When thunder growls again, Swara closes her eyes abruptly startled. But, she almost feels relieved to break eye contact with her angry broken so beloved husband… memories of the following days plunging her in that unbearable sadness which made the strong woman she thought herself being, soulless. Shattered, she had assisted helpless to Ragini’s path to depression she was veiling behind her daily care for her.
When she feels Sanskar fingers touching her, her heart skips a beat. He clears a strand of hair from her face brushing his fingertips on her sensible skin making her shiver.
Opening her eyes, she discovers his wondering look again…
“- I’m still waiting… princess”
His tone has changed, no anger neither accusation… just worry… just pain…
Sanskar had passed the last six months torturing himself with that question… why did Swara take such a terrible decision for both of them? How could she break their relation like that? What did he do to deserve such punishment? How could she think about Ragini’s pain and not his… not their pain?
The week following Laksh’s missing was like agony for him. The most part of day devoted to his brother’s researches, the deception of not seeing her when he’s back at home devoured him from inside. Never since he brought her to home the first time, he has passed a so long time without seeing her, even when they divorced!
Then all of sudden, she was there at her sister’s side for support… against him!
Tears pearls in his eyes remembering her harsh words before living him… praying her silently for an explanation, a hope that there is still a hope.
Her heart sores face to his pain, mirroring hers as she recalls the deception of his absence after her “accident” when she needed him the most… those days and nights she kept waiting and waiting for his irruption in their room worrying for her in vain. She understands how disappointed he feels about her silence.
It would be so simple to just let go of this vow she made to herself about never let him know what happened… that secret consuming her like an endless fire inside… a fire he’s the only person to extinguish like he has always healed her wounds… he would take her in his arms and reassure her then she’ll feel finally safe… Ragini was right; he has the right to know… she opens her lips about expressing her thoughts then remembering the moment she falls in stairs, she turns away closing her eyes.
Two heavy tears fall on her cheeks as she tries to take her breath, how can she forget the pain she felt hearing his footsteps passing by her door every night without stopping? How can she forget how he made her break her promise to her sister she has kept reassuring that everything will be fine as soon as he’ll bring Laksh home back? Laksh never came back… things never went fine… and above all that… how can she give him that horrible sorrow and pretend loving him more than she can ever express?
Her wrist is forcefully gripped making her turn around to face Sanskar’s irked gaze, he orders between clenched teeth:
“- not today, princess!… not today”
“- kia fayda, Sanskar?… what can I say that changes the facts?”
Her broken voice startles him, he lets go of her hand feeling like his last hope eloping him. Then smiles sadly to her, saying:
“- you’re so right, what can you say? Fact is that you’re blaming me for a fight I had with MY brother on HIS demand”
“- you tried to kill him!”
“- you weren’t there!”
“- so you’re saying that they’re lying? … mum, Uttara, ma … baba… all of them are lying?”
“- you listened to all of them… but never to me!”
She frowns at his accusing eyes, feeling a worrying unease gaining her senses, like a bad omen predicted by the whistling wind wrapping them. She makes a step back wanting suddenly to stop this hateful love story here… but Sanskar makes a step toward her pinning her to the cold metal of his car in her back. He brushes her hair away from her face to look straight in her eyes and say:
“- tell me princess… what if we change the story line? What if that day Laksh’ never gone missed? What if I had let him win that stupid fight? What if it was me who was missing? If it was him who tried to kill me? No, not tried… if he killed me… if I was dead…”
“- SANSKAR!!” she stops him a hand on his mouth shouting at his face angrily.
He takes her hand off slowly looking in her eyes and whispers with an ironic tone:
“- kia hua, Mrs Maheshwari? … scared at the idea of becoming a widow?”
“- just shut up Sanskar!”
She pushes him from her way and walks by him in search for air as she feels suffocating… following her, he faces her laughing at her paled lovely cheeks, breathing hardly a hand on her chest. He asks faking surprise:
“- kia hua!?… dard hota hai, hai na?”
She looks at him angrily gripping to her saree, teasing her, he pulls on his ears lobs, then his cruel smile widens when he adds:
“- no sindoor, no mangal sutra, no bangles… you are looking bilkul like a widow for the past months… and I feel bilkul dead every time I see you, Mrs Maheshwari!”
Swara feels choking as his words were piercing in her heart, her widened eyes shining with unshed tears. His smile fades not hiding his anger anymore when he says:
“- kia?… hurting, na?… do you imagine how I feel when I see, helpless,…”
Caressing her face with his fingertip:
“- … disgusting men eyes admiring my wife’s beautiful face?”
Looking to her from toe to hair:
“-… Detailing my wife’s delightful body dancing?”
Taking her hand in his:
“-… Handling my wife’s hands smoothly for a love declaration?…”
She snatches her hand from his grip shocked just when he adds sarcastically:
“- don’t worry princess… I would be an open minded dead husband… Nikhil is really a good guy, I would be happy to see him romance my widow!”
Not bearing anymore, Swara’s hand lands abruptly on his face slapping him as she shouts with all her forces:
Tears start falling endlessly from her eyes when she yells at him hitting on his chest pushing him back:
“-HOW DARE YOU!?”
As he doesn’t say a word, she cries out pointing her finger to his impassible face:
“- That’s enough Mr Maheshwari!!! Enough!!… Deal was to accept your punishment whatever it could be when you bring your brother back… this is between you and me… so insult me if you want, but don’t drag Nikhil in this!”
At her words, Sanskar blinks many times in disbelief… massaging his cheek, he says:
“- you’re really unbelievable, princess… so much anger, so much pain for your gentle small hand… defending HIM!?… YOU… the mahan Swara Sanskar Maheshwari just slapped you husband for another man!?… wah…”
His mocking tone playing on her nerves, she prefers put an end to this masquerade. But when she’s about going he stands in her way recovering his serious face:
“- I’m not insulting you… I’m insulting myself… I’m insulting my heart for not understanding… for still believing that you have any interest in him… and you’re defending your childhood love…”
As she’s about going again fuming with anger at his words, he raises his hands in defeat and says bending his head:
“- … ok… friend… your childhood friend… kuch!?”
She looks straight in his eyes for a long moment not able to calm down. her gaze goes to his reddened cheek feeling suddenly so guilty about her act, she’s obliged to admit that he’s right, how did she… but then how could he say that… closing her eyes confused, she frowns deciding to go before things turn worse than they are and passes by him without a look. Some steps further, she stops hearing him saying:
“- you’re running away again…”
He comes in front of her folding his arms on his chest before explaining:
“- and… who’s talking about punishment yet?… those are simple facts… and as I know, from both of us, I’m the only one who received a good correction for his misbehavior till now, hai na?… it’s ok, I’m fair enough to admit that I deserved it… what about you?”
“- I’m fair enough to admit that you deserved it too!”
Her spontaneous reply with her so adorable pout makes him laugh freely like he used before. Swara’s expression softens immediately seeing him like that, her heart beats accelerate under his gaze. She clears her throat and says:
“- sorry, Sanskar… but really, Nik…” he stops her again a finger on her lips continuing her words:
“- is just a friend… I know! And what did I say? No sorry…”
“- you know?”
“- ha princess… I know… I know your eternal motherhood protective instinct for every human being crossing your way… this why I never asked before…”
Unconscious about how hurting his words are to her, he frowns seeing her wipe her eyes breathing deeply before replying:
“- before what? Before you decided to punish me ?”
“- before you decide to break our relation”
Swara smiles sadly to him, it has been months she’s listening to his accusations, she folds her arms too and defies him with her big eyes looking straight in his.
They keep eye locked for a while, so untold feelings heaving their hearts. Sanskar couldn’t help himself from putting dancing locks of her silky hair from wind behind her ears to admire her face making her shiver at his contact.
He sighs saying on a calm tone:
“- by the way… deal has never been about punishment, princess”
At her intrigued expression, he explains caressing her hair behind her ear:
“- ha princess… remember your promise… your words… you’ll not fill your maang with sindoor until Ragini’s husbands returns…”
He cuddles her head in his big hands as tears fill her eyes again when both of them recall that moment… getting emotional, he adds with a shaking voice:
“- Until Laksh’ return… we have no relation”
She gapes at his intense look remembering that if the first part of that “promise” has been assured for more than six months… the second one…
— FLASH BACK —
Two weeks ago… Uttara’s sagai function…
Shattered Swara just ends a phone call with Ragini where she announces to her from hospital that Laksh’ is still missing… again, a broken hope.
Sanskar choose this moment to come and add more salt on her opened wounds talking about Nikhil again… after the humiliation she accepted about dancing and money garland, after bade papa blaming, after the lost hope of her sister’s happiness again, she’s really not able to handle her husband’s anger and insulting jealousy, she prefers going without riposte. He calls her back:
“- kia hua?… upset?… Why are you acting like that? Did I say something wrong?”
She faces him with a defying look:
“- Mister Sanskar Maheshwari, I’m your sister’s wedding planner, I’m here to work, you should better talk with me about work only, there is no need to interfere in my personal life!”
When she’s about going, he grips her elbow forcefully and drags her to the store room just behind them a hand on her mouth so no one can hear her screaming…
To be continued…