The family members are gathering around the dinner table when Swara arrives from the Academy… she’s in a black short sleeves dress fit at its top wrapping her bust graciously and becoming larger at its extremity on her knees, more than the thin belt drawing her small waist, out of the loosened Sanskar’s t-shirts, it’s difficult to hide how skinny she’s becoming day after day.
Her first working day finished hours ago, but she has reassured her sister saying that she’ll stay for some more time, in need to read different reports about both the Academy and the projects she’s signing about… the driver was there to bring her home.
Coming out of the kitchen a plate in hands, Ragini smiles happily seeing her at the top of stairs.
“- you’re here Swara? … Everything is fine?”
Swara nods silently before she descends to the dining room, feeling guilty to let her sister taking care of the family and home alone, not only now that she’s working out but for the past month, she proposes:
“- I’ll help you putting dinner”
Ragini puts down her plate on the table, her eyes filled with tears as she remembers her sister’s words the last night, she ignores her sadness and turns to her smiling again, taking her by her shoulders she says:
“- nahi nahi… you’re tired, take a chair I’ll serve you…”
Sujatta who was arriving adds:
“- ha choree… join us today please, we’re missing you for so long time, hai na jiji?”
“- Sujatta! Bas…”
Annapurna was already sitting, she presses Swara’s hand saying:
“- beta?… we’ll be happy to have you with us for dinner”
Swara nods swallowing, how can she refuse all that kindness? But how can she be at that table “alone”?… like for prayer time, dinner time is the moment she avoids the most being with others, for her it’s unbearable to live those so simple moments without “him”.
Feeling her stomach already protesting against it, she lets her sister install her on the chair like a child… few moments later, everyone is absorbed eating and discussing about divert uninteresting topics, she tries her best to finish her plate in vain.
“- … ha Swaaraa!! What have you done with that old Chacha?”
“- what old Chacha?”
Uttara asks pouring water for herself.
“- there is an old cute man squatting in the Academy gardens… he’s turning Swara nut!”
“Ragini! He’s not turning me nut… he’s impossible…”
At Sujatta and Annapurna’s questions, Ragini starts talking about how they met him the day before and how Swara can’t bear his flute’s playing while she finds him really cute and moreover a good flutist.
“- Ragini, it’s not the point! But I really have a strange feeling about that guy… he’s hiding something and why he keeps teasing me with that song? He knew the condition hai na?”
“- but Swara, you ordered your security guys to break off his tent!”
“- I warned him more than five times just today and he kept distracting students, what should I have done?”
“- you could accept my proposition… hai na papa-ji? She was boiling with anger when I went there giving her lunch, I asked her to give him job in the Academy so he’ll not be homeless anymore neither distract you adorable students”
Durga Prasad smiles agreeing:
“- she’s right, beta… why…”
“- bade papa! I told you, there is something wrong with him… he’s lying about something and I feel like he’s here with some hidden purpose…”
Annapurna agrees with her:
“- if she’s not feeling him trustful, so she’s right… ji? You should do something about his intrusion, don’t worry Swara, i’m sure we’ll find a way so he’ll not trouble you anymore”
Sujatta swallowing a big part of her fork’s contain, says lightly:
“- personally, I already like him! Because of him I’m seeing my sweet Swara arguing, talking, playing detective once more… the old version of Swara is back… just like before Sanskar’s s…”
Annapurna stops her as the sound of Swara’s spoon crashing on the table and startling everyone… her eyes wide opened letting two heavy tears escaping their lashes and rolling over her face, she murmurs an excuse and lets the table running up to her room where she locks herself… refusing to let her sadness submerge her again, she takes Sanskar’s photo on her bedside’s table and hugs it lying on the bed rolling herself in a small ball.
Sanskar parks a big metallic grey car at a hangar’s door. Darkening his skin with some blackening cream, highlighting his beautiful brown eyes with kohl and hiding his lower face behind an unshaved beard, his hair brushed back with gel… he was unrecognizable in his black suit, a earring lighting his lobe and a big tattoo appears under his white shirt covering his chest going up on one side’s throat.
Putting on his sunglasses, he gets out and goes to open the back door to someone… he stands there while the other man goes inside… checks his watch before putting his hands in his pockets… when his vest moved back, an arm is shown hanging at his belt…
Swara opens her eyes startled… again… she doesn’t know if she was sleeping or it was one of her awaken nightmares. She sits up trying to calm down her racing heart beats, takes some sips from the glass of water on her bedside table then looks to her watch… it was nine.
Walking to the balcony, she discovers that the weather was windy, nature was angry about something, announcing a big storm… she lets the chilling sensation wrapping her, not able to wash off the strangling feeling pressing her throat… how long will that continue?
The sound of the wind storming in the trees’ brunches takes her back to that blissful day when a shattered Swara was searching after her marsi, her feet took her to a temple where she meets Sanskar with Kavitha… and there, like by magic her life turned upside down, she turned from a broken bird to a princess…
A nightingale’s song cuddles her thoughts recalling her that windy night too, when Sanskar was about passing a ring on Kavitha’s finger… like that night, tears beam at her closed eyes when she joins her hands in a silent prayer… hoping that the whistling wind will blow it in her Sanskar’s ear.
She hugs herself looking down to the gardens, in a stormy night also she discovered that Sanskar was able of everything for her… in what seems like another life, they lived there in a small tent… and they were happy! then by a conspiracy, wind discovered their secret when Laksh’ saw them sleeping separately!
That night, her Sanskar filled her maan with sindoor against her will… making her “his” forever, how could she be so blind those times, be so unaware about the love blossoming in his heart for her, making him swear lying just to protect her when he was putting himself in a damnation’s danger.
She shakes her head thinking about his madness, a sad smile illuminates her face remembering their life in that tent until the day he set fire in it claiming his love for her…
Thunder growls startling her…
Ssuddenly, she recalls the today, her fights with that old blind man, what was wrong about her when he’s around? Why is she always so angry meeting him? Like if he had a power on her… a strange power making her become heartless going so far that she asked her guards to destroy his tent…
His songs, his words, his tent… everything in him was recalling her the waste life with her Sanskar and this why he was playing on her nerves so much.
But now, in that bad weather, guilt is too much hard to support by her heart… didn’t she made too much errors till now to just add on her list making a poor old man really homeless… she’s absolutely sure he was still in the academy even now he has no roof on his head… lightning illuminates briefly the décor preceding a new growling thunder.
Moments later, she’s on the road driving her car toward the academy. She could ask Laksh’ to go and check on him but he was at Mumbai for some deal and she couldn’t wake bade papa or dad for that.
She shrugs imagining how much Sanskar would be angry at her and scold her for going out at that time alone and in a announced storm… but she doesn’t care! He has to be here to scold her, hai na? if he wasn’t God knows where, she wouldn’t become the mad woman she’s now!
She reaches the Academy gates after a hour, saluting back the surprised guard at entry, she drives down the alley stopping at the heap of ruins where she’s surprised to not find him… but everything was there… his flute, his stuff packed in a shawl, the rest of what was his tent, he didn’t move yet but where was he?
For a moment, she contemplates the idea of searching in his shawl for any information about him but she brushes it away… didn’t she decide to not play detective again?
Instead of wondering about that unknown person, she would be searching for her Sanskar! A whole month away… how is he living? where? With whom?
She walks toward a bench not far from there and sitting there, she whispers:
“- what am I doing here?”
It starts raining…
Sanskar gets out of the washroom annexed to Swara’s office… After washing off the darkening substance he was covering his face with and taking off his fake beard, he takes off his jacket slowly grimacing in pain, then walks to the glass wall facing him. The mark of kohl was more difficult to erase, opening his shirt, he inspects the bruises covering his right shoulder… Pressing it, he closes his eyes recalling in flashbacks a fight with three goons on the roadside…
He looks down to his hand tightening his injured fist , then letting go of a long tired sigh, he lays his forehead on the cold glass wondering how his life has turned from the happiest person on earth to the homeless lonely person he is…
A familiar sound startles him.. He opens his eyes shocked hearing her…
Manzilein ruswa hain… ( destinations are not cared for..)
Khoya hai raasta … (the path is lost..)
Aaye le jaaye … (Someone, you actually, comes n takes me away)
Itni si ilteja … (only this is my small wish..)
Ye meri zamaanat hai … ( This is my surety )
Tu meri amaanat hai aa… ( you’re mine.. )
Mujhko iraade de … (Give me intentions..)
Kasamein de, waade de … (Give me promises, guarantees,)
Meri duaaon ke ishaaron ko sahaare de … (Support the signs of my prayers..)
Dil ko thikaane de naye bahaane de … (Give shelter to the heart.. Give some new excuses,)
Khabon ki barishon ko mausam ke paimane de … (Give the peg of weathers
to the rains of dreams..)
Apne karam ki kar adaayein… (Bless me with your grace..)
Kar de idhar bhi tu nigaahein… (Look this way too..)
Sun raha hai naa tu … (You’re listening, right?)
Ro rahi hun main … (I am crying here..)
Sun raha hai naa tu … (You’re listening to me right..)
Kyun ro raha hun main… (Why I am crying here..)
Swara’s whispering melodious voice fills the isolated place, cuddled by the flows of torrential rain drenching her to the bone, that song was telling her heart’s plea…
All what she refuses to tell every caring person around her, because they weren’t him, she finally found somewhere… where she hasn’t to act brave and strong… Here, where she feels his presence, her tears are hidden behind the rain drops drowning her until suffocation… her heart asks for responses that her mind wasn’t able to give her.
What if he never comes back?
Sanskar would never let her suffer like that… If something happens to swara it’s sanskar who will suffer…
But without sanskar, swara has no more forces… No more reasons…
May be they were all right and she was wrong…
May be that’s it… He’s… He really…
The idea chokes her heart emptying her lung’s from air… Her head starts turning hearing her racing heart beats burden at her ears… the darkness around her fills her from inside and just when it throws a heavy veil on her troubled vision… she sees a silhouette running to her…
In a last confused moment of consciousness, hearing her name cried out from so far, she whispers inaudibly :
He was already at her side, catching her just at the moment she’s about falling from the bench… fainting…
Trembling fearful, he cries hugging her against his chest, cupping her face, his shaken voice begs her:
“- Swara!!! Kya hua Swara?!? What’s… Answer me.. Swara! Please open your eyes princess… Tumhara Sanskar is here… Please… Please…. Open your eyes SWARA… Don’t do that to me… You know your Sanskar isn’t so much strong to see you like that… How can you do that to me..”
He feels her hot tears contrasting with the chilling heavy rain showering them but she doesn’t react
Panicking, he puts her in her car, on the passenger’s seat and seats next to her dialing the doctor’s number.. But it seemed unavailable!..
Wiping the tears blurring his vision, he can’t focus on the slippery road… Checking her forehead, her breathing, her pulse… He was panting hitting the wheel every time the speaker’s voice announces that he must try later…
He parks behind the Maheshwari mansion, avoiding the guards he promised himself to fire for not noticing her going out alone at that time!
Cupping her unanimated body in his arms, he hurries to their bedroom putting her carefully on their bed… She was shivering!
He goes to the bathroom, returns with a big towel, he kneels in front of her wiping her hair, her face, her trembling body… in vain.
Then, he opens the closet taking clothes from it, then going to her, he hesitates for a moment but mumbles angrily:
“- you’re my wife, damn it!”
Putting another towel under her head to dry her hair, he says:
“- you’ll never change, hai na? what was the need of going out now!?”
He takes off her shoes massaging her freezing toes:
“- how can you be so careless!?”
Undoing her belt, palming her face again he adds:
“- don’t you have any pity for me?”
His eyes were filled by tears again feeling her feverous…
“- I should be really dead, may be…”
A heart breaking deep moan escapes her throat like an injured animal, he chokes in response leaning his forehead against hers and says tearful:
“- I’m sorry, Swara! Mujhe maaf kidjie…”
Her weak whisper blown out from her lips breaks his last defenses, he takes her in his arms and cries badly:
“- haa princess, Sanskar is here… please forgive me… I’ll never scold you again… but… but… just don’t do that to me…”
She doesn’t reacts, the too small thing he was bones’ breaking holding was what became his Swara by his fault, he sheds his tears away putting her back on her pillow and looks to her helpless.
His stands up, bending over her his arms wrapping her so his trembling fingers can unzip her soaked dress in her back, loosened, the black fabric discovers her shining with drops tender skin, her bones shape too aching his heart… closes his eyes swallowing hardly in pain then takes of the drenched outfit throwing it at the ground…
With another towel, he dries her unanimated body discovering the ravages of now seven months of lack of care about her health… clothing her with her usual pajama’s pants and one of his t-shirt he’s covering her with the heavy warm bed’s sheets when he hears a small knock on the door…
“- Sanskar… you have to go now, beta! Doctor will come at any moment…”
Bade papa was standing in his back looking worriedly to the door. As he got no response from his son, he presses his shoulder insisting:
“- beta… it’s really time to go!”
“- nahi bade papa!!!”
Sanskar almost shouts back to him taking off his hand, he stands up facing him:
“- enough! It’s over… I’ll stop this masquerade right now, right here!!!…”
“- I SAID NO!!!…”
He points his finger toward Swara’s sleeping figure in their bed and says tears flowing over face:
“- how long will she survive like that? She’s dying slowly in front of you all and you want me to just ignore it… nahi bade papa! Not at this cost… nothing… I MEAN NOTHING is more important to me than her!… no family… no respect… no revenge… without Swara, nothing means!”
“- Shhh… calm down! You’ll wake the…”
“ I DON’T CARE! Did you hear me… I don’t care… ”
Looking back to Swara, he cries tightening his fists in anger, at that moment he can’t manage to have any coherent idea…
Durga Prasad holds his face with his both hands obliging his to look in his eyes and says with a determined tone:
“- I know it’s difficult, we knew it from the beginning… but, you asked me then to remind you in such moment, that you swore on your love for each other to not back off, whatever happen…”
Sanskar’s eyes widen in shock like if his bade papa has punched him in his stomach… how could he give such terrible promise? How couldn’t he imagine the consequences?… how could he make that error again?…
He kneels at the bedside next to Swara’s face, takes her hand in his and presses a long kiss on it asking forgiveness again.
A car’s motor is heard from outdoor, it was still raining and almost midnight when lights turn on in the big mansion, voices announce that everyone has been awaken by the knocks on the door…
“- Sanskara… you have to go… NOW!”
A last kiss on his wife’s forehead, Sanskar run toward the balcony and disappears in the darkness of night.
A hour later, Ragini escorted the doctor down, he salutes both Durga Prasad and Ram who are waiting in the living room:
“- don’t worry Durga Prasad ji… I explained to them that she needs a lot of rest and care from all of you, she’s weak and in depression which is not good in her state, doctor Sharma is in a plane returning from a seminar in London, this why she has been unavailable tonight… I’m sure she’ll come to check her when she’ll be back.”
“- thank you Samrat ji for coming at such time, you’re really a friend…”
The good doctor salutes them again and leaves smiling, Ragini’s smile was way wider surprising the both old men… Ram asks her frowning:
“- kya hua beta?”
“- Papa ji… Ram uncle… it’s beautiful… we…”
She can’t continue her sentence as the three of them looks up to the shouting coming from upstairs…
“- I told you, you’ll not stay for one second more in that house!”
Sujatta was dragging Swara’s forcefully downstairs while Annapurna tries to calm her:
“- Sujatta! Stop it… let her explain…”
“- what can she explain jiji… my fault!! This is my fault that I let my son takes someone like her for spouse…”
“- mum… PLEASE… listen to me…”
“- SHUT UP!!”
Arriving at the end of stairs she pushes her hardly making her fall on the ground. Her sister hurries to her help shocked:
“- HOW DARE YOU!!!… Swara… are you okey?”
Swara was panting, her sister’s hands help her to sit looking up to her mother in low with widened shocked eyes, tears drowning her face…
“- how dare me!?… HOW DARE SHE!?!?!?”
Sujatta kneels face to her handling her shoulders forcefully shouting:
“- you tell me… tell me shameless choree… how can you be pregnant when you’ve been separated from my son for the last seven months!?!?!?!?!?!?!?”
……… TO BE CONTINUED.