mad behind you. But love cannot be snatched na? It is good that you don’t have to lead your life with a rapist or murderer – whatever you feel suits me the best. I am glad that finally you got your gypsy lover.”
Swara was now shedding her tears openly. She gave him her hand gladly. He kissed her knuckles in a gentlemanly fashion, a British style of expressing happiness.
Sanjay then once again turned to his blood brother, Sanskar.
“I have told mom the truth about the girl who died. I have told her that it was me who plundered her self respect. Your image is now clean Sanskar. The whole Ajmer would know the truth by tomorrow.”
Suddenly, his face changed. A spasm of pain shuddered through his body. Turning to the doctor, Sanskar took Swara’s hand and led her out of the room to keep her away from the dreadful scene unfolding.
That evening, when she stood on the balcony watching over the mountains, dyed red by the fiery rays of the setting sun, she saw the ancestral flag of Maheshwaris lowered. A flag dyed black was hoisted high, rippling in the breeze. Ajmer was mourning. The His Excellency was dead. Tomorrow he would lie on the special platform arranged at the city centre so that his people can pay their last respects.
In Mrs. Maheshwari’s room Swara knew a reunion was taking place between Mrs. Maheshwari and his son.
Mrs. Maheshwari was in bed, but considerably better. Her heart was stronger and was more at peace since Sanskar was with her now. Sanskar sat on the bed by her side. She studied his features closely.
“It is difficult to associate my boy with a gypsy outlaw.” she said. “But I don’t mind what you have done or what you are. I am only thankful to god that I can have the chance before I die to make reparation for my many injustices to you in the past.”
“Do not think about it mother.” Sanskar smiled. “I have forgotten”
“We wronged you greatly. But now you’ll come to your own self.”
“Mom, Swara and I cannot stay. We have promised our people our return. The palace and all its possession are solely yours.”
“I don’t care about wealth anymore Sanskar. Life taught me that wealth is not everything. Trust, love and affection of our people are far more valuable than these materialistic possessions. Swara and you are all that I have, my son.”
“But we can’t stay mom. We will come here once in a while to meet you. Probably every weekend? But the gypsies need me mom. I can’t leave them.”
Mrs.Maheshwari protested. She was only too willing to accept Swara as her daughter in law. But later she understood it was useless to argue further.
“You were always a stubborn kid. I won’t force my interests on you. Sanjay and I drove you away from us. If you have a son, isn’t his place here?”
Sanskar’s pulses thrilled. If he should have a son! Swara’s son. That would be ultimate.
“When that happens Swara and my son shall come to you for awhile.”
“I know you are determined. Now that you made the decision, let Swara know it.”
He walked out of the room to the balcony. Swara was standing there with the two giant hounds of Sanjay that has followed her everywhere during her stay in the palace. He stood beside her wrapping his hands around her, watching the setting sun over the mountains.
“We shall go back soon, to our people.” he spike softly. “I told mom that we can’t stay. You are not offended, right? that I gave up our life here in the palace?”
“No Sanskar. I am glad. I do not wish to stay here. Not at all. I love our life there, up in the mountains.You can never be a Maheshwari to me. You are always my gypsy lover.”
“I know Swara and I love that title. We will leave after the funeral.”
Sanskar stood up to his words. After four days they rode back to the mountains, to their simple tent, to their wild lawless people who knew Sarovar would come back. There was rejoicing and feasting at their return. At night, in the darkness the young couple rode hand in hand to the forest where once they had been lovers.
There Sanskar Maheshwari was forgotten. It was Sarovar, the gypsy leader who built his wife a bed of sweet smelling mosses canopied with green boughs. That night in each others arms they found heaven again. Swara slept in the strong warm arms of Sarovar, her gypsy lover.
Whoa..at last, they got their happily ever after. Its time for Swan song. And with the epilogue, gypsy lover will come to an end. Thanks for your wonderful words and support. I’ll answer to all your comments on the previous chapter after submitting this. Do comment. Tell me how was the chapter. Hope you all got what you expected from me. Leave your precious words down there in the comment box. Next is the epilogue. I’ll post it tomorrow.
Which title is best for my next ff?
NEVER LET ME GO
NEVER LET YOU GO
I’ll choose the most commented one.
Credit to: Niveditha