Swara reached home and was received by her babies, barking and jumping around her. She
cuddled them first and then let them out into the back yard. Not feeling like having dinner, she
made herself a cup of tea which she took to the pergola. There she sat and watched her dogs
frolic around. But instead of enjoying the setting as she normally did, all she saw was Sanskar’s
face, heard Sanskar’s voice, felt Sanskar’s arms. She lowered her head into her hand. Swara, you fool,

she told herself. Why have you gone and fallen in love with him? In love! She repeated her
words again. She still was not sure when that had happened. Could she have always felt
something for him? Then why hadn’t she ever felt jealousy before? She had always valued his
appreciation of her work but she never set out to seek his attention. She knew she had been
grateful that he had given her a place in his company, despite her looks and drawbacks. She had
always known about the condition Ragini had made on her behalf too, but Sanskar had only agreed
on seeing her work. She remembered the joy she had felt when she had overheard him refer to
her work as ‘brilliant’. Her work was her one and only concern. No, she told herself. These
feelings will end up giving her more pain. ‘Until you can let go of the past, the future must
remain as you have decreed’ she told herself. She got up and went upstairs. There she looked
around the room. It was perfect. She could set up her little office here. Make it her studio too.
With the help of the internet and the phone, she would not have to meet her clients. Technology
had provided her with the escape from her handicap.

Yes, she thought, it was time to hand in her
resignation. As soon as Ragini was better, she would give Sanskar her notice. Ragini would be
leaving after the baby was born anyway and that would have made things difficult for everyone.
The sooner she herself left, the better. She knew she would always dread the meetings and
presentations. Without Ragini, that task would inevitably fall on her. The precedent had been set.
And she could not do that again for anybody, not Ragini and not even Sanskar.
She was jolted out of her deep thoughts when the doorbell rang and the dogs barked their way to
the front door. She ran down the steps and looked through the keyhole. At first she could not
believe her eyes, then, she debated if she should open the door. Finally pulling the dogs back she
unlocked it.

Suraj Galodia had seen her drive into her garage from the coffee shop across the park. He had
given her a few moments to settle in and then he had walked over. He therefore not only knew
that she was in, but also that Swara had been at the door debating whether to open it or not. He
prayed that she would. He was thrilled when his prayers were answered.
“I was wondering if you would join me for dinner. I would have rung you during the day, but I
feared you might invent another excuse.” Suraj was gentle but direct
“I aaa”, Swara wished Galodia would leave her alone. She liked him as a person but she did not
want the attention he was giving.

“Swara, please, it’s going to be a very innocent meal.” Galodia found himself clearing any
doubts but the way she stood blocking the doorway, told him clearly that she did not believe him.
“For heaven’s sake, Swara, you are much younger than what even my daughter would have been.
I am not into cradle snatching. Gosh child, I am 64 years old. I only want your friendship,
nothing more, and I swear it.”
Swara, absorbed what he said, then asked “Why me Suraj? I don’t talk much, I don’t like going
out and I have no r.real interest outside of my work. It all adds up to rotten company”
“The truth?” he asked raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, only the truth” she replied.

“When I saw you having your panic attack, something about the way you looked, the way you
spoke, reminded me of my daughter. I lost her a long time ago, but seeing you, was like seeing
my dead child again. We parted on bad terms. Maybe I am hoping our friendship will ease the
guilt and loss I feel. Give me some sort of comfort”
Swara too had lost so much. She was an orphan in every sense of the word now. Those were the
unfortunate cards that destiny had dealt her. And to complete destiny’s pack she had herself dealt
the ace card, by secluding herself from everyone. Ragini was the only friend she had allowed
herself. Then she had let Sanskar into her car and since then her life was turning upside down. She
was not sure if she wanted Suraj entering her home and creating more chaos.
She was about to refuse, when she saw his eyes tear up again. “Swara, one dinner and after that if
you don’t want to socialise, I promise, no more meetings outside of work.” Suraj implored.
Swara relented. She let the door open fully. Her dogs gave Suraj a friendly reception, and then
they walked into the lounge. She offered to make something at home, but he insisted on taking
her out. “You are tired, and this was an invitation to go out. If there is a next time, you can be the
hostess.” he promised

Swara gave the dogs their food, locked the back door and pulled the strap of her handbag over her
shoulder. It was Suraj’s suggestion that they drive in his car to save themselves from the problem
of finding two parking spots and they did just that. Suraj noted that even now, she had not
bothered to put any make up on or change herself out of her drab outfit. But it did not bother
him at all. He was just glad that she had agreed to go out with him.
They drove to a quaint little Italian restaurant by the harbour. As soon as Swara stepped into the
foyer, she regretted her decision to come. She not only looked out of place, she felt it too.
Everyone was dressed in glamorous clothes. The women looked beautiful while the men with
them looked elegant. Several diners sitting at the first few tables were openly staring at her. She
could sense some were looking down their noses at her and as soon as they saw her partner, the
frowns would crease up their foreheads. Swara knew what they were thinking. What the hell was
Suraj Galodia doing with a ‘nobody’ like her? She felt her eyes prick with tears. Then she felt
Suraj’s supporting hand upon her elbow as he led her to the table. As they passed, she noticed
everyone turn and look at her, then the whispering would start. ‘I should never have agreed to
come.’ she said angrily to herself.
Suraj too realised what was happening. He spoke to the waiter and got his table changed to the
level above. Few liked to sit up there for it was secluded from the other patrons and defeated the
purpose of being seen. After spending hours on their make up and dollars on their attire, the last
thing the women wanted was to be hidden from their peers.

As he had expected, all the tables were empty giving him the liberty to pick the one he wanted.
Once upstairs he saw that Swara had begun to relax. In ten minutes he had extracted a smile. He
kept to the safest topic and discussed her work and qualifications. She stuttered through her
answers, but when she began asking questions as well, he knew the worst was over for both of
them. He chose the main dishes as he had firsthand knowledge of every dish. Since his wife left
him, this restaurant had become like a second home.
As the meal progressed and no other patron came up, Swara totally relaxed. What she did not
know was that Suraj had organised it with the waiter so that it would remain so. Wealth and fame
had their honourable uses too.
They enjoyed their delicious meal and occasionally Swara was brave enough to look down
towards the other patrons. It was a pretty restaurant, where apart from her, every other woman
was as lovely as the surrounding. Then she told herself not to be silly. She was lucky to look the
way she did. Lucky and safe! At this moment in time, she was quite happy. And she had Suraj to
thank. Without his invitation, she would have been at home, thinking of Sanskar. ‘Stop it Swara,
stop it, there you go again’ she scolded herself ‘Sanskar belongs to another world and its best they
stay far away from each other’.
But Sanskar was really not that far. And worse still, he had seen her enter with Galodia. Seated at
one of the corner tables, he was deeply engaged in his conversation with Pari. She had rung
him at 5 p.m. just after her flight landed at Mascot airport. He had sensed the tension. She
seemed nervous and elated at the same time. And he had been curious to find out what was
behind the urgency. Now he knew. She had just asked him how he truly felt about the news. He
had been about to tell her that he was thrilled, when he felt a strange pull, making him look up
towards the entrance. There he saw Galodia and with him, Swara.
At first he could not believe his eyes. He looked away and then looked back. Swara was
definitely there, as was Suraj. He picked up on Swara’s nervousness and noticed the reaction the
other patrons were giving her. A couple of insensitive remarks almost made him rush over to her
side. Then he saw Galodia come to her rescue with a reassuring hand on her elbow. He watched
them move in one direction, then retreat their steps and walk up the stairs. ‘How the hell had
Galodia got Swara to come’, he thought. ‘God help him if he used his connections with Maheshwari Industries to force her into coming with him.’

Pari was waiting for Sanskar’s answer when she noticed that his attention has been transferred to
the couple who had just entered. She looked at Swara, then at Galodia. Sanskar must know
Galodia, she thought. But Sanskar’s eyes had softened as they rested on the woman, and then
hardened as they transferred to the man. When he transferred his look back to the lady, his
expression became unfathomable, almost cold. This was a new side to Sanskar that she was seeing.
“Are you OK Sanskar?” her voice broke through his thoughts “Who are they?”
“He is a client of mine. I am sorry Pari it’s been a hard day. What were we saying?” Sanskar
asked, but Pari realised he had not waited for her answer. Once again Sanskar had returned his
attention to the couple.
Sanskar looked up several times. He saw Swara deep in conversation with Galodia. He no longer
asked himself as to that bothered him. He knew. But he also knew that Swara felt nothing for
him. He tried to concentrate on Pari but found it impossible. His eyes kept drifting to
Galodia’s table, and Pari found her own eyes following his.

She also noticed that he had become considerably quieter. Nor was he listening to a word she
was saying. But she had come a long way to find out his reaction. And she had to find that out
this evening. She was flying back on the midnight flight.
“If there is anyone else at this table, can they please respond” she tried once more
“Pari I am sorry. You have just given me such wonderful news and instead of expressing my
happiness, I have got lost in my work again. I am thrilled, overjoyed is the word.” Sanskar was
truly apologetic.
Pari was relieved by his words. She reached out and covered his hand with hers. “Thank you, I
was so worried, on account of the past.” she said.
It had to be that just at that precise moment, Swara looked up. She recognised the lady as the
woman who had arrived in the taxi. So this was the model everyone was talking about. She took
in the scene, the two were very comfortable with each other and Pari’s hand was covering
Sanskar’s. There she saw the ring. A diamond solitaire that shined so brightly, that seated far away

it still shone in her eyes.
Galodia too had noticed Sanskar and his companion. But it was Swara’s reaction that intrigued him
more. The way, her shoulders had suddenly slumped. The way sadness had encircled her as soon
as she had sighted them.
“Swara?” he asked with concern. “Is something wrong?” Swara looked down at her plate.
“It’s nothing. I seem to have a headache. The food was lovely but would you mind if we left.”
she pleaded
“Not if that is what you really want to do. But Swara, one must never run from a battle, and one
must always fight for love.” he replied with concern.
Swara was surprised by his comment. Could Galodia know how she felt? How could he, when
even she was not sure herself?
Turing to the couple she saw that Sanskar and his companion had risen to leave. As they walked
past, Sanskar looked up. His eyes were expressionless but Galodia was sure that when they rested
on him, those eyes were icy cold. ‘That’s interesting’, he thought. On impulse he waved to
Sanskar. He knew Sanskar would acknowledge his salute and Sanskar did that. Then, Sanskar led Pari
to where Suraj and Swara were seated.
Swara’s heart began thumping again. ‘Why couldn’t Galodia have let them just go past?’, she

“Suraj, Swara” Sanskar shook hands with Galodia, and nodded to Swara. “This is Pari O’Neil.”
Then looking at Pari he said, “This is Suraj Galodia, a client and ‘friend’ of mine. I’d like you
to also meet Swara. Swara works in the advertising department.”
Galodia did not miss the stress on the word friend. So Sanskar was definitely upset, but why?
Either he did not like seeing an employee dining with a client. Or could it be that there was more
to Sanskar’s feeling for Swara? Both reasons would explain the cold look and the anger. But which
reason was the truer one.

While the men exchanged their looks, the women greeted each other. Looking at Pari, Swara
understood why everyone called her stunning. She could also see why Sanskar had fallen in love
with her. And she also knew she could never follow Galodia’s advice. This was one battle
where, even if she never ran, she could never win. Any kind of competition should be between
‘like versus like’. Any other scenario would give one side ‘unfair advantage’. And that side
would never be her. The strange part was that she had instantly liked Pari. There was
something genuine about her. That was the word, genuine. She was a model, but untouched by
the vanity and snobbishness ‘that’ career produced. She looked at her hand. There was definitely
an engagement ring there. She was once again glad that she had her dark glasses on.
Galodia took in all the exchanges. Sanskar was visibly upset. And his anger was directed at him.
He had already explained his situation to Sanskar. Surely Sanskar did not think he was interested in

Swara in a romantic way. And then he kicked himself. He maybe 64 years old, but he knew a
couple of things about life that these kids had yet to learn. One was that you should never leave
your feelings unexpressed, for sometimes it could end up being too late.
And if his guess were right, then he would have to ensure that Sanskar’s feelings were exposed
sooner than later. But how was he going to go about it? He did not want anyone to be hurt, but
there were too many hearts playing the game that was made for only two.
Soon after Sanskar and Pari left the restaurant Galodia took Swara home. At the entrance, he
carefully manoeuvred the situation so that he had invited himself in for coffee. Even though there
were several vacant parking spots along the kerbside, he parked in the driveway. He told himself
that if his guess was right then the black Ferrari would drive by. Since Sanskar knew what his car
looked like, it would be wise to park it where it would be most visible.
They had their coffee. He looked at the watch. It was ten o’clock when he heard the roar of a car.
Under the pretext of checking on his car, he opened the front door and walked out. The dogs
escaped and Swara came running out to control them. Yes, thought Galodia, it was a black
Ferrari all right. It was time for Act 1 Scene 1.

“Suraj, I am sorry for spoiling the evening. It was really a beautiful restaurant. And I loved the
food.” Swara was still feeling guilty for leaving the restaurant without having their desert and
“I am glad you came. Listen Swara, I have many friends, but I am just as lonely as you. We both
need family. If you will allow me, I would love to be that for you. And it would give me great
happiness, if you will be mine.” Again Swara saw his eyes glisten with unshed tears. He had
meant to act a scene, but found himself, living the moment.
Her own eyes were filled with tears, but she could not control them as he had. As the tears fell,
Galodia put a protective arm around her. ‘Thank you God for giving me a second chance’ he
sent up a grateful look.
Sanskar could no longer bear the scene. He started his engine and drove away. Galodia smiled. My
guess was right. Act 1 Scene 2 will follow tomorrow. As the car went out of sight, he too said
goodbye and drove off himself.

Swara had promised him that she would go to bed immediately, but sleep would not come. She
kept seeing Sanskar and the engagement ring. She told herself again and again, that she was being
very foolish. Sanskar was not hers, she had no claims on him and she should never have ventured
where there was nothing to gain.

At 2 am in the morning, she wrote what the outcome should be. It was time for her to leave Maheshwari Industries. Tomorrow she would hand in her resignation to be effective as soon as they found a
replacement. And then she would start her business from home, away from everyone, especially

Credit to: JANPA

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  1. nice..:)

  2. ooooh jealouss sanskaar luvin it nd galodia iluv u man hw caring nd understanding u re ..lastly i do wonder reason of such scarce comments ..i must say janpa u hav wunderful writing skills

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