Sanskar flew out on the 9 am flight to Melbourne. He hadn’t slept at all the night before. Swara
dominated his thoughts every waking moment. And even now, instead of going over his notes
during the flight, he found himself thinking about Swara, trying to comprehend the situation that
existed. Surely by now Swara knew how he felt about her. Hadn’t he given enough hints, didn’t
she realize that he was not the kind of man to play around with women’s feelings? He knew
people had the perception that he was involved in one affair after another. But that was far from
the truth. The reality was that it had been well over four years since he had any kind of serious
relationship with anyone. Suddenly things appeared clearer to him. Had Swara been the reason?
He had told himself that his work had been the most important thing for him. But here he was
prepared to throw away a quarter of a million dollars. He was prepared to change the entire set
up of his company. Hell, he did not even want to attend this presentation. All he wanted to do
was be back to Sydney. Just see her once more. He knew it was time to talk to Ragini. She was
already close to guessing the truth about his feeling anyway.
At 11.30 am he was standing near the overhead projector. For the first time in his life, he had a
hard time concentrating. Every time cobalt blue came up on the screen, he saw Swara’s eyes.
Grey, reminded him of her clothes. Yellow took him back to her room. He was glad when the
lunch break was called. The first thing he did was to ring Swara, on the pretext that he wanted to
speak to Ragini about her afternoon meeting. Swara was as polite as she was with everyone,
quickly transferring him to Ragini’s line. He was disappointed when she had not even asked him
about his presentation.
Ragini on the other hand showed she was glad to hear from him. She assured him that everything
was under control. When he asked if he could speak to her on his return, Ragini invited him for
dinner, and asked him to drive straight from the airport to their place.
As Ragini spoke to Sanskar, her eyes were focused on Swara. She had been worrying about Swara
from the moment she had walked into the office. For one thing she was very quiet. For another,
she had dark circles under her eyes. She refused to take any kind of break despite having started
work at 6.30 am. Not even stopping for lunch.
And now there was sadness in her eyes. Swara appeared to be concentrating on her work, but
Ragini knew she was listening to every word Ragini was saying. Her hand had not moved during
the entire phone conversation.
After Ragini hung up, she invited Swara as well. She said it would complete the table and they
could discuss the problematic files over dinner. Swara excused herself. She said she wanted an
early night, as the headache had kept her awake the night before. She did look tired and Ragini
did not force her to go. What Swara did not tell Ragini was that she had already asked Galodia to
meet her after work. She intended to sort things out with him. She had to find out why he had
lied to Sanskar.
The rest of the day was again a busy one. Laksh dropped in a couple to times to check on Ragini.
Even he remarked on how ill Swara looked. Then he told them of his conversation with Sanskar
about the Lundy file. “Sanskar must be going mad. Galodia put Lundy on to us. And just when it
looked like Lundy was ready to discuss details, Sanskar has asked me to pull the plug on the
negotiations. This Galodia-Maheshwari rivalry is going to cost Sanskar heaps.” Both Ragini and Laksh
kept glancing at Swara to see the reaction. While they could see her tense up, she did not
contribute in any way to the conversation. All three knew the situation was getting well and truly
out of hand.
At five, Laksh came to collect Ragini. They once again asked Swara if she would like to join
them. Again she refused their invitation, asking them to enjoy themselves. After they left, Swara
finally let down her guard. Her hands covered her face as the tears fell freely.
Swara was meeting Galodia at 6.30 pm at ‘Pancakes abound’. She had always loved the
pancakes there, but for the first time, she was not in a mood to eat them. She would have asked
Galodia to come to her home, but a public place allowed her the freedom to walk away if things
She left work at six, went home, fed the dogs, and was at the restaurant at 6.30 pm. Galodia was
already seated at a table. He rose as she walked to it. This time she just nodded to him. After they
had given their order and the drinks had been placed in front of them, Galodia spoke first
“I am glad you rang, I was thinking of doing the same. I wanted to apologise for my words the
other day. I was angry with Maheshwari and his accusations. I want you to know that I would not
hurt him or his business.”
“I am glad to hear that. I am leaving the company soon. I honestly don’t want your relationship
with each other to be affected in any way because of me.” Swara was honest
“It won’t be. I was hoping we could be friends too.” Galodia asked
“Suraj, I can only offer ‘friendship’ and I only want ‘friendship’ in return. Nothing more.” Swara
was still angry with him for the things he had said about Sanskar but found that she could not bring
herself to dislike the man. She had come with the intent to telling him that she never wanted to
see him again. But found that she could not do that either. So she hoped he would understand
what she was trying to convey. He had.
“I have, only ever wanted that myself.” he said
“And you won’t ask me to move into your home?” that should clear up the air without having to
ask why he lied, she thought
Galodia looked down for a moment then said, “He told you”
“Suraj, did you really lose a daughter?” she asked immediately. She wondered if he had lied to
her about that too, to win her sympathy.
“Swara, my child, I would not lie about that. Yes I lost my daughter. And yes, I looked for that
daughter in you. I am still doing that Swara. I will never stop doing that. I am sorry about telling
Sanskar before I spoke to you. I realize now, that I should have asked you first. I intended to. I am
an old man now and the house is much too big for just one person”
“I can’t Suraj. I have a home and I have my dogs. Besides ..” she started then changed her mind.
There was no point in saying that such a move would only make Sanskar more upset.
Just then Galodia saw Ragini enter with Sanskar and Laksh on either side of her. He crossed his
fingers and hoped that their plan was going to work. If Ragini had her own way, it definitely
would. He noticed Ragini direct Sanskar into the chair that directly faced them. That meant Ragini
had seen them on entering the restaurant. Once their drinks arrived, he noticed the three get
deeply involved in their conversation, to the point that Maheshwari had not once raised his eyes in
their direction. ‘Come on Ragini, get him to look in our direction. That was the plan, remember!’
At Galodia’s table he asked Swara about her future plans. Between sentences he gave a quick
glance towards Ragini’s table. He looked at Sanskar. Sanskar looked grave. He wondered what it was
that Ragini had just told him
If he could have overheard Ragini, he would have heard her say, “Sanskar a couple of days ago, I
thought Swara’s leaving had something to do with Galodia’s interest in her. I now believe
differently. I think you are the reason she is leaving.”
“Me! In what way? What has she told you?” Sanskar was stunned by Ragini’s comments. Did
Swara dislike him that much?
“Sanskar how do you really feel about Swara?”
“Who is asking, her colleague or her friend?” Sanskar questioned her in return
“I guess both. As her colleague, I want to know why you accepted her resignation. And as her
friend I’d like to know why you are letting her go?” Ragini began playing with words
“I am only, her employer, I can’t force her to stay against her will. And I am not letting her go
Ragini. Swara was never mine to let go.”
“Were you hoping she would have been.” Ragini asked again.
“I thought for a while, that there would be more to our relationship than just work, but I was
wrong. Swara wants to leave as soon as possible. There is nothing that I can do to hold her back”
“Laksh told me about some of the changes you had been planning. Maybe if she hears of that,
she might change her mind. I know she loves it at work.”
“She knows about them. I saw her last night. She is going to start her own business. Laksh, you
won’t believe, what! Advertising through the internet.” then he let out a small laugh “Talk about
“What coincidences?” Ragini looked from one to the other.
“Actually I had forgotten to tell you about this one. Sanskar was setting up a separate division that
would only deal through the internet, so that Swara would not have to interact with people
personally.” Laksh explained
“Sanskar, you would have done that for her?” Ragini was thrilled.
“I even told her that she would only have to deal with Laksh and me, but that seemed to have
made her even more adamant about leaving.” Sanskar related
“Oh Sanskar, I think that is Swara’s problem. She can’t handle working with you anymore.” Ragini
Ragini realised too late that the words expressed a totally different meaning to what she had
meant to say. Sanskar looked devastated on hearing her words.
“She hates me that much?” he inquired
“Hate you Sanskar! Gosh you men are really blind. Actually all except one, Galodia.”
At the sound of his name, Sanskar exploded
“Not you too! He has Swara eating out of his hand. Now he has you oozing compliments.”
“Did I just see the green eyed monster in you Sanskar? Wow, you have got it bad. Who would have
thought Maheshwari would one day be jealous of a man almost twice his age, and for someone like
Swara.” Ragini winked at Laksh
“Oh leave him alone, Ragini, Sanskar doesn’t feel that way about Swara. I know she is your friend
but she is plain, and …” Laksh began and when he hesitated pretending to seek a terrible word to
“Laksh don’t. Sorry mate but I don’t want to hear anything against her. Even if she was as plain
as she pretends to be, I would still not have liked anything said that was derogatory” Sanskar was
not rude, just firm.
“What do you mean, ‘pretends to be?” Ragini asked
“Ragini have you ever seen her with her hair loose and without those hideous glasses. She has the
most beautiful eyes that I have ever seen. There should be a law against people with such eyes
hiding them behind glasses.” Sanskar was once again seeing the blueness of them.
“And when may I ask, did you see all this?” Ragini asked. One week away and a lifetime of
events had already happened.
“The night I stayed at her place..” Sanskar began
“You what! Why didn’t Swara tell me any of this? That little devil! She has left out all the
interesting bits.” Ragini was smiling as she cursed Swara.
“Look it was all innocent. We worked late, I offered to take her out for dinner, she had leftovers,
we ate, I was exhausted and fell asleep, ‘on the lounge” Sanskar said emphasizing the last three
words. “Then in the middle of the night she woke up screaming. I went in. She was absolutely
traumatized. I had to scream her name and mine to get her out of the trance. That’s when I really
saw her. Not harsh and uptight as she makes herself look, but soft, vulnerable and so utterly
beautiful. I guess that’s when I realized that, I had fallen in love with her.” it was out
“In love? You in love with Swara! Sanskar if that is true, what are you doing getting engaged to
Pari?” Laksh asked
“Engaged to Pari? What gave you that idea? Galodia brought up her name as well.” Sanskar was
“Well she has been the only person we know that you have been seeing on a regular basis. For
the past three years the rumor has been that you have been in love with the model.” Laksh put in
“I was never in love with Pari. Pari and I consoled each other after Aadarsh’s death. I thought it
was common knowledge, that Pari was Aadarsh’s fiancé. She too had as hard a time getting over
his loss, as I did. In fact just last week, we had dinner together and she announced that she was
engaged to a friend of ours. She feared I would think that she was being disloyal to IAadarsh’s
memory. We were never an item. She could not get over Aadarsh. And I wanted to concentrate on
the business. Actually, she is coming down next weekend. I’ll bring her over to meet you both.
She is bringing Rohit with her. That’s the man she is marrying.” Sanskar was glad he had sorted
“I am sure we will like her. Swara liked her. Said, she was stunning.” Ragini said
“I suppose Pari is. It’s funny how different they both are. Pari dresses up to look stunning,
Swara goes out of her way to make herself look unattractive.” Sanskar said making the comparison.
“She has her reasons Sanskar. Her unattractiveness is her security.” Ragini said
“I am sorry, I don’t understand.” Sanskar began
“Sanskar this is in total confidence. If you had not acknowledged your love for her, I would not
have said anything even now. But the time has come for Swara to come out of her cocoon and I
think you are the person to bring her out.” Ragini started
“Ragini, tell me all that I need to know.” Sanskar saw a ray of hope in Ragini’s words.
“Swara was born illegitimate. Her mother fell in love with a man she did not know was married.
By the time she found that out, she was pregnant with Swara. Twenty-eight years ago, it was hard
for single mothers, even harder if you were unmarried. Her family asked her to choose between
an abortion or marriage to the father of the child. She could do neither, so she ran away. Ragini
then related all that Galodia had told her and ended with ‘the two men involved were killed as
their car crashed into an oncoming truck as they tried to escape. Six months later when Swara
was released from hospital, she turned to her mother for support. By now her mother had gone
deeper into depression and guilt. I guess in her guilt and frustration, her mother blamed the
incident on Swara. The clothes she wore, and the hours she kept. Swara left town, taking with her
all the money she personally possessed. She left behind everything else from her clothes, make
up, high heels, and even her jewellery. She has never worn any of them since.”
Sanskar could not believe what he was hearing. He could feel the pain she must have suffered.
Understand the humiliation at her mother’s words. No wonder she was plagued with the
nightmares. He remembered the slash he had seen on her arm.
“Swara said her eyes hurt in the light. I had not believed her when she said that. Were her eyes
hurt in the attack as well?” he asked Ragini
“There is nothing wrong with them, thank God. When she asked the men, why had they picked
her, one of them had growled, “It’s those blue eyes. We chose you because of those gorgeous
blue babies.’ She has kept them hidden from public view and once outside her home her horrible
glasses are her constant companion. You and I are the only ones to have seen her without her
shades.” Ragini related.
“It took her over two years to build up enough courage to even speak to a man again.” She
continued “That’s why she hates meetings and presentations. That’s why she won’t trust herself
with a man alone.”
“Ragini darling, I think that is no longer true. She let Sanskar into her home. And now she is sitting
with Galodia. Don’t stare, but” Laksh did not go further, for Sanskar was already glaring in that
direction. The atmosphere was suddenly charged. Since Ragini and Laksh knew Swara had been
there all along, it was Sanskar who was responsible for the change.
“Laksh, so it is. No wonder she did not accept our invitation for tonight. Well, well, well, this is
interesting.” Ragini pushed the subject further.
Just then Sanskar rose. “Where are you going? I hope you are not going to fight with Galodia?”
Ragini for the first time that evening was scared. Sanskar had always been such a level headed
person, that she had not anticipated this angry reaction.
“No Ragini, much as I dislike seeing that man anywhere near Swara, I would not do that to her
now. Not after knowing what she has been through. I would be no different from those two vile
creatures before.” he said, putting a reassuring hand over her shoulder.
“You won’t argue either.” she asked
“That would equal verbal mauling. I don’t ever want Swara to see a violent act or hear an angry
word again. No, I am just going over to talk. If I don’t talk to Swara now, I think it will be too
late. There is a lot that needs sorting out. There are too many misconceptions to be cleared.”
“Sanskar just one more thing. Be kind to Galodia. In his own way, he really does love her too.”
“I don’t mind if the entire world loves her, as long as she is in love, with only me.”
Sanskar was suddenly very determined that Swara was his. Only his!
“What if she does not return your feeling, what then mate?” Laksh put in
Sanskar looked at them, then at Galodia and Swara.
“Love has been known to blossom after marriage. Look at so many people who have had
arranged marriage. Their love for each other is no less real, than those that have love marriages. I
am prepared to wait for her to feel the same way about me, as I do about her. A lifetime if need
be.” Sanskar put in
“You are going to ask her to marry you?” Ragini was thrilled but still concerned.
“I am going to ask her alright, and if she does not listen to my reason, you our dear friends are
going to play cupids and convince her.” With a wink, he was walking towards Swara.
Ragini clasped her hand over Lakshs. And the lady seated at the table next to them wiped away
Swara saw the last of the interactions. When he stood up, she thought she was hallucinating. Then
she blinked her eyes. They were still there and Sanskar was looking in her direction. What were
they doing here? Ragini had invited him for dinner. Of the many restaurants to choose from, how
on earth did they manage to end up in the same restaurant twice?
“Suraj may we leave?” Swara’s hands were shaking.
“Swara, I said once before, never hide from battle and never run from love. I have known for a
long time that you were in love with him. And despite his pig headed behavior with me the other
day, Sanskar is everything I would like your husband to be.” Galodia knew he had only a few
seconds more before Sanskar was within hearing range.
“Suraj, you don’t know what you are saying. He is not in love with me, he is marrying Pari,
and please don’t say anything to Sanskar. I will disappear forever if you do that.” Swara feared the
“And what if I say you are wrong on all three counts.” Sanskar was by her side.
Swara could hear her heart thumping against the ribcage again. She should have been used to this
feeling by now, she had felt it for over a week, but the thumps seemed to be getting stronger
almost deafening. Sanskar had heard their conversation, how was she going to face him now? She
would have to go away, to some other city, maybe Perth. And in future she would remember
never to give a lift to any man.
As if fearing she might bolt, Sanskar rested one arm against the back of her chair.
“Suraj, would you mind if we exchange tables. You already know Ragini and Laksh and I need to
talk to Swara, alone” Galodia shook hands, and left saying,
“I’ll be at that table if you need me.”
“She won’t.” Sanskar was abrupt
Galodia turned and walked away, giving the impression of a man controlling his anger. But as
he looked at Ragini and Laksh, he was beaming from ear to ear. His eyes said, “It worked.” Then
instead of heading towards Ragini and Laksh, Suraj stopped at the table beside them, where the
solitary lady looked at him.
“Did you see her Parvati? That is your granddaughter.” The next minute, he was holding his sobbing wife.
Credit to: JANPA