SWASAN – MR MAHESHWARI AND I
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
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Introduction of Laksh and Saanvi
Sanskaar returned early that night to find Swara looking worried and pacing about.
Sanskaar : Swara!
She turned and smiled wanly at him. As he kept his laptop on the table, He asked her what was wrong.
Swara : Why do you think I can’t remember anything? Did something really horrible happen? Am I really ready to find out? What if… What if…
She broke off, unsure of herself. Sanskaar frowned slightly, resumed his calm face and stopped her pacing. He hugged her and then made her sit down.
Sanskaar : It’s not like my strong Swara to be so frightened of anything. I know the rain isn’t your favourite thing in the world. Maybe something did happen when you were young.
She covered her face with her hands. Sanskaar smiled and sat down on his knees on the floor and removed the hands gently.
Sanskaar : I think you forgot the lesson you taught me.
Swara (puzzled) : Lesson I taught?
Sanskaar : Haan! You were the one who taught me not to let my past cloud my present. I was so convinced in my belief which prevented me from living fully for 8 years.
Swara smiled as her worry began to lessen.
Sanskaar : Now listen Swara! Maybe we are going to find out something horrible. Maybe not. But that doesn’t mean we should let it trouble us today, right?
Swara (smiling and resting her forehead against his) : Using my advice against me, huh? Just like my husband. But…
She got up and helped Sanskaar up as well.
Swara : But, you’re right. This was irrational and silly. Whatever it was, I won’t let it stop me.
Sanskaar : That’s like my lioness! Now, Shall we go?
Swara : Alright! Let’s do this.
AT GADODIA NIVAS
Swara : Ma!
Sumi (delighted) : My Shona! Sanskaar beta! Come in…. What a surprise! How are you both?
Sanskaar : Ma! We’re fine.How are you?
Swara (worried) : You look thin. Are you fine?
Sumi : Haan beta! I’m not getting thin by the way. You just haven’t seen me in a long time.
She made it sound slightly accusatory, The way only mothers could do.
Swara : You were always too good at making me feel guilty na?
She chuckled and gave her mother a peck on the cheek. They followed her into the living room and Sumi went to get refreshments for the two of them.
Swara (after they had all settled) : Where is Ragini? Sakshi must be at the airport now. I spoke to her before coming here. Her flight to Bangalore is on schedule.
Sumi (smiling) : That’s right. Ragini went to drop her. She probably might meet Karan’s mother after that.
Sanskaar : Accha! I didn’t know aunty was in town.
Sumi smiled and nodded.
Sumi : But I am really surprised that you both are here. At this time, especially.
Swara (hesitantly) : Well…
She looked at Sanskaar who nodded reassuringly at her. Her doubtful expression vanished and calm settled over her face.
Sumi (worried) : Swara! What’s wrong?
Swara : I’m still afraid of storms, Ma. I want to know why. I don’t want to be afraid any longer.
Sharmishta’s lips parted, but she was silent for many seconds as she stared at her stepdaughter. Her skin slowly paled, taking on an odd, translucent hue, and her eyes grew haunted.
Sumi (whispering) : I didn’t realize. I didn’t know you still….
Swara (softly) : I hid it well.
Ma reached up and touched her temple, her hands shaking.
Sumi : If I’d known, I’d have …
Her fingers moved to her forehead, smoothing over worry lines as she fought for words.
Sumi : Well, I don’t know what I’d have done. Told you, I suppose.
Swara’s heart stopped.
Swara : Told me what?
Ma let out a long breath, both of her hands at her face now, pressing against the upper edge of her eye sockets. She looked as if she had a terrible headache, the weight of the world pounding against her skull, from the inside out.
Sumi (in a low voice) : Beta… I just want you to know…
Swara : Ma?
Sumi : I didn’t tell you because I thought you didn’t remember. And if you didn’t remember, well, it didn’t seem right to make you remember.
She looked up, and there were tears streaking her face.
Sumi : But obviously, You do and I couldn’t do anything about it. I’m so sorry Swara!
Sanskaar : Ma! You have nothing to feel bad about. We all know you thought the best thing for Swara was to forget it. Please don’t ask forgiveness from her.
Before Swara could agree, Sharmishta protested against his words.
Sumi : It is my fault. I didn’t know that Swara was still suffering from her fears. I should have known. It’s the sort of thing a mother should sense. I may not have given her life, but I have tried to be a true mother to her—
Swara (soft tears in her eyes) : Ma! Don’t say try… You have been the best mother I could ask for. You ARE my true mother, My Ma! Don’t ever think otherwise.
Sharmishta turned back to her, holding her silence for a few seconds before saying, in an oddly detached voice.
Sumi : You were three when Priya died. (turning to Sanskaar) Priya was Swara’s birth mother.
Sanskaar nodded and she continued.
Sumi : To this date, I mourn that such a strong and wonderful person was taken away from this world so soon. Your Papa and her weren’t very happy together. But instead of forcing themselves into an unhappy relationship, Priya convinced Shekar that a divorce between them would be the best for them. Shekar wasn’t as convinced as her because he was wondering about you.
She paused. Swara and Sanskaar waited for her to collect her emotions and continue.
Sumi : Priya told him that if they were unhappy, Then their child would be unhappy too. She thought a broken happy home would be better than an unhappy forced family. So Shekar agreed and they split up.
Swara (smiling) : Then Papa met you.
Sumi (a smile appearing on her face as well) : Then he met me. I met you when you came for our wedding, The same time I met your mother. I thought she’ll be mad at me, but she hugged me and told quietly that she was glad her daughter would have another mother. A week after the wedding, I stayed for 3 days with your mother to learn more about family.
Swara (astonished) : You learnt from Priya Ma?
Sumi : I did. She was a remarkable woman, Swara! I see many traits of her in you too. If she was here today, I am sure that she would be extremely happy and proud of you.
She grew morose and dull.
Sumi : It was devastating when she passed away. No one could have predicted the fever taking such a drastic turn. I came with Ragini and Shekar so that he could take care of your mother and I, you. You were very quiet and perceptive, like you knew something was wrong. But even then, I found something very striking.
Sanskaar (intrigued to hear about Swara’s childhood) : What was that, Ma?
Sumi : Ragini was barely two when we came there. As expected, She needed to be attended to and was a tearful girl at that time. But you could always calm her down. She needed you even at that age, just as much as you needed her.
Swara smiled and nodded through her tears. She turned to gaze at a portrait of her and Ragini and smiled wider.
Sanskaar : But what does this have to do with the rain?
Sumi : I’m coming to that, Beta! After all the funeral rites had been completed, We decided to take Swara with us. After deciding that, I made two vows. One was to you, Swara. I took one look at you, so lost and forlorn with those huge brown eyes—and they were sad, oh, they were so sad, eyes no child should have—and I vowed that I would love you as my own, and raise you with everything I had within me.
She paused to wipe her eyes, gratefully accepting the handkerchief that Sanskaar handed to her. When she continued, her voice was barely a whisper.
Sumi : Priya had been a good mother to you; everyone said so, and any fool could see that you missed her with everything in your heart. So I promised her all the same things I promised you, to be a good mother, to love and cherish you as if you were of my own flesh. (pausing for a while) That’s the reason why I begged you for forgiveness. I should have known, should have seen that you suffered. I’m so sorry, Sanskaar! I should have seen that she suffered.
Swara (protesting) : But Ma! This is not your fault at all. I purposely hid it from you. I didn’t want you to find out. I hid in my room, under my bed, in the closet. Anything to keep it from you.
Sumi : But why beta?
Swara (sniffing back a tear) : I don’t know. I didn’t want to worry you, I suppose. Or maybe I was afraid of appearing weak.
Sumi : You’ve always tried to be strong. From a little kid.
Sanskaar (agreeing, holding Swara’s hand but looking at his mother in law) : You’re right Ma! She is strong. And so are you.
Sharmishta gazed at Swara’s face for a long minute, her eyes nostalgic and sad, and then spoke in a low, even voice.
Sumi : While we were returning home, unfortunately, We were caught in a storm. Too many trees had fallen on the road and we could drive no further. We sat in the car for almost an hour before the rain stopped. But the trees weren’t cleared out. Poor Ragini was tired out and slept through the whole thing but you were awake and saw the entire incident.
Swara and Sanskaar (confused) : The incident?
Sumi (nodding and sighing) : Let me tell you. As I said, Ragini was fast asleep in the car, But the three of us were restless, especially Shekar and you. So we got down to stretch our legs. I didn’t wander far away. Ragini needed me. So your Papa and you decided to walk for a while.
Swara listened carefully. This was the moment. Something about “This incident” had made her afraid of storms. But what had happened?
Sumi : I thought it was a good idea for you to get some exercise. It would have helped you forget your grief. Shekar thought to go on the road and see how long it would take for us to get moving again. So you both wandered down the path and I stayed hoping that the roads would be cleared soon.
Sanskaar : Then?
Sumi : About 20 minutes later, It had begun raining again and Shekar returned. He was carrying you, but it was quite a sight. I can never forget it. You were crying your eyes out and fought your dad’s arms every minute he held you.The sobs from your eyes, It made the rain seem paltry.
Swara (shocked) : But Ma! What happened there?
Sumi : I was horrified and wanted to know what had happened. You became quiet but you didn’t feel like talking to anyone. (smiling at Swara) You can’t imagine the worry I was going through at that time. I felt like killing your father. He refused to tell me anything until we got home. It was all I could do to make sure you weren’t traumatised… But, Of course you were.
Sanskaar (really impatient now) : Ma! What happened to Swara?
Sumi : They cleared the road after half an hour and we came home 2 hours later where a doctor gave you a mild sedative to help you sleep. Then Shekar told me the entire story. As you were walking, It began raining again as I told you. (They nodded) He thought that it would be best to return to the car, But you refused. You’ve always loved to be outdoors. Your father told me that your mother used to bring your cradle outside and rock you in the fresh air.
Swara (whispering) : I didn’t know that.
Sumi : Haan. Anyways, You continued down the road and suddenly you saw a vehicle upturned. But it was too dark to see anything. Shekar moved forward to take a closer look but you suddenly screamed. Shocked, he turned to look at you. But you were looking beyond him. When he turned back, he saw a woman, maybe about 25 years old with a small girl, just like you. Unfortunately, they were……
Swara and Sanskaar understood and did not ask her to finish the sentence.
Sumi : The lightning that lit up the mother and child, the rain, Priya’s death. Maybe it was all the three reasons or maybe it was none of them, but you hated the rain since then. When you saw them, You kept screaming NO NO… That’s what Shekar told me.
Sanskaar started and looked at Swara. She noticed and asked what was wrong.
Sanskaar : Last night, You were screaming No, no. Nothing else, just that.
Sumi (with tears in her eyes) : It’s not the sort of thing a child should see. At three years old, You’d seen far more than any other elder ever could. You wouldn’t speak of it. Not that you could, right away. You slept for hours and hours, and then when you woke up, it was clear that you’d fallen ill. You were ill, and not in any state to talk about your mother’s death or anything else. And when you were well, you wouldn’t talk about it. Your father tried, I tried, but every time we mentioned it, you shook your head and clamped your hands over your ears. And eventually we stopped trying.
She gave Swara an intent gaze.
Sumi : You seemed happier when we stopped. Slowly, You came out of the trauma except when it rained ofcourse. So we thought it would be best if you didn’t know.
Swara : I know you did what was best for me. And maybe at that age, It probably was best. But now, I needed to know, I had to overcome it. I needed to know….
She turned to Sanskaar, not for reassurance exactly, but for some sort of validation.
Swara (repeating) : I needed to know.
Sanskaar ( his voice soft and full of care) : How do you feel now?
Swara (thinking about it) : I’m… not sure. A bit lighter?
And then, without even realizing what she was doing, she smiled. It was a hesitant, slow thing, but nonetheless a smile. She turned to Sanskaar with astonished eyes.
Swara : I feel really light. Like a huge weight has been thrown off my shoulders.
Sumi : Do you remember anything now, Shona?
Swara shook her head.
Swara : I don’t remember anything. But I still feel good. I can’t explain it, really. It’s good to know, even if I can’t remember.
Sharmishta made a choked sort of sound and then she was out of her chair and next to Swara on the sofa, embracing her with all her might. And they both were crying, the odd, energetic sort of sobs that were mixed with laughter. There were tears, but they were happy tears, and when Swara finally pulled away and looked at Sanskaar, she saw that he, too, was wiping at the corner of his eye.
He pulled his hand away, of course, and assumed a dignified mien, but she’d seen him. And in that moment, she knew she loved him more for that. With every thought, every emotion, every piece of her being, she knew she would never stop loving him. Everyday, She would love him more.
EVEN LATER THAT NIGHT,
Swara sat in her room thinking about her visit to her mother. She walked over to the window and stared outside as Sanskaar entered and hugged her from behind.
Sanskaar (softly) : You know something?
Swara (softly) : Why don’t you tell me?
Sanskaar : I knew you were strong. I knew you were fierce and caring. But today… (his voice choked a little) Seeing how much you went through at a mere three years of age, I can’t help but admire your strength.
Swara ( interrupting) : I was three. I remember nothing now. I don’t think I’m strong. I…
Sanskaar : It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember, My love. Whatever you’ve been through so far has made you the person you are today. So it does have an impact on you.
Swara sighed and leaned back against his chest.
Swara : How come you always tell the most perfect things in the world?
Sanskaar : I don’t think before talking to you. All I know is that I love you. And that means I know you. I…
Swara : Sanskaar, Stop…. (at his confused look) You’re going to overwhelm me. I’m too happy.
Sanskaar : You can never be too happy, My Shona! I, for one, am going to make sure that as the days pass, You become more and more happy. After all, I love you, You know!
Swara (in a teasing voice) : I suspected that you loved me. But… (at his sulking look, she stopped) Of course I know you love me. Just as I know I’ll always love you! You’re my man!
She hugged him, then slowly he pressed his lips on hers. They kissed gently, then more intensely until they had to come up gasping for breath.
Swara : I think… I think I won’t be scared of the rain anymore. I don’t think I’ll fear it.
Sanskaar (encouraging smile) : I don’t think you will, either.
Swara : But incase I don’t, You’ll be here?
Sanskaar (reaching out to hug her again) : Of Course I will. Where else would I be?
She smiled, closed the window and switched on the air conditioner.
Sanskaar : Vaise, Let’s talk about something else. (at her questioning look) Like…. Our kids?
She blushed slightly.
Swara : You want us to have kids? You think we’re ready for that?
Sanskaar : I know that you’ll be a fantastic mom, But you’ll have to teach me the ropes. All I know is I want a young Swara to play with.
Swara gave an ecstatic smile. She didn’t know Sanskaar would be so eager about kids.
Swara : Excuse me? I know you’ll be the best dad ever. I am not worried about that at all. But A young Swara? I want a chota Sanskaar…
Sanskaar : No, Swara!
Swara (pouting) : No, Sanskaar!
Sanskaar : Swara! I want a young Swara!
Swara : SANSKAAR! I want a chota Sanskaar!
Sanskaar (scowling) : Swara…
They stood there scowling at each other for a moment before bursting out in laughter.
Swara : Why don’t we have this conversation when we actually have a reason to celebrate?
Sanskaar : Sensible idea! I like it. (he gave a mischevious grin) But I’ll win in the end.
Swara (narrowing her eyes) : Is that a challenge, Mr Maheshwari?
Sanskaar ( with a haughty gaze) : So what if it is?
Swara : You do realize that I won most of the challenges so far?
Sanskaar (in an airy voice) : That’ll change when I hold my daughter in my arms.
Swara sighed happily. She could have gone on but she was so happy. They were talking about kids, Her fear was gone, or so she hoped and above all, She had her family who loved her. Nothing could be better in life.
Sanskaar (suddenly changing his tone to a husky seductive timbre) : Why don’t we begin preparing for our daughter right now?
He carried a surprised yet ecstatic Swara to the bed and she changed her mind.
Things would always get better in life as long as Sanskaar was with her.
PRECAP : More about Saanvi
Hey guys, So the reason is out finally…
Hope you like it… And I didn’t ruin it. 🙂 🙂 Will be back soon with the next chapter…