SWASAN – SHE’S NOT FOR ME
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
ALL CHAPTER LINKS :
All Parts here
CHAPTER 9 LINK :
Swara talks to Sharmishta
Sanskaar was in a foul mood.
There was something rather satisfying about it, so he decided to indulge his completely.
He kicked a pebble all the way home.
He snarled at anyone who nudged him on the street.
He yanked open his front door with such ferocity that it slammed into the stone wall behind it. Or rather he would have done, if Deepu Kaka hadn’t been so on his toes and had the door open before Sanskaar’s fingers could even touch the handle.
But he thought about slamming it open, which provided some satisfaction in and of itself.
And then he stomped up the stairs to his room—which still felt too bl**dy much like Laksh’s room, not that there was anything he could do about that just then—and sat down to remove his shoes.
He began unlacing them when he stopped and stared at them. These weren’t his shoes.
Sanskaar frowned and looked at them properly. No, These weren’t his at all. They were perfect for him but whose were they?
With a sinking heart, he realised who they belonged to.
Sanskaar (shouting) : Deepu Kaka! Anybody?
A servant entered the room with a terrified expression, looked at the expression on Sanskaar’s face and then ran away. Within minutes, Deepu Kaka had appeared.
Deepu : Haan Sanskaar beta?
Sanskaar : Kaka! Who do these belong to? (gesturing to the shoes)
Deepu Kaka : Laksh…
Sanskaar (cutting him off, in a whisper) : Why am I wearing his shoes?
Deepu Kaka : Your luggage is not completely unpacked yet baba. So I thought….I remembered that the two of you were of a size, and I thought you’d want—
Sanskaar closed his eyes and leaned back against the bed— Laksh’s bed—marveling at the irony of it. His worst nightmare coming true, in the most literal of fashions.
Sanskaar (removing the shoes) : Just take them.
He pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger and let out a long breath before speaking again.
Sanskaar (wearily) : I really don’t want to use any of Laksh’s possessions Kaka! Do you understand? Are all his things still here?
When Deepu kaka replied in the affirmative, he just nodded and closed his eyes.
Truly, he had no idea why Laksh’s clothing was still here; the lot of it should have been given to the servants or donated to charity years ago. But he supposed that was Swara’s decision to make, not his.
Deepu Kaka : Shall I have them thrown away.
Sanskaar (exasperated) : Thrown away? What’s wrong with you.. It’s not contagious. Leave everything as it is. Just don’t use any of it for me.
Deepu Kaka shifted nervously. Sanskaar stared at him before asking him what the matter was.
Deepu Kaka (gesturing towards the room) : Laksh baba’s clothes are still in this room. In the cupboards.
Sanskaar sagged in his chair. It wasn’t that he wanted to wipe every last reminder of his cousin off the face of this earth; no one missed Laksh as much as he did, no one.
Well, except maybe Swara, he allowed, but that was different.
But he just didn’t know how he was meant to lead his life so completely and smotheringly surrounded by Laksh’s belongings. He held his title, spent his money, lived in his house. Was he meant to wear his damned shoes as well?
His throat and head bothering him, he waved the man away.
Sanskaar : Deepu Kaka! Please pack them up and then ask Swara what she would like to do with them. Never use any of it for me under any circumstances. But do all this tomorrow. And don’t forget to tell Swara.
He sighed, rising to his feet once Deepu Kaka left the room leaving the shoes inside. Sanskaar picked them up and deposited them outside the door. He was probably overreacting, but hell, he just didn’t want to stare at Laksh’s boots for the next six hours.
After shutting the door with a decisive click, he padded aimlessly over to the window. The sill was wide and deep, and he leaned heavily against it, gazing through the sheer curtains at the blurry streets below. He pushed the thin fabric aside, his lips twisting into a bitter smile as he watched a nanny tugging a small child along the pavement.
Swara. She wanted a baby.
He didn’t know why he was so surprised. If he thought about it rationally, he really shouldn’t have been. She was a woman, for God’s sake; of course she’d want children. Didn’t they all? It was a bti chauvinistic of him to think that way but Swara still wanted a baby. And while he’d never consciously sat down and told himself that she’d pine away for Laksh forever, he’d also never considered the idea that she might actually care to remarry one day.
Swara and Laksh. Laksh and Swara. They were a unit, or at least they had been, and although Laksh’s death had made it sadly easy to envision one without the other, it was quite something else entirely to think of one with another.
And then of course there was the small matter of his skin crawling, which was his general reaction to the thought of Swara with another man.
He shuddered. Or was that a shiver? Damn, he hoped it wasn’t a shiver.
He supposed he was simply going to have to get used to the notion. If Swara wanted children, then Swara needed a husband, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. It would have been rather nice, he supposed, if she had come to this decision and taken care of the whole odious matter last year, sparing him the nausea of having to witness the entire event unfold. If she’d just gone and gotten herself married last year, then it would have been over and done with, and that would have been that.
End of story.
But now he was going to have to watch.
He cleared his throat but all that came out was a croak. His head was throbbing and he felt hot… No cold.. He felt sick.
Damn. Maybe he was just cold. It was March, after all, and a chilly one at that, even though the house had been warmed up.
He shrugged out of his jacket and wobbled back into bed. He felt like the very devil, all hot and cold, and queerly off balance.
He sat down. It seemed the best course of action.
And then he just gave up all pretense of being well, removed his shirt and socks and sank into the bed.
It was going to be a long night.
SOME TIME LATER
Mishti : Swara! I thought Sanskaar was supposed to come for dinner today at 8? It was today, right?
Swara looked up at her mother, who was standing before her with concerned eyes. She had been thinking the exact same thing, actually, wondering what was keeping him.
She’d spent the better part of the day dreading his arrival, even though he had absolutely no idea that she had been so distressed by that moment in the park. Good heavens, he probably didn’t even realize there had been a “moment.”
It was the first time in her life that Swara was thankful for the general obtuseness of men.
Swara : He said he would be here. I confirmed it with him before I came back from our walk.
She was quite certain of the exchange; she clearly recalled feeling rather sick in her stomach when they had spoken of it. She hadn’t wanted to see him again—not so quickly, anyway—but what could she do? Her mother had issued the invitation.
She was sitting in the living room with her mother, Ragini and her cousin Uttara who had unexpectedly arrived for a few weeks.
Uttara : He’s probably just late Mishti Ma! Aren’t they always?
Swara turned on her sharply.
Swara : What do you mean?
Uttara : I’ve heard all about his reputation.
Swara (annoyed) : What has his reputation to do with anything? And how would you qualify as an expert? You and Sanskaar have barely spoken. I don’t even think you’ve met that often, except for my wedding and few functions.
Uttara (shrugging carelessly) : People still speak of him. Everyone missed the ” Charming Casanova”.
Swara (sharply) : So he may be. But he was and is always punctual.
She huffed angrily. She never could accept others speaking ill of Sanskaar. She might sigh and moan and count his many faults, but it was entirely unacceptable that her sister, whose knowledge of Sanskaar was based entirely on rumours and false information, would make such a sweeping judgment.
Swara : Also, He loves and respects Ma! He would never be late for a dinner here.
Uttara : And his respect for you?
Swara (seeing Uttara’s smirk) : He…
No, she wasn’t going to do this. She wasn’t going to sit here and get into an argument with her younger sister, not when something might actually be wrong. Sanskaar was, for all his wicked ways, faultlessly polite and considerate to the bone, or at least he had always been so in her presence.
And he would never have arrived for supper—she glanced up at the mantel clock—over thirty minutes late. Not, at least, without sending word.
Swara (standing up) : I’m going to Maheshwari Mansion.
Mishti (eyebrows raised) : Alone?
Swara (defensively) : Why not? It is still my home. I hardly think that tongues will wag if I stop by for a quick visit.
Mishti (nodding) : But don’t stay too long beta…
Swara (slightly exasperated) : Ma, I am a widow. And I do not plan to spend the night. I merely want to make sure
Sanskaar’s fine. I shall be just fine, I assure you.
Sharmishta nodded, but from her expression, Swara could see that she would have liked to have said more. It had been like this for years— Mishti wanted to resume her role of mother hen to her young widowed daughter, but she held back, attempting to respect her independence.
She didn’t always manage to resist interfering, but she tried, and Swara was grateful for the effort.
Uttara : Do you think I can come with you?
Swara (surprise making her voice harsh) : No! Why do you want to?
Uttara : Curiosity… I want to meet him.. The Charming Casanova!
Ragini (rolling her eyes) : You have met him.
Uttara : Yes.. But it’s different now. He hasn’t been here for 4 years. Is he different? Or is he still a flirt? I’m just curious.
Swara (really annoyed now) : He is a kind and responsible man. Don’t make him out to be something less than he is, Utts.
Uttara (surprised) : Of course Di! I just meant…
Swara (nodding curtly) : I have to go now. Bye..
Ragini shook her head at Uttara.
Ragini : Calm down. I know you didn’t mean anything like that. Swara’s just worried. Let her go check on him and come back.
Swara heard these words as she left the room to call the driver.
The streets were not crowded since it wasn’t peak hour and she reached the house in fifteen minutes. Walking in, She questioned a footman.
Swara : Is Saab home?
Swara realised, with a small jolt of surprise that it was the first time she had referred to Sanskaar as such. It was strange, she realized, and good, really, how naturally it had come to her lips. It was probably past time that they all grew used to the change. He was the owner now, and he’d never be plain Sanskaar Bhaiya again.
The footman replied that he wasn’t sure and Swara dismissed him frowning. If he was indeed at home, he must be upstairs; if he were down in his office, the footman would have noticed his presence.
She walked up to the second floor and went in the direction of the main bedroom.
Swara ( standing in front of the door) : Sanskaar? (knocking gently) Sanskaar?
There was no response, so she moved closer to his door, which she noticed was not quite all the way closed.
Swara(softly) : Sanskaar (slightly louder) Sanskaar?
It wouldn’t do to bellow his name through the house. Besides, if he was sleeping, she didn’t wish to wake him. He was probably still tired from his long journey and had been too proud to indicate as such when Ma had invited him to supper.
Still nothing, so she pushed the door open a few additional inches.
Swara : Sanskaar?
She heard something. A rustle, maybe. Maybe a groan.
Swara : Sanskaar?
Sanskaar : Swara?
It was definitely his voice, but it wasn’t like anything she’d ever heard from his lips.
She rushed in to find him huddled in his bed, looking quite as sick as she’d ever seen another human being. Laksh, of course, had never been sick. He’d merely gone to bed one evening and woken up dead.
Swara : What the hell is wrong with you?
Sanskaar (croaking) : I don’t know. Probably a head cold.
Swara looked down at him with dubious eyes. His dark hair was plastered to his forehead, his skin was flushed and mottled, and the level of heat radiating from the bed quite took her breath away.
Not to mention that he smelled sick. It was that awful, sweaty, slightly putrid smell, the sort that, if it had a color, would surely be an ugly green that reminded you of puke. Swara reached out and touched his forehead, recoiling instantly at the heat of it.
Swara (shaking her head) : This is not a head cold.
Sanskaar : Maybe it’s a really bad one.
Swara (exasperated) : Sanskaar Ram Maheshwari.
Sanskaar (whispering) : You sound like my mother.
She didn’t particularly feel like his mother, especially not after what had happened in the park, and it was almost a bit of a relief to see him so feeble and unattractive. It took the edge off whatever it was she’d been feeling earlier that afternoon.
Swara : Sanskaar! Why haven’t you called for the doctor?
Sanskaar managed to raise an eyebrow, though he looked that movement hurt him.
Sanskaar (stammering) : You really think I can talk to anyone in this state. I can barely move.
Swara (her face pale) : Wait! I’ll summon the doctor.
Sanskaar (jokingly) : I’ll be right here.
Swara smiled half-heartedly and quickly ran outside to call the doctor. When she came in, Sanskaar had settled into a restless sleep. He kept moving but it seemed to be hurting him.
Swaraa kept a hand on his forehead, but drew it back immediately. He was scorching. At the same time, He seemed to be shivering.
Sanskaar (mumbling while he was asleep) : Swa…ra! Go…. home…. You’ll… get… ill too.
Swara had stiffened at the mention of her name, but then settled down in a chair as she waited for the doctor.
She was terrified. Losing Laksh was bad enough, But to see Sanskaar ill like this made her go mad with worry. She couldn’t lose him too. Maybe it was just a fever, but it did nothing to assauge her feelings. She needed Sanskaar. She needed him to be alright.
He was Sanskaar. He was… well, it seemed difficult precisely to define what he was to her, but they had an unbreakable bond, they two, and it seemed that four years and thousands of miles had done little to diminish it.
Swara (whispering, breaking a little) : Please Sanskaar! I need you to be alright.
The doctor came and diagnosed it a case of dengue fever. Swara had gone stark white at that, but he assured her that Sanskaar would be alright. He didn’t have to go to the hospital but he needed to rest for several days. Also, He had to take the proper medication.
Swara nodded slightly mollified. She had warned all the servants to keep quiet as they did their work. She knew that they wouldn’t gossip about this to other households. She could trust them.
After an hour, Sanskaar settled into a deep sleep and though it wasn’t as peaceful as she would have liked, He did look slightly better.
She felt herself sag with relief, and she had to sit down. She couldn’t imagine a world without him. Even while he’d been gone, she’d always known he was there, sharing the same planet with her, walking the same earth. And even in those early days following Laksh’s death, when she’d hated him for leaving her, even when she’d been so angry with him that she wanted to cry—she had taken some comfort in the knowledge that he was alive and well, and would return to her in an instant, if ever she asked it of him.
He was here. He was alive. And with Laksh gone… Well, she didn’t know how anyone could expect her to lose them both.
She looked at him now and wondered what she could do to help him.
She had to do something. She wasn’t self-hating enough to think that there had been anything she could have done to prevent Laksh’s death—even in the worst of her grief she hadn’t gone down that road—but she had always hated that the whole thing had happened in her absence. It was, in truth, the one momentous thing John had ever done without her. And even if Sanskaar was only sick, and not dying, she was not going to allow him to suffer alone.
She got a blanket from her room and covered him with it.
Sanskaar (sleepily) : Thank you!
Swara (startled) : I thought you were sleeping. I’m sorry.
Sanskaar shook his head, or did a sort of wobble that she took to mean a no.
Sanskaar : I woke up just now. Could I have some water please?
Swara : Of course!
She got a glass of hot water and held it while he drank from it.
Swara : How could you get sick like this? How could you do this to me?
Sanskaar (incredulous) : I’m sick, not dead.
Swara shook her head.
Swara: That’s so not funny.
Sanskaar : Of course it is Swara! We need to take our laughs where we can. It’s the only way we’ll be able to get through this. Besides, If I died, The company will go to… As Badi Ma says… Bade Papa’s second cousin..
Swara : The awful Bannerjee Mama.
She smiled. He could always make her smile.
She reached out and took his hand.
Swara (whispering and stroking his hair) : We will get through this.
Sanskaar smiled. He nodded, and then he closed his eyes.
But just when she thought he was asleep, he opened his eyes.
Sanskaar (whispering in a way that she couldn’t hear) : I feel better with you here.
PRECAP : Sanskaar’s recovery
Not being a bio student and as I don’t have the slightest interest in bio.. i don’t know any symptoms of dengue fever and all. Just used the stuff which i felt was horrible. If i’m wrong, please excuse me.