Swara approaches the still fuming filled with soup spoon to her lips closing her eyes, her mouth waters as honestly, now she was really hungry.
But at the moment the spoon reaches her mouth, it’s snatched from her hand and jerked on the floor… She opens her eyes shocked at her mother in law’s angry expression, she asks surprised:
Sujatta stays a long moment silent, her eyes fixing her frowning which confuses Swara more. When she’s about asking again, Sujatta mimes the silent putting a finger on her own lips saying:
“- shup! Bilkul shup!”
She takes the plate of food at her other side on the bed, cuts a big piece of bread which she plunges in the soup and before Swara could say anything, she pushes it in her mouth almost choking her:
“- mera potta eats from his dadi’s plate, ha!”
Her fake admonishing tone makes Swara smile wide, her eyes filled with tears of happiness, she shews hardly, her cheeks drowned which make Sujatta’s eyes teary too, she wipes her bahu’s tears scolding her:
“- silly choree! Stop crying like that… Don’t you know that the baby feels all his ma’s sentiments?”
Taking another piece of food, she adds extending her hand toward swara:
“- becchara baby… Don’t know until when I didn’t saw you eat prop..”
She’s cut at the middle as Swara plunges in her arms hugging her tight at her big surprise, she smiles repressing her tears and caresses her hair gently, when they broke their embrace, Swara takes the food from her hand and feeds her back…
Ragini who was watching the scene from the door, wipes her tears smiling and whispers a thankful prayer, this baby is surely a gift from God, a gift bringing happiness to their house again and now she’s sure, soon all the bad events they lived will be forgotten when his laughs and cries will fill the Maheshwari mansion… Washing off all the tears and sorrow!
At Adarsh instructions, Sanskar drives him to a huge mansion hidden in the middle of the forest, out of the town, a beautiful stone built old house where there were armed guards all around.
As soon as Adarsh enters the house, Sanskar gets out of the car searching a way to go inside without being seen by the guards, he hears a car coming behind him and hides himself.
The car parks and an old classy woman goes out of it, he’s surprised to reorganize hi aunty, bade ma’s childhood friend and Parineetha’s mother, Zulikha ji. She enters the mansion smiling.
When Sanskar passes an opened window, after having climbed a tree in the surrounding garden, he’s surprised to hear a familiar voice.
Parineetha was welcoming her husband a pooja plate in hands.
As she’s already turning away from him after giving him prasad, he catches her hand asking:
“- kya hua. Pari? Didn’t miss me?”
She replies with a small voice:
“- nahi… YOU didn’t miss me! I waited for you yesterday but what you did at the moment you were free… You hurried to the people who jailed you!”
He hugs her smiling and says:
“- kya karo, Pari? It was his instructions… You really think that I wanted to see that Durga Prasad again?”
“- I hope they didn’t hurt you more”
“- oh don’t worry… They were too occupied by their miseries… I arrived just in the middle of a big drama as their so beloved Swara is pregnant!”
At that news, the plate escapes from Parineetha’s hands making a deafening sound the floor. She was fuming…
Zulikha ji holds her shoulders in support while Adarsh smiles caressing her cheek:
“- don’t be sad sweetheart, with what baba has planned for them, they’ll never enjoy this baby’s birth… You really think that I can let this family see happiness again?.. First they lost their beloved Sanskar, then one after the other will be destroyed… I’ll never be peaceful until I have my revenge from that Durga Prasad and his parivar!”
He walks to a big framed paint on the wall; it portrays a happy married couple, a strong man in his thirties standing beside a beautiful young woman who was sitting, her baby in her lap.
Tears fill his eyes when he says:
“- they destroyed my family… fooled me all my life… How can they be so heartless, that they kept looking in my eyes without any regret!?”
Parineetha presses his shoulder saying:
“- they thought that no one can expose their secret one day… Hai na mummy ji?”
Zulikha ji smirks saying:
“- ha beta… Annapurna was so heartless breaking my daughter’s life, she has forgotten that the problem if your closest friends turn to be your enemies, your somber secrets will be turned against you”
A male voice reasons from the entry:
“- ha zulikha ji… I’ll never be able to express you my gratitude”
The old man with the scar walks inside, Parineetha bends down to his feet eagerly, he blesses her smiling, greets the old woman joining his hands then give blessings to Adarsh. Caressing his cheek, his eyes on the photo hanged on the wall, he adds:
“- you brought my son back and gave me the occasion to take revenge from Durga Prasad and his so perfect family… Looking to Adarsh again he says, don’t worry beta, he’ll be punished for what he did… He took your mother’s life and I promise you that he’ll see the closest to his heart’s life taken… Soon… Very soon!”
They hug each other happily… A disgusting view for Sanskar’s eyes who holds himself hardly not bearing their devil plan, he looks from the window, discovering that domestics are bringing lot of bags inside, he hears the old man’s voice again:
“- Lovely bahu… I come to this house for the first time in thirty years… Meals smell is watering my mouth”
Parineetha exclaims confused:
“- aree! Sorry baba ji! Of course… Lunch is served I was waiting you all!”
In the evening, at Maheshwari mansion.
Shekar, sharmista holding the little Ayush in her arms and Dida arrive at the up of stairs, their faces illuminated with beautiful smiles and their hands full of gifts. They are warmly welcomed in by the Maheshwaris who greet them happily, exchanging congratulations and wishes loudly under the richly decorated roof of the house.
Sujatta takes the small boy in her arms kissing him and teases Sharmistha:
“- I don’t care, ask your beti to give me a potta as handsome and healthy as this little angel”
Her serious tone makes everyone laugh, Sharmistha replies:
“- she’s your beti too… And she’s carrying your potta, I’m sure he’ll be as handsome as his dadi!”
“- I hope he’ll talk as much as his Dada! Cause if he’s like you…. ”
Everybody burst out laughing when Swara exclaims upstairs:
She was standing by Ragini’s side who finally succeeded convincing her to take off the black color at least for today, for her baby’s aarti.
In a deep blue embroidered sari, keeping her silky curled long hair loosened on her shoulders, just her necklace and bangels for jewelry and a wide smile on her lips, she was stunning…
Instinctively, she wants to hurry toward her mother but Ragini hold her hand while everyone is startled. She tells her:
“- aram se swara! You have to be careful na?”
Swara smiles shaking her head to agree, letting her sister guide her down, Sharmistha goes to meet to her, tears of happiness shining in her eyes:
“- you didn’t find it as important to tell your ma?”
She slaps her cheek playfully making her smile and cry at the same time, they hug each other tightly. Swara closes her eyes saying:
“- sorry ma…”
And thinks silently:
“- it was important to tell HIM first”
Sharmistha caresses her hair tenderly saying:
“- congratulations Shona…”
Kissing her forehead she repeats:
“- congratulations beta”
They break their embrace wiping their tear, Swara feels shy seeing her father who comes toward her, he stops her from bending down and caresses her head blessing her before she plunges in his arms too, he smiles fondly to her too:
“- congratulations beta… How are you feeling?”
She looks up to him smiling and says:
“- fine baba… Bilkul fine”
Dida complains in his back:
“- aree! Aren’t you giving me a chance to see her?”
Swara plunges in her warm embrace willingly, the old woman makes her look up and wipes her tears saying:
“- I should be crying not you Sorroo… You’re making this poor Dida too old so early!”
Swara smiles happily and the whole family goes in the living room waiting for all the preparations to be done.
Durga prasad excuses himself and goes out in the garden to receive a phone call:
“- ha beta… She is fine, and you?”
“- I’m OK bade papa, just take care of Swara…”
Durga prasad feels sad to hear his broken voice, he’s joined by Shekar and Dida who escaped the attention of everyone. He puts the phone on speaker asking him the news:
“- we’re almost reaching the goal bade papa, I succeeded to hack his laptop and I really hope that all the files will be decrypted by Nikhil’s team, he’s installed in the mansion you talked about bade papa… Parineetha has been living there since her disappearance from house…
“- beta… You’re taking so much risk with that matter… This man is dangerous!”
“- don’t worry baba… As long as they keep thinking that I’m dead, they’ll never suspect us!”
Dida asks him pleading:
“- when will stop all this beta? Swara is suffering like hell… She’s acting like if everything is OK but… Even today, her happy smile is not reaching her eyes…”
Shekar stops her pressing her hand, they all know how difficult is the situation for sanskar who replies with a strangled voice:
“- soon Dida… Very soon… When swara will be out of danger!”
Bade papa asks him worried:
“- won’t you come today, beta?… We can manage to…”
“- nahi bade papa, not today… I will never be able to stop myself from…”
His voice breaks aching their hearts, his papa tries to convince him as he knows how important is this event for him:
“- beta… But…”
“- take care of Swara…”
He hangs off letting them speechless, at that moment Adarsh appears at the entrance frowning, they all look surprised wondering if he was listening to their conversation.
But he greets them joining his hands and smiling:
“- namaste Shekar ji, dida ji… Pap….”
They let him there and go inside joining the family for tchai… Pandit ji was ending the preparations. Adarsh walks in surprised at the decor, he looks to the family members smiling at the sight of the small Ayush in his dida’s arms, he says:
“- aree wah… Isn’t that the cute chotto? You’re so bigger beta!”
Ragini takes the small boy away giving him a death look, he’s about joining everyone when Laksh stands in his way saying:
“- sorry… This is a family celebration, strangers are not allowed!”
“- As I remember without me, you would be still in the yesterday drama… No celebration at all… Hai na swara babhi?”
“- don’t dare talk to her and…”
“- ek second Laksh…”
Swara stops him walking to them, Annapurna tries to stop her but in vain, she looks straight in Adarsh eyes and says:
“- I’m not your babhi! But it’s true you’re this family’s son, so no one can stop you from joining us, bade papa?..”
She turns to the old man asking:
“- you said that at Sanskar’s recommendations, everyone in this family became shareholder of the Maheshwari will… This man is one of them, hai na?”
“- ha beta… It was Laksh’ idea that Sanskar concretized after he went missing for months”
“- exactly… this is just in case you’re asking yourself, why no one has already thrown you out since yesterday? and never think that I owe you any kind of help, Adarsh!”
Her accusing gaze and angry tone shock him, he tightens his fists to calm down replying with a faked hurt tone:
“- just Adarsh? Baihya nahi? Come on Swara even if my little brother is dead, you’re still like my little sister!”
Everybody exclaims in the same time, Annapurna holds Swara by her shoulders sustaining her while Sujatta is about slapping him. But Durga Prasad stops her:
“- Sujatta! Swara beta is right! He’s still this family’s son… Let’s start the pooja…”
They all join the pandit ji, Ragini still taking her little brother in her arms, walks at Swara’s side giving her hand to make her seat. Trying to lighten her mood, she says teasingly:
“- Swara… soon I’ll have to take vitamins to support your weight!”
Swara smiles but sadness has already submerged her again, she looks around to the family members smiling faces, enjoying the present blessed moment and feels so lonely…
Her hand caresses her belly secretly thinking that she shouldn’t spoil everyone’s joy…
When the prayer start, she join her hands holding tightly on her “SS” pendant…
On a river’s bridge…
Sitting on the bridge’s edge, Sanskar takes out his phone, puts it aside and takes over his gloves wincing in pain, the injuries over his fists are scratched again and covered with blood… He takes his phone back, scrolls in its gallery over Swara’s photos… Hundreds and hundreds of unseen photos, Swara didn’t even notice the photographer, smiling, walking, talking, eating and mostly sleeping.
Smiling, he lets his tears roll over his tired cheeks while he takes a long sip of his bottle of somber wine, which goes throw his throat burning its way down to his empty stomach… sighing, he closes his eyes tightly enjoying the physical pain wishing it erases the heart’s one…
Recalling her wide eyes looking straight in his soul while she said that she’s pregnant, he takes another sip before putting the bottle aside and caresses her image saying:
“- you’ll never forgive me that, princess… Hai na?… as soon as you’ll see me, you’ll shout at me and say GO AWAY SANSKAR… I hate you! Ha… You’ll hate me… and you’re right… I’m a hateful person…”
Thinking of her begging words and tears that last night:
“- I’m really sorry sanskar!”
“- please sanskar…”
He looks aside to the bottle recalling her scolding worried words:
“- why did you drive when you’re drunk… I’m your wife, I have all rights…”
He wipes his nose childishly with his sleeves crying loudly as he remembers when she wipes hers on his shirt playfully, he draws with his trembling fingers her image adding:
“- what are you saying to our little one, Swara? Tell me… When he wonders where is his dad… are you telling him… he’s a coward who preferred jumping over the void letting you … instead of taking you in his arms and says that he can’t bear the life without you…”
He takes another sip putting the bottle aside again and add:
“- he’ll … He’ll ask… Ma? How is my dad?”
“- Will you tell him how bad am I, Swara?”
“- How I made you suffer? How I failed fulfilling my promises?… ”
His vision is blurred with tears, he recalls the moment he proposed to her that beautiful day and repeats like in trance:
“- I’ll spend every moment of my life with you… I failed!”
“- I’ll make you always happy… I failed!”
“- I’ll never bring tears to your eyes… I failed!”
“-… Failed!… Failed… FAILED!”
He’s haunted by the images of her on the funeral order, her shouting calling him… Her unbearable words asking him to come back…
“- SANSKAR!!!…. SANSKAR!!!”
He puts one of his hands on his ear trying to stop the sound reasoning in his head, his trembling other hand is about dropping the phone down which startles him, and makes him grip it tightly trying to stand up difficulty, almost falling on the river…
He laughs hysterically his face drowned with tears:
“- aree wah! Sanskar Maheshwari… You’ll fall here now?”
Straightening himself, he adds:
“- no one will come and find you! Na!”
“- No one is even waiting for you…”
He looks to the photo again and says smiling:
“- it’s funny princess hai na? Our story started here… No one was waiting for you too… No one sirf me… Just me… Your prince…”
He bends over to the bottle taking and says:
“- but don’t worry, princess…”
He takes a big gulp of alcohol then starts walking:
“-Nothing can happen to me, Swara…”
“- Who will protect you if I’m not here?””
Dragging his feet lazily on the stoned floor of the bridge, he walks to the academy’s enceinte for what seemed to him the whole night.
Whistling the gerua song anthem, he arrives at Swara’s office, approaches their photo’s wall scrutinizing every immortal moment hanged there.
Feeling no more forces, he lets himself lay on the ground closing his eyes and drift immediately in a deep sleep.
Later in the night…
The door of the office is opened slowly without noise, someone walks in, the steps are stiffened on the marbled floor toward Sanskar’s sleeping silhouette.
Bending next to him, Swara’s eyes are immediately filled by heavy tears… The smell of alcohol, the opened injuries on his fists, the bruises over his right shoulder appearing under his shirt opening… She wipes his wetted cheeks softly breathing heavily.
She couldn’t even blink afraid that the sight of his face disappears when she’ll open her eyes again… Will she ever be able to look away again?
Her tears waters his face making his lashes move menacing to wake him up, but he just moans in his sleep which breaks her heart more.
She stands up going to one of her drawers to take the first aid box, then brushing her tears away, she sits on her heals face to him and takes one of his hands after the other, putting a healing cream on his injuries, she opens his shirts buttons and applies another one on his shoulder massaging it slowly which make him groan painfully again.
When she finishes she can’t resist but print a small kiss on it, magic healing kiss like he used to say. Afraid that he could open his eyes at anytime, she closes her eyes tightly repressing her tears and starts to go…
But as soon as she turns away, she feels her dupatta griped in her back, her heart skip a beat… Is he awake? She hesitates for a moment scolding herself for ruining whatever he’s supporting all that for! She hears him say:
“- don’t let me, Swara… Please!”
His heartbreaking plea makes her turn to him, she smiles tears escaping her filled with love eyes, he was still fast sleeping but yet gripping her dupatta almost tearing it… She returns back to him.
Not really thinking of what she’s doing, she lays down just at his side, putting her head on his chest enjoying the sound of his heart beats like the sweetest melody of her life… and says:
“- listen to that, little one… this is your dad’s heart beating just for your ma… don’t hear my name on in it…”
“- your dad loves you and your ma so much, that he’s suffering hell on earth away of us, protecting us from something he’s even not allowing us to know…”
She looks up to his face smiling:
“- will you be as handsome as he is? His long straight nose, his curved lips, his beautiful chocolate eyes?… cute, hai na?”
She nests her nose in the bare skin of his chest, smelling his so missed odor and adds with a small voice:
“- see… he’s here… he’s just here, you believe me now? don’t listen to them… hamara Sanskar would never let us…”
When she tightens her hug on him, he instinctively surrounds her silhouette by his possessive arms holding her tighter to him. For the first time since ages, she closes her eyes not afraid of her nightmares and drift in the most peaceful sleep she has ever had… tonight, the villain guy with the scar will not come and scare her in her dreams because as long as her Sanskar will be there, she’s safe.
A passing nightingale’s song cradles them until the first lights of the day…
TO BE CONTINUED…
Sanskar faces Adarsh in Maheshwari Mansion…
Swara meets the man with the scar at Badi!sw