Sanskar left work at six. His car had been returned to him after the problem had been fixed. What a
day it had been. And what a way it had ended – with the announcement that Ragini was pregnant.
While he was elated with the news, he was also well aware of the consequences of it. Ragini had
always said she would like to take a career break once she had children, at least until her kids
started school. That meant Ragini would leave in seven months. He needed to talk to her frankly
about her future plans, but tonight had not been the time to dampen their happiness. He would
also need to start looking for a replacement after his talk to Ragini. At this point when a new
client had just come on board, he could ill afford any interruptions.

Tonight however he was concerned with another more pressing problem. Trisha had rung, just as
he was leaving. She was flying in for one night and wanted to see him urgently. She had sounded
nervous. He had agreed to meet her at their usual restaurant. Trisha was a stewardess with Viser
Airlines and a part-time model as well. She had also been his strength when his brother had died.
He decided he would concentrate on Trisha’s problem first and then deal with Ragini’s.

The music in the car was relaxing and he cruised comfortably along. Then he glanced in the rear
view mirror and saw a blue station wagon come into his view. It was definitely speeding towards
him. Sanskar realised that if he did not take some sort of evasive action there would definitely be a
collision. The car speeding towards him was too close and much too fast. His only option was to
turn into the lane with a sign that read ‘No Entry -Residents only’. It was either a fine or a crash,
and he opted for the former. Turning into the lane he brought the car safely to a halt. Then he
took a moment to steady himself. ‘How the blo*dy hell, do they get their license.’ he
complained. Apart from his one major achievement at work, it had really been one hell of a day.
The station wagon continued on with the driver not even giving a glance in his direction, far to
speak of giving him an apologetic sign. Seconds later he heard a crash as the station wagon hit
the car in front of it. Sanskar no longer questioned the legality of his actions. If he had not taken
that turn it would have been him now involved in that accident.

He turned the key in his car, only to cut the engine off again. He was sure he saw ‘that thing’.
The white Mini stood there mocking him again. It was parked in the driveway of a white cottage,
bordered by a white picket fence. Two Labradors playfully rolled in the grass. The front door of
the house was ajar however the main gate remained shut.

Sanskar could not believe his luck. He decided to thank Swara while he was there. With that
intention in mind he attempted to park the car in the only available spot and walk back to the
house. As he eased the car into the vacant space he saw a man walk out. He judged him to be in
his early forties. Then he saw the gray skirt and the pony- tail.

Swara had followed the man out holding on to the hands of the two children on either side of her.
He recognized them from the photo frame on her desk. At the gate, the children hugged and
kissed the man then waved goodbye. Then the man seemed to be addressing Swara. Moments
later, waving his hands he backed towards his car. The kids yelled ‘We love you daddy’. ‘Ditto you two’ he shouted back.
Sanskar did not open his door. Instead he took in the picture. The man was obviously the father
which would mean that he was Swara’s husband. But if he was her husband why had they not
kissed each other goodbye nor had he included her in the ‘ditto you two’ bit. And then there was
Swara’s own reaction. That zone of seclusion was more definitely prevalent. Unless of course,
they were separated. That would explain why she could put in such long hours at work. But that
then raised another question. Why were the children not with her? One saw courts give custody
to the mothers more often than not. And why did she still wear the wedding ring?
Once the car had driven off he continued to sit a moment longer and debated on whether to go
over – on the one hand Swara might not like the intrusion yet on the other she might appreciate
his attempt to apologise.

Again he looked into the rear view mirror. Swara was looking in his direction. With her glasses
on it was hard to know if she had seen him sitting in the car but that she had seen the car, he was
certain. He was also sure that she had quickened her pace to the front door and guided the kids
back into the house, then quickly shut the door behind her.

Sanskar got out of the car and walked over to the little shopping center. Five minutes later he was
back in his car and turning into the main road drove towards his home. He never went where he
was not wanted. That had been his policy his entire life. He was not going to break it now.
Swara had in fact seen Sanskar’s car. There were not many Ferraris in the area and the two that
were there, were both red ones. The fact that he had parked at least five houses away and that he
had not got out of the car made her incorrectly conclude that he had come to see somebody else
and was waiting for her to go into her home in order to avoid meeting her. She did not blame
him. They really did not have anything to say to each other. Theirs was a working relationship
best left at work. They lived in different worlds and their one attempt at socialising had already
ended in disaster. Swara had learnt to ignore people’s looks and comments. She was living her
life the way she had chosen to live it. But when Sanskar had passed that comment, it had hurt. It
wasn’t anger that had made her drive off the way she did. It was the fear that he would see the
tears that had threatened to fall. It had always been ‘she’, who avoided men. Sanskar was doing
what she had always wanted. Yet for the first time in so many years, she realised there was still a
man who could hurt her. And a person with that power must always be kept at a distance.
Inside she asked the kids if they would like a drink before dinner. One wanted an apple juice, the
other orange. Leaving them in the lounge room she disappeared into the kitchen.
At that moment the doorbell rang. She decided it was one of two persons, Greg or Sanskar. She
peered out of the window but the Ferrari had gone. Relieved she rushed to open the door.
But it wasn’t Greg either. Instead at the door stood their local florist with the biggest bunch of
yellow roses she had ever seen.

“This is for you Swara. The card is attached.” With these words the florist handed over the
flowers. “What luck Swara. You can have my boring boyfriend and I could well do with your
handsome hunk. I don’t know what I liked more, the man or the car.”
Swara could not help smiling. “That was not ‘my’ handsome hunk. That was just my boss. And
you can go for both, the man and the c..car.”

“That was maheshwari? You don’t want to swap jobs do you?” Sara asked trying to be serious.
Swara knew that if it were at all possible, Sara would have happily made the swap. Before
Swara could reply Sara continued, “Oh drats, I better get back. Look at all those people going
into the shop Mr. Smith must have hit the panic button. You know how nervous he gets.” As she
walked away she screamed “See you later. Keep the card. I want to know what it says.”
Swara shut the front door, carried the flowers inside and placed them on the table. Then she read
the card. All it said was “Thank you for the ride and your company. Your help was both, very
timely and was deeply appreciated.” He signed it with just his name – Sanskar maheshwari. She put the
flowers in a vase and placed it on the coffee table. Yellow roses were her favourite flowers.
Sara knew that but she was touched that he had bothered to find out her choice of flowers and
the colour.

With that last thought, her attension was taken up by the kids and it was all systems go until
Sunday night. She took them to the park, to the local theatre, to the library. She cooked and cared
for them. This was her joy and she enjoyed every moment of it. It had been over a year now that
she got to keep the children over alternate weekends. They even had their own rooms decorated
exactly as they wanted it.

Swara had been an only child and when her father died she had inherited a huge share as his
estate. His marriage to his ‘legal’ wife had proved to be issueless. So much heartache had
occurred in the year that followed his death that she sold everything, broke with the past and
moved away. She ultimately settled in Kolkata.

Kolkata was a big cosmopolitan city where if one
wanted to, one could get lost in and not be missed. She had not wanted nosey neighbours who
would stop her for inquisitive chats. Nor over caring ones who would try to match her up with
prospective partners. She had just wanted solitude. She spent almost half of her inheritance on
the purchase of the cottage. It was in one of the more expensive suburbs, popular for its
proximity to the city and its record for safety. And safety was a key issue with her. It had three
bedrooms and a good- sized backyard. There was also a loft style room above. This she had
converted into her studio. Between her dogs, her birds and her fish, her life was complete. But
after a year of hibernation she realised that solitude worked for her soul but her mind was
seeking further fulfillment. So she went to university and got a degree in advertising. So
impressed were her instructors with her talent that when she completed her course, one of her
lecturers lined up her first job. She moved twice to bigger companies until her third job found her
seated beside Ragini.

Swara began to open up to Ragini about a month after meeting her. It took a while for their
friendship to develop because of their different personalities. Ragini wanted a life outside of
work; Swara wanted her work to be her life. It was almost a year before they both accepted the
fact that their friendship would be limited to the time at work. Outside of work, each would live
their own life their own way. By the second year of their friendship they had begun to visit each
other’s homes. As she got more confident in social exchange, she accepted lucky as an extension
of her friendship with Ragini. Now that extension was going to include their baby. She was truly
glad for them, but like Sanskar, she too realised that having a baby meant Ragini would leave.
When Ragini had told her the night before that she was waiting on the confirmation, Swara had
done a lot of soul searching. If Ragini left, and she did not like the person she was appointed to
work with, she would have to leave too.

Finally she worked out what she was going to do. She would set up her own firm, dealing totally
through the internet, emails and chat lines. That way she would not have to meet anyone yet she
could successfully run the business. The loft was her office in waiting.
One other incident had helped her make that decision. Her reaction to Sanskar’s comment and the
pain she had felt. It made her question if she was really as immune to him as she had thought.
Looking at the roses she realised that even after ten years of living in her secure world, Sanskar had
the power to fill it with insecurity. Leaving was the only option for her. The only decision left
now, was when.

Finally she decided that she would leave as soon as Ragini’s replacement had got the hang of
things. Leaving earlier would be letting Ragini down. This was not the time to burden Ragini
with more work. She would also have to come up with an excuse for her resignation. But she had
a goal now and she would have to work towards it. Yet despite her unemotional planning, when
Swara went to bed that night she took the vase of roses into her bedroom.

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  1. awesome. …

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