Manheshwari Mansion seems like a devastated land after a big storm, the wide rooms, the long corridors, the flourished gardens around… silence and darkness has turned the familiar sanctuary in a big soulless stone built house.
When night comes, everyone retired in his room. Lights switched off, they lay on their beds restless, staring pensively to the sailing and recalling the last days events… today’s events.
They’re waiting for the sun to rise bringing a new day, may be Durga Prasad’s decision will bring some light to their lives again.
From tomorrow on, everything will return to normal, no mourning signs at home, returning to work and acting like the old adage says “life must continue…”
Sitting on the balancing chair, the old man is looking to his family photo’s album recalling all the beautiful moments they lived before the awful last months. Searching in his memories what would be the mistake which made his beautiful family shattered…
When his silent phone vibrates, he looks to Annapurna who is acting like she’s sleeping and goes out to the balcony to pick it up.
Swara opens her eyes startled, her heart pounding in her chest, her face drowned with tears and sweat… she’s scared feeling lost, she looks around searching and is surprised to find Ragini fallen asleep sitting next to her on the bed. She sits in her place wiping her face and eyes with her hands and putting her hair behind her ears. Then, looking again to Ragini, she feels bad for her guessing how uncomfortable was her position like that. She presses her hand making her wake.
Ragini sits strait immediately checking on her sister’s fever a hand on her forehead and cheeks.
“- kya hua, Swara? You’re ok?… you need…”
Swara takes her hands in hers and says with a small voice reassuring:
“- Ragini… I’m ok…”
Her sister is already trying to stand up but she stops her:
“- Ragini, go to your room and take some rest”
Ragini frowns and replies:
“- Nahi Swara… I’m fine, I’m just going to bring you…”
“- Ragini, I’m ok… I don’t need anything…”
Ragini tries to argue with her, but Swara caresses her cheek making her look in her full of tears eyes and supplies her:
“- Please Ragini… don’t make me feel guilty for you too…”
Crying, Ragini takes her in arms hugging her tightly feeling helpless, but Swara doesn’t hug her back, she swallows her tears refusing to break down. Breaking their embrace she asks her again:
“- Ragini… I’m really ok… I took my medicines, na?… please, I need to be alone… please?”
At badi, Sharmista cries badly sitting on the bed and thinking about Swara and Sanskar, she remembers how lovely he has always been with her and how much he respected them even when Swara and him were having problems.
Shekar presses her shoulder in comfort trying to console her, he says:
“- We have to be strong Mishti, Swara needs us to be strong…”
“- Shekar, how do you want me to be strong, mera Shona is there alone living hell on earth…”
“- She’s not alone, they’re all there with her… Didn’t you read Sanskar’s letter?”
“- KYA LETTER SHEKAR, kya letter!!!???… What was that?… blaming himself, making her his heiress… I mean, it’s so… how could Sanskar do that?”
Sharmista was both sad and angry… she can’t understand what’s happening and her worry for Swara’s state was putting her nerves on fire.
“- Mishti, Sanskar has always done that, he always did all his possible for her happiness…”
Sharmista stands up not bearing to stay in a place, she makes some steps absent minded and adds:
“- Exactly Shekar… Sanskar has never harmed Swara intentionally… so how could he do that? Is he making her happy now?… you’ve seen her… is it that making her happy?… and his poor family, he has always been such a lovely and perfect son then…”
Shekar wraps his arms around her from her back hugging her tightly and says:
“- Mishti, what has happened, has happened… we can’t change it but…”
At that moment someone knocked on her door, Sharmista exclaims:
“- who can come to see us at this late time?”
While she goes to open, Shekar picks up his silently ringing phone and goes to the kitchen to talk, he hears her surprised:
“- I’ll not talk to you Shumi, how can you hide all what had happened to my Swara?”
The anger on the old woman’s face and tone melts at the first tears of her daughter; she takes her in her arms crying and says:
“- Ma!… if only you know all that we have lived the past days…”
Shobha caresses her hair tenderly having an eloquent look to her son in law who came back to their… a baby cry makes her smile… she was eager to see little Ayush.
Ragini enters her room and sits on the bed’s corner landing her head on its poster, she was physically and emotionally exhausted. Looking to Laksh who was turning his back to her, she knew perfectly that he’s awake but as usual, he’ll keep quite asking her to let him alone.
Feeling armless, not finding a way to make things better, she goes to the balcony smelling the night’s scents her thoughts flowing on the last days happenings, the last months events and to those days when they used to be happy, tears flows from her eyes thinking about the sweet moments Swaragini teases joyfully Sanlack as they kept calling them… how to accept that those days will never come again.
“- How is she, Ragini?”
Laksh voice startles her in her back, she looks back to him, tiredness and sorrow ravaging his lovely face, he turns away from her inquiring gaze making her look outside again. She replies on a sad tone:
“- How would she be, Laksh?… she’s agonizing… who knows her feelings more than me, hai na?”
Laksh knows that Ragini was referring to the whole drama she lived about him some weeks ago when doctor had announced to her that he was dead. Guiltiness was killing him from inside, never in his worst nightmares he would thought that the decision he took more than six months ago would have such consequences… he bends his head and turns away tears running over his bearded cheeks.
Surprisingly, he feels Ragini’s hand on his, holding him back… he stops closing his eyes not looking to her but she faces him, caressing his face to make him look into her eyes…
“- Ragini… I’m…”
She shuts him a finger on his lips and landing her head on his chest, she wraps her arms around his waist hugging him tightly, she closes her eyes and says:
“- nahi, I AM SORRY Laksh… I didn’t want to blame you… I’m just worrying about my sister”
Wrapping his arms around her too, he holds her with all his forces crying and says:
“- you’re right… to worry about her… she’s your sister… never be like me… my… my brother kept helping me… protecting me… worrying about me… and what I did?”
Ragini takes his face in her hands trying to console him, she wipes his eyes with her hands, then looking back to his chest, she caresses the circular injury mark the three undone first buttons of his shirt shows, feeling her heart sinks at the memory of its cause.
Sitting on the shower cabin’s marbled floor, drowned by the hot water flows, Swara doesn’t know how long time she has spent here crying loudly like a little girl hiding from the whole world around.
This world out who wants her to be strong, to be fine, to accept what seems obvious… Sanskar, her friend, her love, her husband, her prince… the confident, the reason of her heart’s beats, the proud of her life and the man who makes her feel like a real princess…
HER Sanskar has succeeded fulfilling his promises to her like he always done, he found his brother, he gathered his family and brought the smile and happiness to her sister’s life… he proved her again what he has always been from the first moment she saw his real face, that moment when his blood has been spread on her saving her life from death even being on the dark side of the truth, even engaged in a heartless and blindness revenge against the most close persons of his life, even destructing her life in this path… he was there, above her helpless weak body offered as kurbaan to a devil witch, he was there stopping death from taking her as her closest person’s wishes…
What has been her life before? She can’t remember… it seems like her world started turning on that night when he opened his heart to her so she took off all its blackness…
Then from her jallad he became her savior knight… branding his white handkerchief to wipe silently her tears, his wide chest to handle her heavy with sadness heart giving her head a landing safe area… branding his force and his anger to protect her from any potential harm…
For long months, he faces her indifference with unconditional love, her heartless decisions to let him with patience and comprehension, her reject with an extended reassuring hand brushing her tears away again…
her tears now are hidden under the flowing waters pressing her shaken body like memories and pressing her shaken soul…
Memories of the stranger man who shared with her the same closed doors room and the reduced space in a tent for long days and nights respectfully going so far in his process to protect and help her so he lied swearing on gods…
Memories of the forced and unwanted husband whose heart was bleeding face to her ignorance but kept standing by her side against the whole world even after he claimed their friendship over…
Memories of the angry ex-husband who left his first love for her even after he put an engagement ring on her finger in front of the whole world…
Memories of the prince who stirred heaven and earth to prove his princess’ innocence when her castle turned to be jail…
Memories of her pathi who asked her to not break her father’s wishes and consoled her patiently on their official suhagrat night when her heart stayed back at her parent’s home…
Memories of her loving husband who made everyday like a new chapter in a fairytale where she’s heroine and he’s her prince, knight, servant…
Memories of her falling in the river again, his desperate face when she escaped his rescuing hand, his unconditional support even faced with accusing words and his concessions playing a diverting guy to spend time with her and see her smile back… his willing forgiveness for the awful moments she made him live until her memory was back and again his prince saves her…
Memories of his understanding at hospital when she confesses that she has deliberately injured herself searching her little brother, of his standing by her side whatever she did even if it seems wrong…
Memories of his calmness force facing his brother’s issue while making all his possible to earn money properly, protect his brother and save his family without forgetting about her… always finding a way to bring a smile on her face in the worst moments…
Then things turned a bad way, for the first time it seems like badness has won over goodness… betrayal evinced the truth… and her prince turned to be her jallad again!
Her blurred vision looks to her burned hand, she has refused to let her sister put a bandage on it… is it hurting? To this worried question from Ragini she couldn’t find a reply… the hurt feeling is wrapping all her being… this tiny marks can’t be more hurtful that what her heart was suffering form!… she details the bangels shining with water drops recalling the first time he offered them to her, with a coupled roses of her favorite color… the second time on that special night he made her “his” finally like he whispered in her ear…
And that last time…
She recalls every moment, every word, every touch, every look… again… again… again… like an old black and white film… again… again… again…
Closing her eyes, she screams with wrath crying more, the unwelcome image of the stretcher behind the ambulance closing doors… Laksh’s words… the whole mad situation when she opened her eyes today… THE LETTER!!!
Suddenly, refusing to recall those unbearable words, she wipes her face and switches off the water inlet tap, then she wraps a towel around her exhausted body and goes out of the shower glass cabin extending her hand to take the bathrobe hanged out… but she stops breathing feeling a so familiar texture under her drenched fingers tip…
That deep blue T-shirt from what his so virile fragrance was spread yet, she almost chokes taking it from its hanging, her eyes filled with tears again, she hugs it closing them and smelling the turning heads so particular perfume of her Sanskar …
*** FLASHBACK ***
Swara was in the bathroom, she has taken a rapid shower after a long afternoon in the kitchen preparing some traditional sweets for the family. She knows she hasn’t lot of time before Sanskar returns to home and it’s time to make tea.
She wears her skirt hastily and is knotting her choli in her back when something falls on her head covering her face too… from its fragrance, she immediately knows who has stormed in the bathroom without checking because too absorbed by his phone call.
“- No Mr Malhotra, I’ll not wait for another month… ha… I know… I know… ha… now listen to me carefully, I don’t care about all that, all I know is that this deal will be finalized before the end of the week!… ha it’s important… it’s a gift to… eh… Mr Malhotra, I’ll call you back later!”
At the vision of his lovely little wife standing in front of him, her long silky drenched hair falling heavily on her barely covered shoulders, the skin of her belly shining with water drops, her lovely curves shaped in that long skirt… it’s not only the call that he cancelled but all world around.
“- Sanskar Maheshwari! How dare you!?”
he frowns needing some time to realize from her accusing wide eyes’ black irises and her fists on her hips that she’s mad at him… he rises her eyebrows in surprise amused…
“- you find it funny, Mr Maheshwari!?”
He blinks trying to be serious, what would she reproach him? Frowning again, he thinks about the call assuring himself that she couldn’t have understood what he was talking about… may be because he’s shirtless… his Swara is a still shy small thing about… damn it, he can’t concentrate seeing her like that!
Her shout makes him look finally in her eyes asking:
“- did someone ask you to take me for wife and hanger so you can throw your things on me?”
He blinks again detailing her from head to toe appreciating the half of her sentence… taking her for wife… the best decision in his life…
“- HALLO!!! Houston… someone’s there??”
His wide wild smile makes her realize the situation; she feels blood heads up to her cheeks immediately making her blush to her hair roots… she throws back his t-shirt at his face and turns away to take her sari starting already to fold its extremity between her trembling fingers, she feels him coming closer into her back and her breaths become heavy… his husky suggestive voice caresses her ear:
“- Mrs Maheshwari… I took you for wife and everything… but if about hanger, it’s not really my t-shirt that I would throw on you…”
Her admonishing tone tries to stop him while she closes her eyes trying to ignore his closeness and continues the becoming difficult task of wrapping her sari around her…
“- kya hua, princess?… you were saying something hai na?… tell me…”
His finger was tracing the edge of her blouse in her bare back playfully making her shiver; she takes a deep breath making a step further away from his reach and replies:
“- no one taught you to knock on doors before entering somewhere?”
“- this is my room… my bathroom and you’re my wife, Mrs Maheshwari! and by the way…”
Extending his arm to the door’s locker, he adds:
“- it wouldn’t happen if… you had… lock… the… door…”
When he locks it portraying his words she turns to him startled and exclaims:
At that moment, she hears her mother in law shouting from the corridor:
“- Oh my god! Mum!!!”
She tries to push him but he just comes closer nipping her against the door… she struggles in his embrace whispering alarmed:
“- Sanskar!… let me go, she’s searching me…”
His hands at both her sides on the door, he was blocking her not allowing her even to continue wearing her sari which she just cover herself putting it on her shoulder.
“- HEY CHOREE!!! Are you here???”
Sujatta was knocking at their room’s door wondering where has her daughter in law disappeared for all this time.
“- Sanskar! Let me go!!!.. Ah…”
She was about shouting to her mum that she’s coming but he silences her a hand on her mouth then bending over her face looking into her surprised big eyes, he goes murmuring in her ear:
“- you should know Mrs Maheshwari… your shameless husband is able to tell her that you’re not available for the moment and will come later… but I think that tea time will be a bit awkward for the three of us”
Her eyes widens with panic, she looks aside to the door, there is some more knocks out but soon, she could hear her mum’s steps walking away blabbering about the younger’s lack of responsibility and wondering where has could be this choree… Sanskar’s devil smile becomes wilder when he says:
“- much better!”
She blinks few times to break the charm he threw on her paralyzing all her senses, then she abruptly pushes on his chest making him back off almost losing his balance but she’s surprised to feel immediately chillness wrapping her!
Looking to herself, she’s shocked to discover that she was just in small blouse and skirt, the long sari was in his hand, he just laughs back on the opened door of the shower cabin.
Smirking and narrowing her eyes, she bends to the floor to take the sari’s extremity pulling the material from his hand not aware of the appreciative view she’s giving him like that… but at the moment she gets up he pulls it forcefully dragging her to his embrace before she can react…
Collapsing on his bare chest, she looks up to him shocked feeling her lungs out of air…
“- you call yourself my prince, is those gentlemen’s manners Mr Maheshwari?”
Her voice was trembling, trying to hide the feelings he’s awaking deep inside her as his hot breaths are brushing her face so closely, she wets her lips swallowing.
“- kya karo, princess… your prince tries to be a gentleman but your husband is… bewitched by your beauty Mrs Maheshwari!”
The color of his eyes darkens as his hands grips her hips pinning her against him so she could feel his need for her, which making her flush looking away but he pulls on her chin making her look back to him and hovering over her face, he’s about to kiss her when she turns away from him trying to escape her own feelings dragging her toward him dangerously… he stops her.
Feeling his hands caressing her waist above her skirt’s boundaries, making their way above along her sides, her back arcs instinctively in response, her chest raising and downing with short breathings, she closes her eyes when his fingers draws the limits of her blouse in her back, undoing the loosened nod barely sustaining her perfect bust…
She opens her eyes startled at her sister’s voice in their room, escaping his grip she discovers that her opened blouse was discovering most of her shoulders, she looks back to his smiling face:
“- Sanskar!… it’s Ragini!”
“- she knows I’m here…”
She tries to explain him the situation trying to tie the nod in her back, he keeps looking to her calmly and replies amused:
“- SWARA? You’re here?”
Ragini’s voice was behind the bathroom door, Swara murmurs :
“- Sanskar! My sari… please…”
At the insisting knocks on the door, he bends to the floor to take the material while she’s trying to adjust her skirt and blouse. She tends her hand to take it from his hand but instead of giving it to her, he drags her into his arms possessively…
“- SWARA?… are you inside?”
She widens her eyes afraid and tries to argue with him but he shuts her putting his finger on her lips and throws the sari inside the shower cabin soaking it on its marbled floor. At her shocked look, he just blows in her ear:
“- just imagine what can I say to you sister, princess!”
Pulling her inside the cabin, he switches on the shower muting the knocks and calls outside and closes the door behind him…
*** END OF FLASHBACK***
To be continued…
* Shameless Swasan’s fan club leader *