SWASAN – CAPTIVATED FOREVER!
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
Swara reaches Chandipur
Swara was the youngest of a family of five. Life had been boisterous while they were growing up. She could remember wild, vigorous, often dangerous games with the neighbouring children. But the trouble was that they had all grown up long before she did. The last few years had been relatively lonely ones. And until recently she had been technically been in boarding school and then college in Bangalore. She had had very little experience of being one among other adults, especially in Kolkata or otherwise.
She loved being at Chandipur. She was surrounded by her own family and Sanskaar’s. And she was very much one of them, the focus of all attention. They called upon neighbours, and friends called upon them, and she was no longer the very young Swara Singh Oberoi, but the affianced bride of Sanskaar Maheshwari. Everyone was excited at the prospect of the betrothal party that was going to take place soon.
Sometimes she forgot that it was all a charade, that she had been driven into this false position by outrage and the burning desire to exact revenge.
She really had not realized how badly Sanskaar had been damaged by an ancient injustice. When he had spoken of it in vague terms in Srinagar, she had assumed that now that he was no longer exiled, he could return to Kolkata, take up his duties as usual, and live happily ever after. But it had been very unimaginative of her to think thus. In a very real sense his youth had been taken from him. He was a man who had wandered aimlessly for five years, building an impressive and doubtless a well-deserved reputation as a flirt and a businessman, but nevertheless robbed of the life that ought to have been his in the country that was his own.
He was full of hatred and bitterness, much of which he was denying.
She still strongly resented what he had done to her. She could never forgive him for that. She could never trust him again. But it was basically against her nature to hate. And since she was here at Chandipur for a while, she might as well try to do some good.
Om’s son Hemant wanted to play with a kid Sachin in town with whom he had become fast friends. Since Gauri and Om were occupied with their own duties, Swara volunteered to go and drop him there. Ofcourse Sanskaar joined them as well.
Swara (to Sachin’s mother) : Don’t worry, Mrs Sethia. I’ll come and pick him up after a while.
She walked back to the car where Sanskaar was waiting.
Swara : Why don’t we walk here for a while before picking up Hemant. There’s nothing to do at home anyways.
Sanskaar nodded and they walked along the crowded streets of Chandipur, stopping several times to greet the people who knew Sanskaar and spoke to him.
Swara : They love you, you know. They really seem to like you and approve of you taking over from your father.
It was true too. He talked with them and laughed with them and listened to them. They responded to his charm, which seemed very genuine in his dealings with them
Sanskaar : I think it’s because they like me investing in their businesses and helping them stay on their feet.
Swara : Nevertheless, You like doing it, Don’t you?
Sanskaar (nodding) : I am also realizing how irresponsible it was of me to stay away for a full year after Papa died and I knew I could come back. But then if I had not, Shona, I would not have met you.
Swara (curtly) : We both would have been better off if you had not.
He laughed softly.
They had been strolling back along a side street, a full hour or more after leaving the Sethias’ house. Swara noticed the main street where Sanskaar’s father’s statue had been built and she guided him towards that way.
Sanskaar (shaking his head) : No. Let’s go back and pick up Hemant.
Swara turned to face him. He was looking rather grim, the laughter all gone from his eyes.
Swara : I want us to go and visit your father’s statue. You cannot avoid it for the rest of your life, Sanskaar. If you try, you will find that it looms larger and larger each time you come here.
Sanskaar (softly) : And how did you become so wise?
Swara : Show me your father, Sanskaar.
He sighed and they walked down towards the memorial. It seemed appropriate that it was a gray and blustery day. But at least, she thought, there had been a cremation for his father. Shivaay intended to erect a stone memorial for Rudra at home and he also intended to start a scholarship fund in his name, but they would all be painfully aware that his remains were somewhere in Srinagar.
He did not waste time, as she had expected he would, making a show of giving her a guided tour of the path. He led her straight toward the marble figure whose shining whiteness proclaimed it a recent addition. There were flowers on the ground before it—Uttara had come here yesterday.
Here is a tribute to Durgaprasad Maheshwari, A man who contributed much to Chandipur and who helped the citizens lead a prosperous life
There followed a reminder to the living of his virtues and the fact that he had been beloved by all who knew him.
They stood silently side by side, the wind at their backs.
Swara : Did he ever contact you?
Sanskaar : No.
Swara : Did you?
Sanskaar : Every day for the first three months. His emails, his phone, Ma’s phone, Uttara’s phone, even Adarsh’s. The house landline, The local post office, the office numbers, everyone’s. Ma used to pick up almost everytime though we could never talk much. Uttara as well. i sent all sorts of messages—Begging, groveling, indignant, reasonable, furious, self-righteous, self-pitying, accusing letters—they ran the gamut of human emotions. I never got a reply from him. I gave up after six months.
Swara : He must have suffered.
Sanskaar (his eyes flashing) : My FATHER suffered?
Swara : From what you’ve told me, Your family was a close knit family. You know that he loved you. He must have believed the worst of you to have acted as he did. He must have been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. He acted harshly and probably hastily. But having done so, he must have felt bound by his decision. I believed he wished there were a way out.
Sanskaar : He did have a way out. He could have believed me, trusted me.
Swara (softly) : It is too late for him to admit that perhaps he made a mistake. It is too late for him to discover or to admit that perhaps love is more powerful and more enduring than all the negative emotions with which we punish ourselves as well as the person against whom they are directed. I’m sure he wanted to forgive you at the end.
Sanskaar : Forgive me?
Swara : Maybe he wanted your pardon as well. Hatred and love—they can be such overpowering emotions, and very often it is hard to distinguish the one from the other. If he had not loved you deeply, would he have been so harsh on you—and on himself?
Sanskaar walked towards the statue and touched it lightly.
Sanskaar : What do you want me to do, Swara? Do you want me to forgive him? Does it matter? Whether I shout it out loud or whisper, He can’t hear me. He is gone.
Swara : You’re still here. You’re here and you’re well. Why don’t you let go of that bitterness? Forgive him, Sanskaar.
Sanskaar : And how do you know all this? How are you so smart?
Swara : I’ve spent life alone and with family and friends. I may not have done a great deal of living, but there are things I understand about life.
She was an Oberoi through and through—she was bold and unconventional and not easily intimidated by other people or by life itself. But she was different from the others too. She had always known it. There was a solitary, mystical side to her nature that she very rarely revealed to other people.
Sanskaar : Then it looks like I should forgive him. You know all these years, being away from home, I managed to conjure up a ruthless man, a man without any emotions, without any worry for his family or for me. But…. But he’s my father. . . . My father . . . Can you even imagine what it would be like if Shivaay did to you what my father did to me? It was like a living death—to be so misjudged, so utterly rejected, so completely cut off . . . If I ever have children of my own . . . If . . .
He turned then and strode abruptly away until he was standing some distance off, one hand propped against the stone wall of the nearby building, his head bowed. His shoulders were shaking.
Swara did not go after him.
He came back after five to seven minutes. He did not look at her but at the figure of his father. He fell to his knees.
Sanskaar : Papa… Maybe you did suffer. Maybe you did miss me but your pride didn’t allow you to forgive me. Maybe we were just unlucky to not have spent more time together. But I can’t hate you anymore. I… I love you. I miss you. Rest in peace, Papa.
There were unshed tears in his eyes when he turned to Swara and tried to smile. She came to him and hugged him tightly. His arms came tightly about her, and he lowered his head and kissed her.
What was it about death, she wondered, that compelled the living into a passionate embrace of life and one another? What was it about death that made them feel so much?
She hugged him even tighter and deepened the kiss. But what she felt was not passion—not at least the blind, urgent need that she felt was driving him. It was more a tenderness—a deep, knee-weakening, heart-stopping tenderness. She remained fully aware of everything, including that she remained in a public area considered sacred for the people of Chandipur.
She was aware of who he was and what he had done to her, and what she intended to do to him in retaliation. But for the moment none of that mattered. Nothing mattered more than his broken heart.
He lifted his head after a couple of minutes and smiled down at her with desire-lidded eyes.
Sanskaar (whispering) : If this is your plan for making me fall in love with you, it sure is working. it is a devilishly clever plan. But I have time. There is a week to go before the sagaai. And then, I’ll have the rest of our lives.
She stepped back from him and brushed at the invisible dust on her kurti.
Swara : I feel really cold. I think It is time to go back and pick up Hemant.
He chuckled softly.
The next two days were disappointing. It rained the entire day and so, everyone spent their time indoors playing games and watching movies. Sanskaar stopped living in his father’s shadow and took a more active interest in the town and their wishes and how HE could execute them.
After a meeting with few of the people from the leaders in town, He thought with satisfaction, he would be able to settle to this new life and lay the ghost of his father.
The sun finally emerged the next day and everyone was able to go shopping or swimming in the beach where he discovered that all the Oberois– new and old could swim like fish. But then, so could Adarsh, Uttara and himself.
In the evening, Adarsh and Parineeta volunteered to take the Oberois to a temple about 60kms away the next day. However, Swara declined saying that after being cooped up for so long, She really needed some time to sit and paint quietly on her own.
Everyone tried to dissuade her and asked her to join them until Om persuaded them to let Swara do what she wanted.
The excursion would proceed without her, then, it was decided. Sanskaar waited until they had all left and he could have a private moment with her.
Sanskaar : Why don’t we go on a picnic to the caves besides the beach? It is really lovely there. Very nice scene to paint.
Swara (raising an eyebrow) : We?
Sanskaar : May I please come with you, just to hold your painting materials. I promise not to speak or otherwise disturb you?
Swara : Oh, very well!
She smiled beguilingly at him and kept one hand on his arm.
Swara : How could I not want my betrothed with me, after all? Is it a very picturesque spot? I shall endeavor to look my most picturesque self too and perhaps captivate you forever.
He grinned at her. This was how he liked her best, fighting him, keeping him guessing. And she certainly knew how to do that. For a while after that afternoon when they had visited the memorial, her manner had softened toward him and he had wondered if she had forgiven him.
But she had not so easily persuaded.
That morning while they swam, she had flirted with him, sputtering and jumping on him from behind when he was not looking and dragging him downward as they went under the salty water. She had let him kiss her on the way up and smiled dazzlingly when they broke the surface together. But afterward she had walked back to the house with one arm linked through Gauri’s and one through Om’s, chattering happily all the way, as if he did not even exist.
He no longer wondered if he was in love with her.
She had him utterly captivated. Forever.
He loved her.