SWASAN – MR MAHESHWARI AND I
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
THIS IS A SUPER LONG CHAPTER!!!! HAVE FUN!!!
Swara’s fear of the thunder….Sanskaar comforts her…They share some secrets about their lives..
Swara : So we are friends?
Sanskaar : Yes! I believe we are…
He stretched out his hand. Swara took it and shook it. They smile at each other….
Swara : Chalo ab! Let’s get up and go back.
Sanskaar : Haan Chalo!
Sanskaar gets up and offers his hand to Swara. Swara smiled as she took his helping hand and rose to her feet.
Swara : I’m glad we are going to be friends. You’re—you’re really not the devil I’d originally thought you.
Sanskaar raised an eyebrow and smiled wickedly.
Sanskaar : I’m not?
Swara : Oh well. You are a devil, But you are nice too.
Sanskaar : Nice? Nice is so lame and bland…
Swara : Nice is nice. That too, After all, I hated you until a few days ago. You still have to improve my impression.
Sanskaar (laughing) : You know what, Swara Gadodia? One thing about you, is that you are never boring.
Swara (sarcastically) : Boring is so ‘bland’.
Sanskaar smiled. A true one which he did not often give. Swara suddenly felt very hot and her throat tightened.
They walked out and up the stairs.
At the top..
Sanskaar : Good night, Swara! I have to go this side and you, that side.
Swara nods and says good night.
Swara (after taking a few steps, looking back) : Mr Maheshwari?
Sanskaar turns around.
Sanskaar : Call me Sanskaar. We are friends now. Also I started calling you Swara.
Swara smiled hesitantly.
Swara : San..s..kaar!
Swara felt strange saying his name. Sanskaar’s eyes widened. He didn’t know it would feel this good to hear his name from her mouth. It sounded almost musical. He stood staring at her.
Swara : Mr Maheshwari?
Sanskaar (startled) : I just told you to call me Sanskaar.
Swara : I did. You didn’t respond. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you….for helping me tonight. I don’t think I would have recovered so quickly if it weren’t for you.
Sanskaar (embarassed and gruffly) : I didn’t do anything…
Swara (walking closer and touching his hand, tells softly) : No! You did everything.
They look into each other’s eyes.
Swara, before she’d be tempted to stay, squeezed his hand one last time and hurried to her room.
The following morning was the sort that usually follows a violent storm—bright and clear, but with a fine, damp mist that settled cold and refreshing on the skin.
Sanskaar had not slept the entire night. He had spent most of the night staring into the darkness and seeing nothing but Swara’s face. He’d finally fallen asleep as the first streaks of dawn fingered across the sky.
By the time he woke, it was well past noon, but he did not feel rested. His body was suffused with a strange combination of exhaustion and nervous energy. His eyes felt heavy and dull in their sockets, and yet his fingers kept drumming the bed, inching toward the edge as if they alone could pull him out and to his feet.
Finally, When he could no longer stay and hear his stomach growling, He staggered out of bed. With a wide, loud yawn, he moved to the window, not because he was looking for anyone or anything in particular, but simply because the view was better than anything else in his room.
And yet in the quarter second before he looked down and gazed upon the grounds, he somehow knew what he would see.
Swara. Walking slowly across the lawn, far more slowly than he’d ever seen her walk before.
He couldn’t see her face from here. He was too high up. But he could see a curve of her cheek. His eyes followed her as she walked. He could not move. There was something magical about the way she held herself, the way she wore that amazing purple salwar, a strange grace in the way her arm swung as she walked, an artistry in the posture of her shoulders.
Sanskaar : Swara is going to the gardens.
And he knew he had to join her.
The weather remained in its contradictory state for most of the day, dividing the house party neatly in half, between those who insisted the bright sunshine beckoned outdoor play, and those who eschewed the wet grass and damp air for the warmer, drier clime of the drawing room.
Swara was one of the former, though she didn’t want company. She was in a very thoughtful and reflective mood and could not bear to make polite conversation with people she never knew.
So she decided to go to the gardens and sit. She found a quite spot by the rose arch and decided to sit on a bench there. The stone was cold and damp, But Swara was tired. She hadn’t slept well the night before and felt that sitting was better than standing.
She rested her head against the cool bench and thanked God for her solitude.
She sat for several minutes, just staring off into space, her eyes focusing somewhat blindly on the tightly furled bud of a nearby rose. It was nice to be alone, where she didn’t have to cover her mouth or stifle the loud sleepy noises she made when she yawned. Nice to be alone, where no one was going to comment on the dark circles beneath her eyes or her uncommon quietude and lack of conversation.
Nice to be alone, where she could sit and attempt to sort through her muddle of thoughts about her host. It was a daunting task, and one she’d rather put off, but it had to be done.
But there really wasn’t all that much to sort out. Because everything she had learned in the past few days pointed her conscience in one, singular direction. And she knew that she could no longer oppose Mr Maheshwari’s proposal to Ragini.
In the past few days he’d proven himself sensitive, caring, and principled. Even, she thought with a glimmer of a smile, heroic.
He was devoted to family.
He had used his social position and power not to lord over others but simply to spare another person insult.
He had helped her through one of her phobic attacks with a grace and sensitivity that, now that she could view it with a clear head, stunned her.
He was and might always be a flirt and a rogue. But that alone did not define the man.
In fact, The only objection that Swara had to him marrying Ragini was that –
She wanted him for herself….
But that was selfish. And she could never be that way. Not when she knew that Ragini could be happy with him. She could never let anyone know what she felt. If Ragini knew that Swara was even the tiniest bit infatuated with the man, she would put an end to his courtship at once. And what purpose would that serve? Sanskaar would just find some other beautiful, eligible woman to pursue. There were plenty to choose from in Kolkata.
It wasn’t like he would choose her anyways.
So what would she gain by preventing the suit of her sister and Sanskaar Maheshwari?
Only the heart-break and agony of seeing him with her sister. But that would reduce over time, Wouldn’t it? She had told just hours before, That time heals all wounds. It had to be true, Wouldn’t it?
Besides, it would probably hurt just as much to see him married to some other lady; the only difference would be that she would not have to see him at holidays and functions and the like.
Swara let out a sigh. A long, sad, weary sigh that stole every breath from her lungs and left her shoulders sagging, her posture drooping.
Her heart aching.
And then a voice filled her ears. His voice, low and smooth, like a warm swirl around her.
Sanskaar : That sound came right from your heart…
Swara got up so fast that she stumbled over the bench leg and fell, right on top of the rose bushes.
Swara (crying with pain) : Ouch!
Sanskaar (alarmed) : SWARA!
He comes near her and tries to take her out, But she is badly tangled in the thorns.
Swara (crying) : Ouch! It hurts…Please take me out! Ouch!
Sanskaar : I know Darling! I’m going to take you out, Swara! You are a strong girl…Just bear it for a few more minutes.
He slowly untangles her hair from the thorns and then with one quick pull, takes her out from the bushes. He carries her and sets her down on the bench. Her right arm and side are completely pierced by thorns and she is bleeding.
Sanskaar calls the servant to get the first aid kit. He asks her to close her eyes.
Sanskaar : Close your eyes Swara! And brace yourself. I’m going to remove the thorns embedded in you, Ok? Stay strong.
She nodded, clutched the bench tightly and closed her eyes. He slowly begins to take out the thorns from her shoulder. She gasps out in pain. She leaves the bench and hold Sanskaar. He gives her a squeeze and continues to take them out.
He finishes with the shoulder. By this time, The servant has returned with an antiseptic and a soothing cream. He applies it so that she will hurt less while he removes the thorns from her waist and legs.
He finishes applying the salve.
Sanskaar : Swara! Now I’m going to remove the thorns from your waist ok?
He removes them all. Her salwar has been torn to shreds on that side. Sanskaar takes the salve and hesitates about touching her bare waist. Swara opened her eyes.
Swara : Kya hua Sanskaar?
Sanskaar gestures to her waist.
Swara : Oh!
She tries to apply it herself, but her palms too are cut.
Swara : Koi baat nahi…You apply it. I don’t mind.
Sanskaar nodded and touched her waist with one finger. Swara felt a tingling feeling that had nothing to do with the pain or the comfort of the cream. It was due to his touch. He placed his palm on her waist and continued to rub. The tingling feeling grew thousandfold. She gasped. He looked up at her. She stares back at him.
He turns away from her and continues to apply the salve on her leg and palms.
Sanskaar (in a pained voice) : Sorry!
Swara (surprised) : Sorry? Why?
Sanskaar : You fell because of me na? If I hadn’t startled you….
He stopped, looking tortured.
Sanskaar (whispering) : Agar tumhe kuch ho jata toh….
He turns away feeling extremely guitly. Swara couldn’t bear to look at him in this condition.
Swara : Nahi Sanskaar! It was not your mistake. I got up so fast and so clumsily that I slipped. Please don’t blame yourself.
Sanskaar looked down. Swara understood that he still felt guilty.
Swara (in a soft, reassuring voice complete with emotion…she cups his face and makes him look at her) : Sanskaar Maheshwari! You haven’t done anything. I am perfectly alright! Please don’t feel guilty. I can’t bear it.
She rests her forehead against his. They stay like that for a long time.
Finally, Sanskaar finished applying the ointment. He removes his coat and wraps it around Swara. She looked at him gratefully. They look at each other awkwardly.
Sanskaar ( after a really long pause) : I actually came here, thinking that you might be here.
Her eyes widened at the realization that he’d deliberately sought her out. Her heart started beating faster as well, but at least that was something she could keep hidden from him.
Sanskaar : Do you wish to go back?
Swara shook her head.
Swara : If I go now, everyone’ll be there. I don’t particularly want to see anybody. I would rather sit down for some time and then go.
He nodded and sat down next to her. They gazed at the horizon.
Sanskaar (quietly) : I saw you from my window, and wanted to make sure you were okay.
Swara sat down, disappointment rising in her throat. He was merely being polite. Of course he was merely being polite. Silly of her to dream—even for a moment—that there might be something more. He was, she’d finally realized, a nice person, and any nice person would want to make sure that she was feeling better after what had transpired the night before.
Swara : I am. I’m perfectly fine. Thank you!
Sanskaar (nodding) : I was very worried about you throughout the night. I’m glad.
Swara (surprised) : You were worried?
Sanskaar : Of Course! You were in so much distress. How could I not worry?
There it was, that infernal politeness again. Oh, she didn’t doubt that his interest and concern were real and true. It just hurt that they were prompted by his natural kindness of spirit, not any special feeling for her.
Not that she had expected anything different. But she’d found it impossible not to hope, anyway.
Swara : I am sorry that I kept you from your sleep.
She told that because she felt she should. In truth, She was desperately glad he had been there.
Sanskaar (sternly) : Don’t be silly. I was glad I was there. I hate to think of you all alone during a storm.
Swara (admitting) : I am usually alone during those times.
Sanskaar (frowning) : Alone? Why? Don’t you family members know?
Swara : They don’t know I still fear them.
Sanskaar nodded. He knew well the singularly strange sensation of loving one’s family to distraction, and yet not feeling quite able to share one’s deepest and most intractable fears. It brought on an uncanny sense of isolation, of being remarkably alone in a loud and loving crowd.
Sanskaar (in a subdued and purposely even voice) : I know that it can often be most difficult to share one’s fears with those one most deeply loves.
Her brown eyes, wise and warm and undeniably perceptive, focused on his. For one split moment he had the bizarre thought that she somehow knew everything about him, every last detail from the moment of his birth to his certainty of his own death.
It seemed, in that second, with her face tipped up toward his and her lips slightly parted, that she, more than anyone else who would ever walk this earth, truly knew him.
It was thrilling.
But more than that, it was terrifying.
Swara (whispering) : You are a very wise man!
Sanskaar mesmerized, took a moment to realize what they were talking about. Oh yes, Fears.
Sanskaar (trying to laugh off the compliment) : Most of the time, I’m a very foolish man.
Swara (shaking her head) : No. I think you’ve hit the nail squarely on its proverbial head. Of course I would not tell Ma and Ragini. I do not want to trouble them………But I suppose my motives are not completely unselfish. Part of the reason I don’t tell them is because I don’t want to seem weak in front of them.
Sanskaar : That isn’t a terrible sin…..
Swara : No, maybe not. (smiles) I would hazard a guess that it is one from which you, too, suffer.
He didn’t say anything, just nodded his assent.
Swara : We all have roles to play in life, and mine is to be strong, sensible and rational. Crouching under a table due to electrical storms is not any of these three.
Sanskaar (quietly) : Your sister is probably stronger than you think.
Swara’s eyes flew to his face. Was he trying to tell her that he’d fallen in love with Ragini? He’d complimented her sister’s grace and beauty before, but never had he referred to her inner person.
Swara’s eyes searched his for as long as she dared, but she found nothing that revealed his true feelings.
Swara (quietly) : Of Course she is. But I am her older sister. I would rather she be innocent and bubbly than turn out like me. I have always had to be strong for both of us, where as she has to be only for herself. You are the eldest too. You know you behave the same way with your siblings.
Sanskaar nodded, and his eyes looked amused and resigned at the same time.
Sanskaar (sighing) : Yes. Exactly!
She gave him an answering smile, the kind that passed between people who know similar experiences and trials. And as she felt herself growing more at ease next to him, almost as if she could sink into his side and bury herself against the warmth of his body, she knew that she could put off her task no longer.
She had to tell him that she’d withdrawn her opposition to his match with RAGINI.
It wasn’t fair to anyone to keep it to herself, just because she wanted to keep him to herself, if only for a few perfect moments right here in the gardens.
She took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders, and turned to him.
He looked at her expectantly. It was obvious, after all, that she had something to say.
Swara : Mr Maheshwari!
Sanskaar (gently) : Sanskaar!
Swara : Sanskaar! (She wondered why it seemed more difficult to use his given name) I need to tell you something.
Sanskaar (amused) : Yeah! I got that..
Swara (not able to look at him now, instead she looks at a banyan tree ) : It’s about Ragini.
He followed her eyes and looked at the tree.
Sanskaar : Is everything ok? Is there something wrong with Ragini?
Swara (rambling) : No! She’s perfectly fine. I think she’s reading a novel as usual. Actually she loves books. She can’t hear a thing we say if she is immersed in them. I can never do that myself…….
Sanskaar holds her shoulders, effectively cutting her rambling.
Sanskaar : Swara! What is it that you want to tell me? Need to tell me?
He watched with interest as she steeled her shoulders and clenched her jaw. She looked as if she were preparing for a hideous task.
Swara (in a big rush) : I want to tell you that I have reconsidered my opinion of you. I would now be honoured if you accepted my sister’s hand in marriage.
Sanskaar’s chest deflated.
Sanskaar (because he had to say something) : Ohh! I see.
Swara : I know I was terribly biased at first, being very judgemental. But I have come to know you better here at Venus Park, and in truth, I could not allow you to go on thinking that I would stand in your way. It would—it would not be right of me.
Sanskaar just stared at her, completely at a loss. There was, he realized dimly, something a bit deflating about her willingness to marry him off to her sister, since he’d spent the better part of the last two days fighting the urge to kiss her rather senseless.
On the other hand, wasn’t this what he wanted? Ragini would make the perfect wife.
Swara would not.
Ragini fit all the criteria he’d laid out when he’d finally decided it was time to wed.
Swara did not.
And he certainly couldn’t dally with Swara if he meant to marry her sister.
Ragini was the perfect match for him.
Swara was giving him what he wanted—exactly, he reminded himself, what he wanted; with her sister’s blessing, Ragini would marry him next week if he so desired.
Then, Why on Earth did he feel like shaking Swara senseless until she took back her words? Why on Eart did it feel like his world breaking in two?
It was that spark. That damnable spark that never seemed to dim between them. That awful prickle of awareness that burned every time she entered a room, or took a breath, or pointed a toe. That sinking feeling that he could, if he let himself, love her.
Which was the one thing he feared most.
Perhaps the only thing he feared at all.
It was ironic, but death was the one thing he wasn’t afraid of. Death wasn’t frightening to a man alone. The great beyond held no terror when one had managed to avoid attachments here on earth.
Love was truly a spectacular, sacred thing. Sanskaar knew that. He’d seen it every day of his childhood, every time his mom-dad and Bade Papa-Badi Ma had shared a glance or touched hands.
But love was the enemy of the dying man. It was the only thing that could make the rest of his years intolerable—to taste bliss and know that it would all be snatched away.
And that was probably why, when Sanskaar finally reacted to her words, he didn’t yank her to him and kiss her until she was gasping, and he didn’t press his lips to her ear and burn his bream against her skin, making sure she understood that he was on fire for her, and not her sister.
Never her sister.
He had no place for love in his life and so, He did not…COULD not have place for Swara in his life.
They just sat looking at each other, wondering how and why they needed to be with each other, but couldn’t.
PRECAP : Sanskaar shouts that he will marry Swara Gadodia!
Guys, What do you think? Was this an unnecessary chapter? I began to follow the book, But then felt that I couldn’t write that…It didn’t feel right. So wrote this…What do you think?
As for the precap, Those who’ve read the book know how they end up marrying each other. Do you think I should write that itself? Or I have another idea, while a little filmy would suit the Indian life more…
Please do clear my confusion…I don’t know which one to write…
I had promised a promo to clear all confusion…I will upload that within the next 2 days…Until then please bear with me!!
WAITING FOR YOUR ANSWER TO MY QUESTION…PLEASE DO COMMENT AS I’M VERY VERY CONFUSED!
Credit to: Anjali