SO HERE GOES CHAPTER 02………..
Swara parked her car and walked through the side entrance. It was much quicker to get a lift here for very few people used the elevators on this side. In the lift, she clutched her handbag to her body. She was right to take the decision that she had in life. All men were the same. She had thought that Sanskar was different, but he proved to be like everyone else.
Image and outer packaging was all mattered to them.
Back at her desk she placed her handbag down, picked up her mug and went to make herself a cup of coffee. Then she walked back to her desk. Everything on her desk was neatly placed in its spot. She hated to start the morning with a cluttered desk and so even if it took her a few minutes extra each evening, she made sure her desk was left neat and tidy. Only one personal item was placed on it. It was a photograph of two little children, a girl of five and a boy about a year younger.
‘How are those adorable kids?’ Ragini questioned.
If any one person had broken through Swara’s zone of seclusion, it was Ragini. It was through Ragini that Swara got her job at Maheshwari Industries. They had worked together on many projects at their last place of employment. Ragini never forgot how upset she had been when she and Swara had been paired together for the first time at their first job.
At the end of the first week she had felt that she would die of boredom. Swara hardly spoke, they never had their lunch break
together, nor did they socialise after work. It was the second week that saw the change in their relationship. It was Swara’s work that Ragini started respecting first. Her advertising ideas were ingenious. Once they found a common platform, their conversation became easier.
Soon their relationship progressed to friendship. As they won award after award, that friendship got cemented into a stronger bond. Ragini was the only person who knew everything there was to know about Swara. And when Ragini went up on the stage to collect the awards she knew that Swara should have stood there beside her. Only, Swara wanted to remain in her cocoon. And as much as Ragini wanted to, she knew that it was not yet time to pull her out of that cocoon.
Then Maheshwari had approached Ragini to join his firm. She agreed, on condition that Swara be employed as well. At first he had refused. He had never heard of her nor seen any of her work and was not prepared to employ people that did not share his vision. It was only after seeing Swara’s work that Sanskar hired the two of them. And five years later, they were still working there as a ‘team’.
In that time Ragini had met, fallen in love with and married Maheshwari Industries’s Sales Manager,
Laksh/Lucky Sharma . Her only regret had been that Swara had declined to become her bridesmaid.
Ragini had even agreed to let Swara wear the dark glasses. By the time Ragini married, she had come to look upon Swara as her sister but no amount of persuasion worked. Ragini did manage to convince her to attend the wedding and that had been a big step forward.
“They are fine. I spoke to them last night.” Swara answered Ragini’s question. Lost in her thought, Ragini looked blankly at Swara. Then realising that Swara was responding to her question she smiled back.
“Get yourself ready for a very busy time ahead of us.” Ragini informed Swara.
“Why, I thought we were right on top of everything?” Swara questioned without stutter or
“Lucky just walked by a few minutes ago. He said that Sanskar was sealing a major deal this morning. And that means more work. Much, much more work.” Ragini grumbled.
But Swara knew that Ragini was really looking forward to the challenge. Both of them worked best under pressure. And as long as Lucky was also at work, Ragini really did not mind staying back either.
“When do you get the kids again?” Ragini changed the subject back to the kids.
“Tonight, their father is dropping them off at six. I will need to leave at five. I have them till Monday. I hope you have not forgotten that I have taken Monday morning off. Greg will pick them up at eleven in the morning and I’ll be back here by lunch time.”
Ragini did not mind at all. In fact, she wished that Swara would take a lot more time off instead of spending so much of it at work. A phone call cut short their conversation.
Ragini was glad she had sorted that out, for within ten minutes of their conversation the
champagne bottle had been uncorked. Maheshwari Industries had taken on their biggest client ever and the entire building was abuzz with excitement. An email invitation from Sanskar Maheshwari arrived at every computer. “Celebrations in the boardroom at 4.30p.m – The American Media have come on board.”
Even as she read it Swara knew, this was another celebration she would not be
The day turned out to be busier than they expected. Ragini went from meeting to meeting while Swara continued with their existing work. The last hour was a scramble for Swara as she rushed to finish her work by five.
Sanskar was in his elements. After a disastrous start to the day, it had ended up becoming the most wonderful moment in the company’s history. Sanskar and his elder brother Aadarsh had started the company ten years ago. He was twenty-three then. His brother had been two years older.
Everyone had said their inexperience would be their downfall. But that very inexperience is what proved to be their success. They were prepared to try anything and everything. Failure was not a fear and success was not yet a drug. Within three years they had turned their two-man venture into a major player in the world of advertising. There was only one way to go, and that was up.
Then Aadarsh succumbed to cancer. Sanskar’s initial reaction had been to close shop. But during the reading of the will, Aadarsh’s wish was made abundantly clear. And he left Sanskar with the responsibility to fulfill his dream. Sanskar tried to do his best alone but work kept flowing in and he found he just could not cope with the increasing workload. When it got to a point where he was sleeping at the office, he began recruiting additional staff. It was at the small business award ceremony that he first got a glimpse of Ragini’s work.
He knew straight away that he had to have Ragini working for the firm. And with Ragini, came Swara. Initially he could not understand Ragini’s insistence on wanting Swara to join with her. Then she had shown him Swara’s portfolio.
After that it was only a question of signing on the dotted line. He remembered thinking, ‘as long as she does the work, what difference does it make if she does not possess the image or the personality that a corporate position requires’.
In the five years that Ragini and Swara had been with the company he saw Swara on a daily basis.
She had been polite and professional but totally distant. She had never attended the social functions nor been at the award ceremonies that had taken place. Her life seemed to be her work.
She arrived early and left late. That is why seeing the wedding ring had surprised him.
Either her husband was away a lot or he was a very patient man. Ragini and Swara’s friendship also puzzled him. He never understood what Ragini saw in Swara or how they could have become friends.
They were as different as night and day. Even at Ragini and Lucky’s wedding, Swara had arrived just in time for the wedding and left as soon as the couple departed for their honeymoon. She had refused to dance with anyone.
He remembered thinking of asking her to dance. She had looked so lonely and forlorn. Then he saw her refuse to dance with Ragini’s brother and not wanting to suffer the same fate, he had refrained from asking. He waltzed with Ragini and several other
people from work and noticed that she had barely looked in his direction. And even when she did, with her glasses, it was hard to know if she was looking at him or someone else.
His contact with her was limited to questions relating to work or glimpses when he walked through the corridors. As her employer he could have walked into the office whenever he wanted but he had instinctively known not to approach her territory. She worked best when she was left alone.
Ragini took the orders and Ragini brought back the finished product. As the outcome was always satisfactory he went along with the arrangement. With another person this system would never have worked but with Swara, he noticed an uncanny ability. Without ever sitting with him or discussing the project, she managed to always give him the result he desired. It was as if she knew what he would have done himself. And when Ragini and Swara were allowed to interpret the project as they wished, he saw a unique talent that he did not want to interfere with. His clients to date, had always walked away very pleased with their advertising campaign.
Now in the midst of his colleagues and staff, he looked for Swara. He felt ashamed at not having thanked her for her help in the morning. But worse still, he continued to feel guilty about his comment. He caught up with Ragini just after 5 p.m. and was informed that Swara had already left.
Sanskar could not explain the disappointment he felt. He had hoped that she would be there to accept his apology and his thanks. He had been even more ashamed of his behavior when he overheard a typist comment ‘Poor Mr. Maheshwari. She must have bored him to death.’
Thatstatement had made him angry both with the typist and himself. He told himself that his sympathy for Swara was the result of the protective feelings he had felt towards his brother. After chemotherapy, when Aadarsh had gone bald and his skin had discoloured, he saw how hurtful people’s glares and comments had been to Aadarsh. Yet he had behaved in the same selfish way.
He also accepted that he had indeed felt a bit embarrassed at being seen with Swara and ‘that thing’ she called her car.
Then he remembered the wedding ring and thought ‘At least there was a man out there who is better than the rest of us’. With that he joined in the conversation going on around him and told himself that he would leave the words of gratitude until her return.
Just at that point he heard Lucky say, “Sanskar, Ragini and I have something to announce.
Hopefully it will be an extension to this wonderful moment.”