Sanskar had been in Galodia’s office for over half an hour and Suraj had not said one sentence that
either acknowledged or denied his involvement with Swara. Sanskar had burst into his office much
to the dismay of Galodia’s secretary. Galodia himself seemed more amused.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to come storming into my office.” Galodia said amusement coloring his tone.
“Of course I will bl**dy well storm in. What the hell did you tell Swara last night? I will not
allow you to scare off my employees like that.”
“Employee! My dear man, it’s singular. I am only interested in one employee. As far as scaring
off anyone is concerned. What would I gain by that? We had an innocent dinner. Sanskar you
were there yourself. We had a decent meal, in a public place and in a civilized manner.”
“So why did she resign today?” Sanskar burst back
“Resigned? She gave me no indication of that. In fact I got the impression that INDUSTRIES OF Maheshwari was her life, … and love”. Galodia added hesitantly.
The news however threw Galodia. He mentally went over what Maheshwari had just said. ‘Now
why would she go and do that? This is an interesting development’ he thought to himself.
‘Maheshwari what would you say if I told you I think if anyone is scaring her off, it is you’ he
thought to himself. ‘I think I have correctly guessed what Swara is feeling, now let’s see what is
going on where you are concerned’.
“If you like, I can try and find out the reason. I am having dinner with her tomorrow.”
Galodia asked Sanskar. Having said the lie, Galodia told himself that he had better be able to
convince Swara to go out with him again.
His guess had been right. Once again the ambers flew from Sanskar’s eyes. No, Sanskar certainly did
not like his meeting Swara. And the reason could only be one. Jealousy!
“What for?” Sanskar queried, knowing it was none of his business anyway.
“Because I love Swara and..” Galodia was cut short when Sanskar did not let him complete his
“Love! For heaven’s sake Galodia, you barely know each other.” Sanskar fumed.
“What has time got to do with the kind of love I have for Swara? I loved her from the moment I
saw her. And I am sorry if it displeases you, but now that I have found her, I am not letting her
go. Not for anybody.” Galodia said
“It’s talk like this that has frightened her off. Don’t tell me you have already told her all this rubbish” Sanskar was wild
“That, young man, is none of your business. Swara and my life is not your concern.” Galodia tried to sound as irate as Sanskar.
“Are you making this a fight Galodia?” Sanskar knew he was being insane. He was jeopardizing not only his relationship with Galodia, his commercial dealings with him, but he could also be putting INDUSTRIES OF Maheshwari on the line. And for whom? Swara? Hell for all he knew Swara might be
leaving because she did not like working with him.
“We are not fighting for the same thing Maheshwari. I do not want Swara as an employee.”
Galodia stressed on the last word.
“Oh come on Galodia, are you trying to tell me that you really love Swara?”
“Why is that so hard to believe?” Galodia sounded hurt “Swara is a wonderful woman, talented,
“And she has wonderful children.” Sanskar cut it hoping this news would scare Suraj off.
“That would make no difference to my feelings for Swara.” Suraj cool reply irritated Sanskar
This was not the reaction that Sanskar had hoped for. When his ploy did not work, he told himself,
‘if I could fall in love with her knowing about them, why shouldn’t Suraj?’
“Suraj you barely know her. What less than a week, how can what you feel be love? You
admitted to being lonely. I can understand your wanting a companion, but Swara is not like other
women. She is not one who will just walk a few steps and leave.”
“Sanskar, if I can help it, Swara will never leave. I have asked her to move into my home. It’s too
big for one old man.”
“I don’t know what sort of game you are playing Galodia, but Swara better not get hurt.”
Maheshwari’s rage was almost uncontrollable. Swara, move into Galodia’s home? Galodia comfort
her during her nightmares. No he could not bear the thought of that. Swara belonged by his side,
in his arms, as his wife. Wife! Did he just think of her as his wife?
He smirked at the contradiction in his own remark about knowing Swara for less than a week.
Didn’t he know from experience, a day was all he had needed to fall in love with her himself.
‘Swara, why can’t you feel the same way about me, as I feel about you, he screamed within
himself. ‘Galodia is all wrong for you’.
“Maheshwari, explain this. Why are you worrying about Swara getting hurt, when Pari should be
your concern at the moment?” Galodia watched closely for Sanskar’s reaction.
“What has Pari got to do with any of this?” Sanskar exploded.
“If I was having a dinner with a lady, so were you” Suraj continued
“Pari is an old friend, though why I have to explain that to you is beyond me. My relationships
are none of your concern.”
“Well said, Maheshwari. My sentiments exactly.” Galodia hit back
“Except that Swara is my employee and you are my client” Sanskar put forward his justification
“Soon to be ex-employee, and if you ask it of me, I can terminate our contract too.” Galodia
knew their game of words was now heading towards dangerous grounds.
“Let’s just put it this way, Galodia, if Swara goes, as far as I am concerned, so do you.”
Sanskar no longer cared if the Galodia account was lost. If Swara went with Galodia, he did not
want to meet Galodia ever again.
Sanskar walked out of Galodia’s office, without a nod. Just then his mobile phone rang. Ragini was
waiting in his office for the meeting. He needed sometime alone. He had come to ask Galodia to
leave Swara alone for a while, instead had ended up party to a caveman approach to a simple
matter. He should have enforced his unwritten rule, ‘no socialising between employee and
clients’. It was too late to enforce that rule now. Swara would leave even sooner, if he took that
step. No, he would have to ensure, he inundated her with so much work, that dinner dates would
be out of question while she was employed at INDUSTRIES OF Maheshwari.
He drove around for a while then stopped and had a Cappuccino at the local café. After that he
head back to work. When he reached, it was 3 pm. He had missed two important meetings, he
had missed lunch and he had missed Swara. She had gone home early complaining of a headache.
So much for keeping her back with extra work he thought before turning his attention to the
messages on his desk.
He called Ragini in at 4 pm and asked her to bring in all her files. Then with her he went through
each and every one, and transferred almost all of them to Swara. He told Ragini he wanted her to
take it easy.
“But Sanskar, with Swara leaving, wouldn’t you be better off transferring her files to me, instead of
the other way around?” Ragini was surprised by his move
“No I intend to recruit new staff for that section. I want you to concentrate on training and
helping them. With three on the team we won’t face this problem ever again. And Ragini, let me
know what you decide about returning to work. Your place will be secure, no matter how many
people we finally recruit.”
“Thanks Sanskar. I have to admit, I hate the thought of giving up the work I love. Can I take
another couple of days to decide?” Ragini was elated that Sanskar valued her so much.
“Take all the time you want” Sanskar said. A minute’s silence followed then Sanskar spoke again.
“Ragini, do you have any idea why Swara decided to leave?” Sanskar knew that if anyone knew the
real reason it would be Ragini.
“No Sanskar I don’t, but I for one am not going to believe the reason she gave. There is something
that is worrying me. Swara was tied up this afternoon and Galodia left seven messages for her in
about half an hour. Maybe she is leaving the company, so that she can pursue her relationship
with him, or maybe she is running because of him.” Ragini thought out aloud.
Then she looked at Sanskar and wished that she had not said a word. His eyes burnt with amber
flecks that made his look almost fierce. His hand was clenched in a ball with the knuckles
shining white. Lately Sanskar was exhibiting a lot more emotions that he ever had in the past. He
was known for his cool professionalism. Nothing had ever frazzled him in the past. Cool was not
the word that would apply to him at this moment.
“In either case, I am the one who will lose her.” Ragini somehow knew he was no longer talking
of Swara as an employee. She had to have that chat with Swara. I must be crazy; I have to be
crazy to even think it. But could it be possible? Was it possible that Sanskar was in love with
Swara himself? She would have to watch the two of them more closely but this evening she
would grill Swara till she had her answers. All of them!
Ragini could not wait until 5 pm. She took the files she wanted to work on at home and drove to
Swara’s place, stopping to pick up Pizza for the two of them.
At 5.30 pm she was ringing the doorbell and happily welcomed by the barking dogs. Swara had a
pressure band around her forehead. ‘So at least the headache was real’ she reflected.
“I thought I would bring dinner. Laksh is working back tonight, and I could not face dinner
alone, but if your headache is bad, I’ll go” Ragini felt guilty now that she was here.
“No don’t go, I am glad you came. The pizza smells lovely. Let’s eat it while it is hot.”
Swara said as she moved indoors.
Ragini got the drinks while Swara laid the table. They ate in silence until their first slice had
disappeared from their plates. Ragini took another piece but Swara refused to have another slice.
“You are eating for two, so don’t look guilty. Enjoy it,” she told Ragini
Then Swara laughed when Ragini looked at a third slice. “Maybe you are eating for three” she
“Heaven forbid.” laughed Ragini, then sobering down she continued. “For someone who loves
Italian food, you didn’t have much.”
Swara looked straight into Ragini eyes and said “Ragini, was that comment going somewhere?”
Ragini did not bother to beat around the bush any longer.
“Swara, you know the office grapevine. What’s this about you seeing someone?”
“Seeing someone, who?” Swara was intrigued
“Galodia of course! He has made his interest in you apparent. And you have gone out with him
too.” Ragini was direct
“Ragini have you gone mad. Suraj is a very nice person and I like him a lot, but there is no such
thing between us. He is lonely after his daughter’s death. He is looking for that daughter in me.
And besides, he is Sanskar’s client. I would never do that to Sanskar.” Swara replied surprised by
Ragini’s words. And then she pursued another line of thought. “Ragini, who else thinks this?
Don’t tell me the whole office believes this gossip?”
The look on Ragini’s face told her that she had guessed correctly.
“Oh no Ragini, what is Sanskar going to say? What’s Suraj going to think? Oh shivers, what will
this do to their dealings. I better clear this up.” Swara mumbled.
“I should never let men enter my life. It always ends up in a mess,” Swara continued in a whisper.
“Swara if Galodia is not the reason you are leaving, what is? Don’t give me the bit about
meetings etc. You know Sanskar would work things around so that you will not be in this situation
again”. Ragini continued.
While Swara thought of an answer, Ragini found another piece to fit into the puzzle. Only this
morning, Sanskar had spoken of having at least three staff in the department. Sanskar was working
the situation around so that ‘Swara’ would not be in this situation again.
Galodia may love you Swara, but it’s Sanskar, who is in love with you. Now I have to know what
you really feel about Sanskar. Thank God you are not in love with Galodia. That’s one less
complication to sort out.
She told Swara about Sanskar’s plans for the department, but Swara remained expressionless. “With
three staff, you won’t need to worry about presentations. Won’t you think again about your
“No, Ragini I have to leave.” Swara remained adamant.
“What will you do? Find another job?” Ragini questioned
“No I am going to start my own business. I can work from home. Use the internet. That way I
won’t have to have contact, and yet be able to run my business successfully.”
Ragini admitted the idea was brilliant and suited Swara’s situation, solving all her problems.
“Why don’t you talk to Sanskar, maybe he can set the same thing up for you there” Ragini added
“No! Please Ragini, don’t say a word to anybody yet. Please.” Swara implored
“Alright, I won’t say anything. I do feel a bit guilty though” Ragini continued
“Why should you feel guilty?”
“Well if I had not been unwell, you would not have had to attend the meetings and today you
would not have resigned.”
“Ragini, my leaving has nothing to do with you. I promise”
“Then who does it have to do with, Swara? Sanskar?” Ragini already knew the answer
“Ragini let’s talk about something else.” Swara implored
“Swara how far will you keep running? Maybe it’s time to stop. The past can no longer hurt you.
But if you run now your present will.”
Swara was silent a moment then smiling said “Aren’t pregnant women supposed to have memory
losses or something?”
That was the cue that ‘Swara’ was no longer a subject for their conversation. Well! Thought
Ragini, if you close that topic, let’s open another.
“I heard you dined at the same restaurant as Sanskar and Pari. What’s she like? Everyone one
says, drop dead gorgeous.” Ragini said the words, while closely observing Swara’s face
“Very beautiful” was the answer she got.
“Was it just the two of them or were they dining with others?” Ragini pursued
“Why the sudden interest in Pari?” Swara asked
“It’s not sudden. It’s just that you are the only one who has really seen her. Did Sanskar introduce
her to you both?”
“Yes, as they were leaving. Ragini she really seemed quite nice. But we really did not have a
chance to talk much.”
“Come on Swara, if Sanskar was dating a beautiful woman at a table for two, surely there would be
more to tell”
“You are a hopeless romantic, that’s your problem. Why don’t you ask Sanskar? He is a good
friend of yours, not mine” Swara averted the question
“Well actually that is the reason I am asking all these questions. I don’t want some money
hungry woman catching him. He deserves better.” Ragini went on
“Then he has got better. Pari seems a lovely person and if I were you, I would not question
Pari’s motives or feelings, now that she is his fiancée. It won’t do your friendship any good.”
“His fiancé! Who told you that? Galodia?” Ragini was sure this was Galodia’s doing.
“No. She was wearing an engagement ring, they were holding hands, and they left together.”
Ragini needed time to absorb this. If Sanskar was engaged to Pari, then why had he not
mentioned it to her? If he had promised himself to someone else, why then was he upset about
Swara’s involvement with Galodia? Nothing made sense anymore. Maybe what some people
said was true. Pregnancy made you more stupid.
Just then the doorbell rang. Swara rushed to the front door. The dogs gave a knowing bark. A
minute later Galodia walked in.
‘Come in Galodia, you might as well add to my confusion’ thought Ragini
“Hi Ragini, I hope I am not interrupting anything?” Galodia asked
“Not at all, I was just checking on Swara.” Ragini answered
“Yes, that’s why I have come as well. I rang your work and was told that you had gone home
sick. I hope it was not last night’s dinner?”
“ The d..dinner was lovely. This is just a headache.” said Swara
“Maheshwari said you have resigned. Is that true?” once again Galodia was direct in his questioning.
“When did you talk to Sanskar?” it was Ragini who asked the question
“This morning, when he accused me of scaring Swara off.” again he was direct
“He did what?” once again it was Ragini. So that explains Sanskar’s foul mood when she rang him
about their 11 O’clock meeting.
“That pup has the nerve. He was out with a stunner of a model, and he has the gall to object to
my dinner with Swara.” Galodia was talking to Ragini but constantly glancing at Swara as if
gauging her reaction.
Swara was silent.
“I don’t blame you for leaving. He is the most arrogant, selfish man I have ever come across. I
don’t know how you both put up with him.” Galodia rambled on
Ragini could feel the seeds of dislike rising against Galodia. How dare he walk in here and put
“Suraj, I am sorry, but I think it is really all my fault. I timed it badly, with Ragini’s situation, the
extra workload; all Sanskar needed was my resignation to push things over the edge. I should have
waited. I can see that now. I will explain the situation to Sanskar tomorrow.” Swara tried to defend
“Suraj, it’s unfair to say the horrid things you just did about Sanskar. He is the most wonderful boss
one can hope for. If our situations were not what they were, we would never leave T & G
Maheshwari.” Ragini said sternly
“Your reason is your pregnancy and the baby. I can understand that. But Swara has no such
reason to give. She has cleared me from being the cause. So that leaves Maheshwari”.
“I am right, am I not Swara? I am not the cause for your flight Swara, he is? You can’t stand
working for the man. And if his behavior this morning is anything to go by, I don’t blame you
“Suraj, I am leaving for my own reasons. None of you are responsible for that decision. And you
are wrong about Sanskar. I had never been happier than during the past five years working for T &
G Maheshwari.” Swara felt compelled to clear Sanskar. Why, she asked herself was she doing that,
when the truth in fact was that, Sanskar was the reason she was running. But she was not running
away from him, rather, because of him.
Ragini by now was very upset with Galodia. How dare he come in and slander Sanskar’s good
name. If this had been her home, Suraj would have been out of the door by now. She was
annoyed with Swara for not taking that stand.
“Well my personal opinion is that Maheshwari wants to spend more time with that Pari, and your
er.. situation and Swara’s resignation, is going to force him to spend more time at work instead of
with her, and that is what is really annoying him, not that I really blame him for that either. She
was a stunner, wasn’t she Swara?” Galodia said watching Swara closely.
Both Ragini and Galodia saw the effect the conversation was having on Swara. She was hurting
so much that Galodia wanted to rush and console her, tell her that he was joking, but he had
come very close to breaking through the barrier, and he forced himself to continue with the cruel
At first Ragini had been so angry at the callous statements that she almost told Suraj to get out. It
was when she saw Galodia take a step towards Swara to wipe away her pain, then saw him stop
himself, that Ragini realized what was happening.
Like her, Galodia suspected, that Swara was not as unaffected by Maheshwari as she pretended to be.
In fact, if Galodia pushed just a little more, Swara would break. Her pain was almost unbearable
“Well, it will do him good to have his little comfortable world turned upside down. You are
leaving, Ragini will leave shortly and I told him this morning that I was taking my business
elsewhere. Oh I know, one account will not break INDUSTRIES OF Maheshwari, but if I pass the word around
that Maheshwari’s best, have left him, I am quite sure, a major dent will be felt by his firm.”
“That’s enough Mr. Galodia.” Swara was now shaking in anger. “How dare you come and
pretend to be a friend to us and then do this. If I had known how horrible you really are, I would
never have paid attention to your words. I thought you were a nice man, who was lonely and
missed his daughter. Instead you prove to be this ..this ruthless person. I don’t want to know you.
Please leave at once” she cried distressed
“Well that’s a strange one. You desert the ship and accuse me of sinking it. If everything that I
have said is wrong, then tell me why are you leaving?”
“It’s none of your business” Swara’s voice was hurting even her own ears
“It is very much my business. I have been accused, by the great Sanskar Maheshwari himself, of
deliberately trying to scare his staff away” Galodia hated what he was doing, but he had to go
on. Act 1 Scene 3 depended on it.
“I said I would clear that up.” Swara was short
“How? By running away and justifying his accusations” Galodia sounded angry
“Look Swara, we both hate the man…”Galodia continued
“I don’t hate him. For heavens sake Suraj, I have no cause to do that….” Swara could not
complete the sentence for Galodia cut in.
“The blow that hurts the most is the one that is hit when the opponent is at his weakest. You
Swara dear are giving him that blow, not me. Only hate can make someone do that. Only hate can
make you walk away from someone the way you are walking away from Maheshwari.”
Swara was in tears now.
“Suraj, I think you better leave now. Can’t you see what you are doing to Swara?”
Ragini tried to intervene.
“I thought you were my true friend. That, I was like a daughter to you. You were using me as a
pawn in some sort of sick game of yours. Go Suraj, I never want to see you again.” Swara said
“Swara, please stop, look up, it’s ok, just ignore the man.” Ragini spoke, and then looking at
Galodia said “Mr. Galodia I think it’s time you left.”
“It’s always the same, Ragini, men end up behaving like animals.” her tears flowed on
Ragini looked up, but Galodia had left by the front door. She held Swara for some moments
longer and then said,
“But he was right about one thing wasn’t he, it’s Sanskar you are running from. You really don’t
like him do you?”
“Oh Ragini, if you only knew the truth.”
“Then tell me, help me understand the situation. Swara, tell me, am I right, have I guessed
correctly. Are you in love with Sanskar? That’s it, isn’t it Swara. You are running from yourself.”
Finally Swara broke down. The deluge of tears acted as a balm to her pain. She felt a relief as the
burden of her knowledge was now shared. Finally she decided to tell Ragini everything. But
where was she to start, and more importantly where would she bring in the end.
Ragini waited with abated breath, and then listened to every word. She realized it was time to
bring Swara out of her cocoon, before it was truly too late and Sanskar was lost to Swara. If Sanskar
loved Pari, then the story would end as it was. She was the only one who could find out what
Sanskar truly felt about both these women. And, for that matter, she also had to know what
Galodia really felt. Did he mean what he was saying, or was he acting a part? This sudden
dislike of Sanskar, this wish to hurt him, did not make sense. The two men had got along so well.
Galodia was even giving him new business. The only way she would learn of the truth was if she
met Galodia and Sanskar separately.
“Swara, does Sanskar know how you feel about him?”
“No Ragini, and you won’t tell him either. Ragini promise me, you won’t. Or I will disappear. No
one will ever see me again.”
“Swara, what if he feels the same way?” Ragini pleaded
“Look at me Ragini, then look at Sanskar. Would you wish me on him? Didn’t you say he was a
good friend of yours?”
“And so are you. Gosh Swara, there is nothing wrong with you, except your desire to look
undesirable. Let Sanskar see the real you.”
“Ragini this is the real me. The way I am now. I stutter, I am plain and I hate meeting people. I
have no place in his life, and he would be out of place in mine.”
“Swara, let us just pretend for one minute, that Sanskar might feel the same way…”Ragini started
“Ragini, he can’t feel the same way. You don’t feel love for one woman, and offer marriage to
“This engagement? Why has he not told anyone of it?” Swara asked
“Maybe, he has only just got engaged. Ragini, I saw the ring, I saw them holding hands and the
truth is they make a lovely couple.”
“But..” Ragini again began
“No buts Ragini, you promised. Now I better let you get home or Laksh will never forgive me.”
It was past 10 pm. Laksh would not be worried but he would be anxious. Ragini rang him and
told him that she was on her way. Then bidding goodbye she left. Swara assured her that she
would be fine and refused to go over to Ragini’s place for the night.
Credit to: JANPA