Ragini arrived after lunch. The morning sickness had taken its toll and she was barely able to
drag herself around and raced to the toilets every time someone walked by with coffee or food.
Never the less she remained at work and struggled through the morning. By 2 p.m. she could
barely sit up at her desk. Still she refused to go home knowing what that would do to the three
meetings that were scheduled for that afternoon. At 2.10 p.m. she walked into Sanskar’s office to
discuss the Galodia and Henderson files. Sanskar took one look at her, marched her out of the door
and asked her to head home. Her concern about the meetings was totally ignored. Swara noted
Sanskar’s actions with both pride and dismay. Pride at the concern he showed for the welfare of his

staff, and dismay at what Ragini’s absence would mean for her. Ragini had been sick in the past
as well, but the meetings had always been postponed or Tina from the sales office had stepped
into Ragini’s shoes. Tina unfortunately had resigned so that she could join her husband overseas.
As soon as Ragini left, Swara braced herself for Sanskar’s call. Instead of a message, Sanskar came

himself. He confirmed that he had given Ragini the next couple of days off. In face she was not
to come in until she was feeling a hundred percent. Now Sanskar wanted to familiarise himself
with all the urgent files, so they spent the next hour sitting in a corner and going through each
project. Swara knew every detail of every project. She had anticipated the situation as soon as she

saw Ragini leave and had made detailed notes for Sanskar Swara’s conversation remained limited
to work. Her speech was fluent and her manner professional. Sanskarfound himself listening to the
tone of her voice. He found himself watching her hands as she made notes or amendments. It
was only when he found himself hoping that she would take off those hideous dark glasses that
he brought himself back to reality. Swara was not his type. Hell! If she was not working for his
firm he would never have even given her a second glance. What was happening to him? She had
been working for Maheshwari Industries for all these years and he was used to her, so why had he suddenly become more aware of her and her movements?

While Sanskarfought his thoughts, Swara tried best to ignore her feelings. For five years she had
worked for the company and had watched everyone swoon over Sanskar She even known that
despite giving all of his attention to his company he did continue to socialise and enjoy the
company of women. She was also aware that he met a model on a regular basis, which was every
time she was in town. She had been happy to sit in her little corner and do her work. She told
herself, it was her work that was important not who she worked for. Yet after that short drive in
her car just a few days ago, everything had changed. Her feelings no longer seemed to be under
her control. She remembered the pain she had felt at seeing him rush to leave her both her car
and her company. The cruel remarks others had made in the past had only added to her feeling of
insecurity but had never made her cry. Sanskar’s comments on the other hand had caused her so
much pain. Why had she cried herself to sleep that night? And the palpitation yesterday! She knew Sanskar’s presence had caused it. Fear of the impending meeting had only aggravated it. But
beyond all these feelings was the sense of disappointment that she felt in herself. She wished
dearly that she could take on Ragini’s role. But she knew that she could never manage that. She
never wanted to be the center of attention again. The thought of everyone looking at her,
listening to her, was making her sick in the stomach even now.

“Just the person I’ve been looking for.”
Both Sanskar and Swara looked towards the doorway. They knew who would be standing there for
Suraj’s voice had announced his arrival.
“I didn’t know we had another meeting today.” Sanskar remarked, finding Suraj’s presence strangely irritating.
“Well actually we don’t. I was just passing by and wondered if Ms McKenzie would like to join
me for lunch?” Suraj replied Sanskar but his eyes were focused on Swara
Swara was taken aback. Everyone knew she never socialised outside of work and morover she
had only just met Suraj Galodia that morning. Why would he want to take her out to lunch? She
did not have to think before giving her reply. It was polite, but it was a no.
Sanskarwas pleasantly relieved when she declined, Suraj looked visibly disappointed and Swara
found herself immediately softening the blow.
“Ragini has gone home sick. With the additional workload, I won’t be t..taking a lunch break. It
was nice of you t..to ask Mr Galodia.”

“Please call me Suraj.” he clarified and then continued. “I understand. What about dinner then?”
“I wish I could, but I am taking the kkk..kids to the movies tonight.” she answered quickly.
Both men knew that Swara was lying. No one took their children to movies on a weeknight but
Suraj was astute enough to know that if he insisted, he would jeopardise his relationship with
both, Swara and Sanskar He could see Sanskar getting more annoyed by the minute. ‘I guess he has a
right to be’, he thought. With Ragini away sick he only had Swara to rely on and with her
problem it meant would have to take on a greater load.
“I understand again. Maybe another time then By the way Sanskar, I have asked Wayne Lundy to
contact you about the work I mentioned earlier. Guess it is the wrong time with Ragini sick but they really want Swara to do their job anyway.” Again Suraj spoke to Sanskar yet continued to look at Swara.

“Thanks. Ragini’s is only a short-term problem. We should be fine soon. Thanks for that. I’ll
look forward to his call.” answered. Any other time he would have been really grateful for
the additional business, but in his heart he knew that Swara would not be able to do it on her own,

and Ragini’s problem may not be short term. Laksh had already hinted that some women go
through months of morning sickness. He should have foreseen this problem and had more staff
working in this department. It was after all, the pivot on which his company revolved.
They shook hands and said their goodbyes. After Suraj left Sanskar and Swara got back to work.
Though she continued in the same professional manner he could sense that Swara was now tense.
Neither spoke of Suraj’s invitation but it pricked like a thorn in each of their sides.
After the briefing session, Sanskar went in to the first meeting. With the help of her notes
everything went like clockwork. The second followed in the like manner. It was the third that he
ran into trouble with. The directors questioned everything and wanted the minor changes to be
done straight away. Running in and out of the meetings was neither professional nor appropriate.
This was not how Sanskar worked. He hated doing it to Swara but he had to finally call her into the

meeting. He could tell she was nervous as hell, her hands would not stop shaking, her voice was
almost a whisper and her stutter was worse than ever. He explained the situation with Ragini and
luckily the directors were gentle in their questioning. After the initial horrific moments of spilled
cups, broken nibs, disastrous sketches, Swara seemed to settle down. She listened carefully and
spoke only a few words, but her artwork spoke for her and won the respect and awe of the
directors. Satisfied at the outcome, they left praising Swara’s efforts. They parted shaking hands,

praising her and complimenting him on the good fortune of having such a valuable employee.
For the first time, Sanskar realised that this plain and simple woman, in her old fashioned clothes
and her hooded eyes, had made him very proud. She had made him far prouder than any other
woman in the past. That pride must have been expressed by his eyes, for Swara quickly looked
down and began to collect her things.
“Swara, I am sorry, I just could not avoid calling you in. They wanted too many changes and
asked too many questions. I needed you here.” Sanskar felt compelled to explain his action.
“That’s ok Mr Maheshwari. Things worked out better than I expected. If there is nothing else, I
better get back and complete this.”
“Swara, as we are going to be working together a lot now, maybe calling me Sanskar would be
Swara looked in his direction and smiled. It was the first time that he had actually seen her really

smile at him. ‘It’s a pity she doesn’t use any make up for she could make herself look quite nice’
he thought.
“I will try Sanskar but I find it easier to say Maheshwari.” With that she collected her things and
walked out. She left Sanskar with a smile on his lips.
Sanskar went back to his desk and from the second he sat down, he did not have a moment to
spare. It was phone call after phone call, punctuated by meetings. Swara did not see Sanskarat all
that afternoon but she was aware of his presence more than ever.
At 1 pm Laksh walked passed her desk and left a lunch time pizza on it.
“Laksh, I think you have the wrong desk. I did not ask for one.”
“Sanskar did. He said you were not going to take a lunch break and asked me to drop it off for him
as he was running late for his meeting.”

Swara had the most wonderful sensation in her heart. He cared. And then she remembered his
kindness to Ragini and admonished herself for getting carried away with her fantasy. She
removed her glassed, stretched her legs out and sank her teeth into the cheesy delicacy.
At 5 pm when the phone calls stopped, Sanskar had a quick look at his emails. He worked through
them in order. When he came to the one Swara had sent, he opened it with a strange eagerness,
only to be disappointed with the contents. He told himself he was being foolish. She was just
another employee, possibly a married one. Sanskar had one rule he never broke. He never got
involved with another man’s woman. He decided the email did not warrant a reply. But he could
not help remember the pride he had felt when the directors had praised Swara and her work.
Ragini too had received many compliments but none had given him such gratification. Once
again he told himself it was because he felt sorry for Swara. Then he saw the email thanking him
for the pizza. No he no longer felt sorry for her, his feelings were now very different. Hell! He
even liked the way she had said Sanskar.

He worked on for another couple of hours. At 8 p.m. his phone rang. It was Ragini ringing to
apologise and to ask if things were running smoothly. She had asked Laksh to take some of her
‘non-urgent’ work home and promised to bring them back when she returned. Sanskar reminded
her to take it easy but he was grateful when she insisted on finish some of her tasks at home.
“What’s this I hear about Galodia wanting to take Swara out to lunch?” Ragini asked out of the
“Who told you that?” Sanskar expressed his surprised.
“Laksh. He heard it along the grapevine. Is it true?” Ragini knew the grapevine had a habit of
being the carrier of the truth.
“Yes he did.” Sanskar was short in his reply
“He seems to have developed a sudden interest in Swara. Sanskar just keep an eye on him. He’ll
scare her off, if he goes after her.”

Ragini had said too much and shut up but Sanskaron the other hand was intrigued. “Is that what
happened with the husband?” Sanskarhas asked the question before he could stop himself.
“Look Sanskar, just keep an eye out for her. And don’t force her into attending any meetings. I
have never told you but she suffers from panic attacks. They can get pretty bad.”
“I know about them now. She had one this morning when I asked her to come into the Galodia
meeting. And it’s too late not to call her into meetings. I had to get her to come into the Wallis
one this afternoon as well. She seemed to have coped pretty well.” Sanskarsaid casually
“Blast, I am sorry to do this to both of you. I’ll try and ring her at home again. I tried to ring her
earlier but the work phone has been switched onto the answering machine and so is the one at her
home. Listen, if there is problem don’t hesitate to ring me tomorrow. And Sanskar, I am sorry. I
really mean it. You did not need my problem as well at this busy time.” Ragini expressed the
guilt she had been feeling the whole day.

“Look kiddo, just take care of yourself and that little one inside. We’ll manage. Luckily we could
borrow the two new recruits from sales. For the moment I’ve asked them to assist Swara.” Sanskar
reassured her.
“Thanks, you are wonderful. Laksh and I are very lucky. And keep that Galodia away from my
friend.” Ragini continued
“I am only her boss; get her husband to do that if you are that worried.” Sanskar replied.
“Sanskar, Swara has no husband. She has no one else in this world to protect her, that is, besides the
three of us.” Ragini’s words stunned Sanskar

“But the man and the children?”
“How do you know about them?” Ragini queried
“I was driving past her home and happened to see them together. And she has a photo of the kids
on her desk.” He replied
“Sanskar, she has no husband.” Ragini repeated.
“What about the children? The wedding ring?” he asked
“I’ll tell you everything when I come back. Just keep an eye on things OK.” Ragini pleaded
“You should be thinking of yourself and your kid at this moment. Stop worrying. Swara is a
grown woman and from what I saw of her with Galodia, can look after herself too.”
Ragini was not as sure of the situation as him but she said her goodbye and tried to ring Swara
again, only to meet with the same result

Sanskar could not explain the momentary joy that he felt on finding out that Swara did not have a
husband. But this was soon replaced by the sobering thought of knowing that her loneliness was
probably the reason why she had made her work her life. He could not wait to find out why she
wore a wedding ring and who the children were.

At the end of this thought, he looked at his watch. It was 9 p.m. That explained his gnawing
hunger. He decided to call it a day. Picking up his briefcase, he switched off the lights and
walked out. He took the lift down, bid goodnight to the security man and walked out of the
building. He felt exhausted and decided he would pick up a Chinese take-away on his way home.
He no longer had the energy to prepare a meal for himself. After that he was going to hit the bed.
Getting into the car he began driving out of the car park. It was dark outside but as he took the
bend he spotted ‘that thing’ again. The mini was parked in the car park facing the side entrance.
There was only one other car there and it belonged to their security company.
On impulse he turned the car around and drove back to the entrance. Parking his car beside
Swara’s he took the lift up. The security guard was surprised to see Maheshwari back so soon but
accepted his explanation that he had forgotten his mobile phone. Sanskarprayed that it would not
ring until he was in the lift and out of hearing range for he could feel it lying in the safety of his
coat pocket.

The light was on in Swara’s office. He walked towards it. Swara was standing barefooted packing
her things away. Her weary shoulders arched for relief. Her dark glasses were lying on the table.
He must have made a sound for she reached for the glasses and put them on before turning to
look towards him.
“I thought you were security.” she began. Then she noticed his weariness. He looked drained and
she felt even guiltier. If Ragini had been here, she would have taken over the meetings. She on
the other hand was letting everyone down. “I thought ev..eryone ha..d left.”
“You look tired. You are going to kill yourself if you go on like this. I must get down to
advertising for another person. I should have done it today.” Sanskarsurprised himself with his
reply. He paid his staff well and for that he expected them to complete their task. If that meant
working overtime, then it simply meant that. He knew Ragini and Swara often worked back. It
had never bothered him in the past.
“You look tired yourself, maybe we should advertise for another d…irector.” And then she
Sanskar laughed. This was the first time, Swara has ever joked with him. In his heart, he knew how
true the words were. Tom and he had been good together. Now he was one partner short and with
two times the volume of work. No, three times. Maybe another director was not such a bad idea
after all. But this was a family concern and must always remain a family concern. That was
Tom’s dream. It was his too. And it would be impossible to find someone who had his views and
his goal and more importantly had his vision. But she was right in that they definitely needed
more help.

“Touché! Are you having any problems?” Sanskarasked
“Not really. I was actually jjj..ust about to leave.” With that she slipped her feet into her shoes
and picked up her shoulder bag.
They walked out together and took the elevator down
“Have you eaten yet? I am famished. If you haven’t, would you like to join me?” he asked
Swara thought of lying but just then her tummy growled. ‘Well there goes my excuse’ she
“I have dinner prepared at home. Ttthanks anyway. I am already indebted to you for one meal
Sanskarsmiled. He really looked so tired. Unable to stop herself she said, “You are welcome to
join me if you like. It w..won’t be anything elaborate, just yesterday’s rice and Thai curry and the
company won’t be w..wonderful either.”
Sanskarwas exhausted and just wanted to head home but he knew how difficult that invitation had
been for Swara to make.

“I’d love that if you are sure you have enough.” then before she changed her mind he said. “I’ll
follow you”
They reached her house in fifteen minutes. She parked in the garage and as he could not find
another spot, he parked in her driveway. Once inside, Swara made him a drink, put on a CD and
disappeared into the kitchen refusing his offer to help. In five minutes she had their dinner heated
and served. They talked about work during their meal and he informed her that Ragini had been
trying to contact her. Dinner turned into a relaxed occasion. They were often silent yet neither
felt the need to rush into constant conversation. Sanskarin particular felt peace around him. It was
oddly comforting to know that nothing was expected of him.
After dinner, Swara washed up and then she checked the messages. Ragini had left ten messages
for her. The last one was more of a curse. Swara rang her back, and took a good five minutes to
calm her down. During the entire conversation, Sanskar noticed that Swara had not stuttered once.
Then he heard a frantic note in her voice as she remarked “You told him! Oh Ragini I wish you
hadn’t.” Sanskar knew she was referring to his conversation with Ragini earlier that day.
Swara put down the receiver, paused a moment, and then hesitantly walked toward the lounge
room where she had asked Sanskar to relax.

“Gg Sanskar, about what Ragini told you”…she started.
“Swara the day you want to talk about it you can count on me being there to listen, but let’s not
talk about it now. I can tell you are not ready.”
Swara was relieved. She had not known where to begin. Her loyal glasses once again hid her
worried eyes.
She offered coffee and he accepted. Minutes later she walked in armed with two mugs and a
plate of her favourite mint chocolates. In the lounge room, stretched across the sofa, Sanskar had
fallen fast asleep. So deep a sleep, that even when she placed a pillow beneath his head and
covered him with a quilt, he did not wake.
Swara sat in the chair opposite him and had her coffee. She was free to observe Sanskar. Not a
quick glance, here and there, but really look at him. Suddenly she knew the answer to all her
questions. The palpitation when he was around, her eagerness to hear the sound of his voice, the
reason why she worked so hard. It was him. It had always been him. She hadn’t realised the
feelings she had as love, but she knew now, she loved him with every breath in her body. But
they lived in different worlds. It was not fair to expect him to come down to her world and she
would never be able to reach up to his. She could never bring herself to go out of her secure
universe. The chains of her past were too strongly bound around her to let her do that!
She finished her coffee and went into her room. After she changed, she got into bed. She had
locked the dogs in the guest room for the night just in case Sanskar and the dogs frightened each

She feared that she would not be able to sleep after her mammoth ‘discovery’, but the moment
her head hit the pillow she fell off to sleep. But it was not a dream that she had, it was a
nightmare. It was happening again and she did what she always did. She woke up screaming.
The next minute Sanskar had raced into her room. He switched on the light and found Swara in a
daze. He called out to her several times. Finally she looked up and he stared at a terrorised pair
of cobalt blue eyes. With her hair hanging loose and her pale pink nightie, she looked so young
and so very afraid. He took a step forward but she shrunk further back. “Swara, it’s me. Sanskar. It
is Sanskar.” His words continued to meet a blank dazed look.
Finally Swara seemed to recognise him. A second later, she rushed out of the bed and flew into
his arms. Sanskar held her tightly until her sobbing subsided. Then he led her back to the bed. He
went into the kitchen and got her a glass of water. After she had drunk it, he lay down beside her
and held her until she fell asleep again. He could not get the cobalt blue eyes out of his head. He
had never seen eyes that shade before. They were hypnotic; mesmerising. He looked at her face.
Why would anyone with those magical eyes and such beautiful hair, deliberately make
themselves look so ugly. He gently supported her face against his shoulder and found himself
caressing her soft hair.
Swara’s breathing had settled into a steady pace but still he could not bring himself to let her go.
He scanned her face once again. She really had quite a nice face. Each feature being evenly
placed. Finally his eyes rested on her lips and then his own followed in the path of his eyes. He
thought he felt her respond. But then put it down to his imagination for Swara had gone into
deeper sleep.
Holding her in his arms, Sanskar closed his eyes. His last thought was, “Sanskar Maheshwari, you would

be wise to leave now. Leave before it is too late. You are used to dealing with confident beauties.
You know nothing about Swara or the baggage she has surrounded herself with. Leave before
you can’t. But instead of leaving, he too fell asleep,
still holding her in his arms.

Credit to: JANPA


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