Swara was standing in front of the glass wall in her office, her gaze grazing absent mindedly the fairy scene painted under her feet… In a maxi long black dress, its mid arms sleeves discovering her shining bangals assorted with the hearted entwined SS pendant she’s playing with at her in neck.
Her look focuses on her reflect on the glass, her right hand presses on her lower belly wondering:
Has she changed?… Now that she’s not alone, now that a tiny small life was beating with her heart there, has she changed?
Her face was tired, her eyes swollen with long night’s cries yet sparkle was illuminating her huge black irises and for the first time, a faded rose was coloring her cheeks and yes it seems like a smile on her face…
It even seems like if somewhere… Somehow… She feels a kind of warmness in her heart, a warmness she forgot about for so long that she doesn’t know if it means really happiness. Ha maybe that’s it… She’s going to be a “ma” and she’s surely happy for that.
A knock on the door cuts off her thoughts, she closes her eyes taking a deep breath, throw back on her shoulders her loosened hair and goes to sit at her desk. At the second knock she says wiping the pearling tears at her eyes corners:
“- come in!”
Dragging his bare feet lazily, the old chacha walks in, she details him from toe to hair, in his short black kameez and churidar, his opened sleeveless mid waist coat and the turban hating his white hair, his eyes hidden behind the black glasses and his right hand griping his flute tightly, he would look somehow classy if his outfits wasn’t so covered with dust… he stands in the middle of the room waiting, after some times, he clears his throat and says:
“- ehm… ehem… little madam ji, if you don’t know yet what will you say to me, I can come later…”
“- kya name tumhara?”
Sanskar frowns behind his glasses, something has changed in Swara’s voice, she’s even detailing him with interest which was making him nervous, did she discover the reality? No way! She would be fighting with him like the lioness she has always been and…
“- I know you’re blind, but not deaf… name?”
“- Aman… dekho, little madam ji, if it’s about my music, promise… I’ll never disturb you again… don’t worry”
Sanskar was honest, after what happened last night, he promised himself to never try to disturb her again…
Actually, the idea of coming here with that fake identity was the unique way to keep an eye on her when family isn’t around, he has noticed how careless she’s becoming day by day, she could have been harmed in that accident at the temple project field, or worst when she stayed for long hours at the top of the tour in cold… it was impossible for him to just stay away.
Then he saw that she was losing hope; losing strength… didn’t he tell her before? He can handle angry Swara… not sad Swara… As long as she keeps fighting with him, she’ll be alive!
But last night he wasn’t here, he couldn’t protect her and at the idea of what could happen if he didn’t come back early he shivers… thank to God she didn’t fall ill, bade papa has been very evasive when he asked about what doctor said, so he was so happy when guard informed him that she wanted to meet him at her office.
“- if you want, you can even keep the flute with you to be sure, I’ll not…”
“- shhhh! I asked for your name… just name! take a seat, Aman ji!”
Sanskar’s mind bugged for a second… she sighs repeating like if talking to a small child:
“- sit down, please…”
As he sits on the ground, she exclaims:
“- nahi nahi… sit on the…”
“- oh no little madam ji, it’s ok, who am I to sit there… and don’t worry, I’m more used to sit like that…”
He crosses his legs and was about apologizing again when she says:
“- I’m sorry Aman ji… I know you didn’t mean to disturb me; and I’m really sorry for your tent, I don’t know…”
“- hey madam! Stop apologizing like that…”
Sanskar starts feeling really bad, what’s going wrong with his Swara? He adds:
“-I’m confused… why are you…”
“- can’t you just shut up and listen to me?”
She startles him, for a second he imagines himself at home… saying some nonsense at his usual and Swara scolds him playfully. This memory breaks his heart, his look begged Swaraa for forgiveness behind his glasses… feeling overwhelmed, he bows his head afraid to let her see his sadness.
“- I came here last night to talk to you, but you weren’t here…”
She takes a deep breath closing her eyes then opens them and says :
“- I’ve decided to take my sister’s advice and engage you at the academy… you can teach flute to students as honestly you’re really a good flutist”
He looks up shocked!
“- kya hua? You want to stay here, hai na? and you want play flute… then join Swasan Academy, I’ll ask them to prepare one of the staff rooms so you can live in it”
As he keeps quite, she asks:
“- WHAT? Say something!”
Sanskar returns to sense and mumbles :
“- em… eh.. em…”
He frowns more trying to think about it and says:
“- nahi nahi little madam ji, I don’t need your pity, I can manage!”
She looks to him, her beautiful big eyes veiled with what? Sadness… hurt… he feels guiltier and adds:
“- dekho… it’s so kind of you, you’re really a great person little madam ji… but I’m not the kind of persons who can have a stable job with monthly salary and fixed work’s time… I can work here as a servant, making tea or snacks, cleaning around, this kind of things but teaching, I really can’t…”
Swara thinks for a while then says:
“- ok, done! But at one consition…”
“- Can I ask you something?”
“- Of course play for me… Guerua song…”
Sanskar was disappointed, he asks her tightening his grip on his instrument:
“- play for you? But you hate this song!”
“- who said that?…”
She stands and walks toward him before saying :
“- this song is…”
Tears fill her eyes looking aside to the outdoor decor… Those roses recall her that day when her Sanskar has promised her to make her feel like a real princess… She chases her tears away wetting her lips then look again to him asking:
“- I really want to listen to you playing this song today… Please!”
“- you didn’t forgive me?”
Her pleading wide eyes make his close his eyes afraid that she can see behind the wall his glasses were separating them with…. It was hard to keep a detached tone on his voice as tears were warning to overwhelm him too:
“- how can you say that? It’s just that I feel a bit… Shy…”
Swara has a small heartful giggle startling him, for few seconds she was his Swara, beautiful and bubbly Swara… He forgets how to breathe until her voice makes him land on earth again:
“- I’ll not look at you then…”
Applying her promise she goes to her desk, sits on her chair and turns her back to him looking to the photos ornamenting the wall there… At the first notes of flute her memories flow long time back to the first time she met Mr Sanskar Maheshwari… the devil who became her prince…
His acting madness with Ragini, his hatred toward his family, his cuteness avoiding her scrutinizing gaze… His guilt facing her with truth and his redemption path putting his life aside for hers… Until slowly, she became his life…
He faced her ignorance with patience, her anger with a consoling chest to cry on… Even in his anger he kept protecting her… Scolding her for being so careless for herself… Tears beams at her eyes thinking about his arms holding her from behind dancing on those same notes…
That’s what she wants her baby to know about… She caresses her belly letting tears flow freely on her cheeks, she whispers in her heart:
“- this is your ma and baba story little one…. This is the love which blew life in you, sweetheart… Not what happened yesterday!”
Ragini helps Swara get up freeing her from her mother in law’s grip, she is trembling still weak and shocked about the accusations Sujatta was throwing at her face, her hands pressing her sister’s forcefully.
She looks to her in disbelief, may be this is a nightmare too, she keeps having nightmares since sanskar let her alone!
“- look at me Swara!!! Tell me whose son have you brought in our house?… Who’s shame are you making us handle?”
Swara chokes hearing her words, she yells stopping her:
“- what are you saying mum!!!”
“- never say mum again!”
Sujatta rises her hand furious, she’s about slapping her shocking everyone one when Laksh’s voice reasons from upstairs in chorus with Ragini:
“- chachi ji!!!!!!!!!”
Ragini buries her sister’s face in her chest protectively, Laksh runs down stairs to stand face to his aunt, his back to his wife and her sister
“- what the hell is going on here?? Papa, ma? Have you all gone mad?”
Both his parents and his uncle bow their heads speechless, if there love and trust in Swara have no boundaries, Sujatta’s words were true…. At their mutism, he turns to his wife asking:
” – kya hua ragini? What happened”
Sujatta makes him look to her pulling on his elbow to snatch him from her way toward swara:
“I’ll tell you beta… Tumhara bhabi is pregnant”
Laksh’s face illuminates with joyful surprise, his eyes veiled with tears, he looks back to Swara who was crying in her sister’s embrace, Frowning again he asks:
“- this should be a happy event, hai na?… Chachi how could you raise your hand on the mother of your son’s son!!!!”
His smile has turned to an angry face remembering what he saw when he arrived.
“-don’t ever say she’s the mother of my son’s son! Ask her where did she spend her time for the past months!”
“- chachi ji!!!” Ragini shouts at her aunt face. Swara cries more without a word.
“- shut up chore… I know she’s you sister but you’re this house bahu… Your role is to protect his honor from that…”
Durga Prasad voice stops her:
“- kyu bhai Saa… What wrong have I said… You were all here hai na…. Ha Laksh beta… You weren’t here, but ask them all… Here, here in this place, in front of all of us Swara humiliated your brother accusing him for your disappearance, accusing him for not searching you and blaming him for sister’s sorrow…”
She grips Swara’s elbow manhandling her to the center and continues:
“- my son stood here helpless when you gripped his collar daring him to stop you!…. In front of all of us you announced your sentence! No more relationship between you until he brings his brother back… Ha or na ! Tell me!”
Annapurna tries to interfere:
“- Sujatta! You’re hurting her…”
“- No, she’s hurting us! Like she hurt my son walking out even after begging her to stay… She hurt my son for long six months living peacefully when he was going through depression searching his brother in day and mourning his love for her with a glass of wine in the nights… ”
Swara was sobbing silently feeling every word aching her heart more. Sujatta looks back to her:
” it’s all your fault if my son is gone today! He loved you more than his own life and what you did? You walked on in someone else arms!”
Swara closes her eyes about fainting feeling like if someone has punched her in her stomach but her mother in law grips her hair forcefully making her wince in pain, Ragini cries out asking her to let her in vain:
“- Say the truth choree.. Whose child is it?”
“- chachi! Let go of her”
Ragini and Laksh try to free her from her grip but she doesn’t let go of her:
“- answer me !!! My son is not here to put you at your place… I have that right! So answer me!”
Swara opens her eyes filled with tears and looks straight in her eyes saying:
“- sa… Sans… kar….”
She balances her making her almost fail if Ragini didn’t catch her at the last moment.
Swara straightens herself holding on her necklace.
Laksh tries to reason his aunty saying:
“- let her defend herself.. We all know that swara is not like that!”
Sujatta has small devil laugh saying:
” who is talking! After all those time you keep protecting her like at first sight”
Ragini frowns in disgust:
“- chachi ji how dare you? Laksh is just standing by the truth side… Swara would never be like you’re saying… Sanskar has always been the only man in her life”
“- really!?.. You’re adult ragini, you know how we make babies so tell me… Swara was at badi for the last months, did Sanskar come to see her? Did he stay there with her? Tell me.. May be you know something I don’t… No? Yes? No.. Nothing ha? The only man in her life my foot! Kabhi Laksh, kabhi Sanskar, kabhi Sahil kabhi again Sanskar and ha…. That boy! The childhood friend Nik… Ha jiji, remember that… Nikhil who was living at Gadodias home… Hai na swara? When my son was poisoning himself with alcohol, your childhood friend was sleeping peacefully under the same roof with you!”
The last statement startles swara shocking all the persons around… But laksh faces her angrily:
“- what nonsense!!! Nikhil was the police inspector in charge in my case… He was there to protect them at the approach of the trial and to stop Sanskar’s researches as they became dangerous for me!”
Everyone looks to him surprised, he turns to swara explaining:
“- sorry Swara, I should have informed you but since my bhai’s d…”
She stops him raising her hand at his face, the last thing she needs is to hear that fact again. She says :
“- I wasn’t saying that it’s Sanskar’s child, mum… I wanted to remind you that mere Sanskar would set fire in this house if he hears your words!”
Sujatta smirks detailing her from hair to toe and says:
“- thank to god he’s no more, he would set fire in your murdered body and finish his life in jail”
Annapurna wipes her tears approaching Swara:
“- beta… Forgive us for what I’ll say, but you have to talk, you have to explain the situation… I trust you but… But, you’ll have to prove your innocence!”
Swara’s drenched with tears face is illuminated by a sad smile, she looks at her belly pressing her hand on it protectively and says:
“- nahi bade ma…. I have been accused of being a characterless woman since the first day I put my feet in this house so at Ragini’s engagement… I had to fight so many times to prove to you all that that I deserve your trust… I deserve your love… Every single person here doubted me one day, the only person who has the right to interrogate me isn’t here for now…. Thanks to god because… ”
She wipes her tears shivering at the idea of thinking about his reaction at such accusations, closing her eyes, her memory is filled by the images of that night…
his kisses brushing away her tears, his hands caressing her face, her hair, taking off her dupatta…. His hungry love bites over her body, the storm in his eyes when he possessed her for the first time after so many months, his moans of pleasure against her bare skin… His words blown in her ear claiming her again and again making her all being raise until reaching heaven then land again in his protective possessiveness when he mutes himself burying his cries on her lips….
Blushing hardly, she faces her mother in law saying:
“- defending myself mum, isn’t insulting me, it’s insulting you…. Insulting my husband… Insulting Maheshwari’s blood I’m carrying, insulting this house’ grandson to be… ”
She couldn’t say the word her heart aching at this idea, but Sujatta wasn’t convinced, she continues her sentence:
“- fatherless! Ha fatherless son of a fatherless mother!”
Everybody is shocked at her words, Swara closes her eyes in pain, Ragini sustains her as she’s about fainting, but Sujatta doesn’t stop, she looks around saying:
“- kya? You really want me to believe her nonsense? She has nothing to say for her defense, no one to prove her lies, this why she’s…”
“- I CAN TALK FOR HER”
Everyone look to upstairs shocked at the familiar voice they heard
He walks down toward them and stands in the middle looking to Swara whose angry eyes were piecing him, then he bends to his father for blessings, but Durga prasad makes a step away, his mother looks away and when he turns to his aunt, she warns him pointing a finger at his face:
“- don’t ever try to approach me! I’m in killer mood… ”
He smiles joining his hands on his chest asking forgiveness and says:
“- I know we have a lot to speak about but let me at least clarify this situation”
He looks back to Swara who turns away from him thinking about the last time they faced each other, playing with sindoor and promising death of one of his brothers, she feels like about vomiting at this memory:
“- of course Swara is pregnant with my brother’s son, they patch up during Uttara’s sagai function….”
Swara looks to him shocked, he smiles at her reaction and turns to the family members who were still not aware of what he just said:
“- don’t look so stunned! I was in jail but Parineetha was here, she didn’t go anywhere that day, I know chichi ji asked her to go to her mother’s home but she stayed here and she informed me about the broken relation that dey… The patching one too…”
Everyone looks aside in disgust:
“- sorry Swara, I know it was bad to spy on you but… I scolded her for that but…”
Sujatta mumbles in confusion:
“- k… Kya patch up? Your Parineetha is fool! I found them in the store room… And my son claimed to everyone that nothing from it seemed to be is going on there!”
“- I’m not talking about that, chachi ji… They were there before that, after she danced, after Ragini went to hospital with that Nikhil… I told Parineetha was spying all of you!”
He walks toward Swara and Ragini, but Laksh stands in his way a hand at his chest and fire burning in his eyes.
“- Lucky!!! I’m so happy you’re alive little brother”
Laksh hits on his chest making him back off as he was about to hug him:
“- don’t even dare!… And never call me Lucky again… ”
Swara feels exhausted, she couldn’t bear anymore as her legs were turning jelly, she looks to her sister and asks her:
“- Ragini, can you help me please going to my room?”
Ragini wipes her sister’s face forcing herself to smile reassuring her and holds her tighter making her walk, Sujatta wanted to stop her but Durga Prasad stops her saying:
“- we’re all tired, enough drama for tonight… everyone goes in their rooms…”
He looks to Adarsh for a long moment, then after everyone left from there, he turns away when he was about to talk to him and goes upstairs letting him alone.
*************** END OF FLASHBACK************
At the last notes of the beautiful song, Swara wipes her face brushing her hair back with her hands; she has to be strong now… her child needs her!
She turns her chair back startling Sanskar who was standing up, her smile doesn’t hide sadness her eyes were expressing and as usual, he have to look down to avoid her look feeling the urge of just take her in his arms and tell her everything… absorbed by his thoughts he doesn’t notice her when she approaches him, she was already standing at inches of his face, her fragrance playing on his senses… he scolds himself trying to focus on his aim. Her voice makes him swallow hardly.
“- Thank you Aman ji… it was beautiful”
she takes his hand in her hers opening his palm and putting a silver wrapped piece of chocolate in it making him frown surprised, he asks her:
“- a present for my song!?”
Her smile widens at his tone, she takes the chocolate back and unwraps it saying:
“- no, a celebration… I love celebrating good things with chocolate”
“- and what are we celebrating? Me working as a servant in your castle, princess”
He slaps himself in his mind for his false note… focus Sanskar Maheshwari!!! Your wife can smell fishy things at kilometers…
She has a new small laugh surprising him again, and as she puts the piece of sweet at his lips, he opens them unconsciously biting on it, she says taking the rest back:
“- nahi Aman ji…”
Looking straight to his hidden eyes behind the black glasses, she says:
“- I am pregnant…”
She puts the rest of chocolate in her mouth and turns her back to him letting him stunned, the world has stopped turning, his heart beats deafening anything else at his ears but those three small words repeating in his mind… pregnant!… Swara was pregnant… she was going to give birth to his child… she going to be a ma… and he’s a father!!! He feels winded! Like if the world was falling in ruins around! This is wrong! This shouldn’t be like that!… he should be taking her in his arms, spinning her around him with happiness… asking her if she’s feeling well… reassuring her that he’s here with her!…
he extends his hand to her shoulder almost touching her, closes his eyes in pain pressing on the flute in his other hand until her metallic shape incrusted in his hand making him feel another kind of pain, physical one which he wished could erase the heart’s one… blood oozes from his injury flowing along the instrument like tears made their way on his face to the ground.
Swara eyes was unstoppable too, closing her eyes tightly her both hands on her belly… she doesn’t want him to see her crying, to see her pain in that moment, she prays him secretly to just go away and when she turns back she wasn’t there anymore.
She knees on the ground and lets go of her pain, crying badly. When she opens her eyes, she sees the red mark of blood, wiping it with her finger, she goes to the glass wall looking for the man who was there but couldn’t find him…
Sanskar was far away… punching on a tree truck with both his fists like if he was boxing a sand’s bag, blood start oozing endlessly as he was injurying himself at every beat but he doesn’t care, he needed this pain to support the storm shattering his heart… he thinks about Swara’s tears, her weakness, her state last night… her state over the passing month… her words on the funeral function, her pleading that night on the landing area… her sad smile saying she’s pregnant… tears were drowning his face as he’s about breaking his hands’ bone when a gentle hand stop him pressing his forearm.
Swara looks to her reflect on the glass for a while then to her fingers reddened with blood her thoughts flow back to the moments ago, when she announced that she’s pregnant to that stranger, to last night when she was on the bench waiting, when she came to the garden not founding him at his tent’s side…
She closes her eyes and whispers:
“- don’t punish yourself like that, Sanskar… i can’t handle more!”
Then looking again to her reflect, she draws her headline with the her finger filling her burn marked maang with his blood… her Sanskar’s blood!
“- whatever you’re doing, Sanskar… you need me to think you dead… but do it faster my love, your princess is now needing you more than ever, my prince!”
“- bas beta… bas! What will your Swara say if she sees you like that?”
Sanskar buries his face in the old woman neck crying like a small child while she caresses his back reassuring him:
“- we’re approaching our goal, beta! You’ll not be weak now hai na?… remember, you’re doing that for her too!”
He looks to her wiping his nose and says still sobbing:
“- for her ONLY!!! I’ll do anything to protect her…”
She caresses his face smiling to him but he hugs her again crying more.
“- cry beta, cry… it will sooth your heart!”
Ragini is preparing Swara’s plate for dinner, she comes out of the kitchen hearing Annapurna asking for her when Sujatta enters there secretly looking behind her to be sure no one is seeing her. She takes some substance from bottle and drop it in Swara’s soup before disappearing when she hears Ragini coming back.
Outside a hangar, Adarsh comes out from his car and enters there greeted by guard at the entry… the driver is Sanskar disguised with a darker skin and a beard.
Inside, Adarsh comes in front of a man giving his back to the entry, he bends over to his feet and takes blessing before saying:
“- they’re not talking to me at home yet, but don’t worry baba… I’ll win their trust again”
“- and Swara?… tell me about here…”