SWASAN – SHE’S NOT FOR ME
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
Swara takes care of Sanskaar
MARCH 28th – BAADI
SHARMISHTA’S BIRTHDAY GALA
A guest : Is he here yet?
Swara (patiently) : Not yet. But he should be here soon.
The guest : Are you sure?
Swara : Of course Aunty. He’ll be here.
The guest (in a persistent voice) : Do you know when he’ll come here?
Swara : I’m not too sure.
The guest : Well, Alright dear! I see my daughter there. I’ll go get her ready for Sanskaar so that he sees her when he gets here.
Swara rolled her eyes as she watched the lady walk over to her daughter and smoothen her salwar and moving the hair away from her face.
The conversation would have been amusing if it hadn’t been the seventh—no eighth, mustn’t forget her own mother—time she had been subjected to it. And the conversation was always the same, truly down to the very word, save for the fact that not everyone knew her well enough to use her name. They just called her beta or such.
Once her mother had let it be known that the elusive CEO of Maheshwari Industries would be making his reappearance at her birthday party—Well, Swara was quite sure she would never be safe from interrogation again, at least not from anyone with any attachment to an unmarried female.
Sanskaar was the catch of the year, and he hadn’t even shown up yet.
Just then a voice saying Mrs Maheshwari made Swara turn and face Mrs Bhat, Her Dida’s old friend who was surprisingly energetic for her age.
Swara : Mrs Bhat! You can call me Swara. Why the formality?
Mrs Bhat : I prefer calling them this way. Keeps them on their toes.
Swara (amused) : How does it do that?
Mrs Bhat (letting out a snort) : Just look at our society. Mrs Mehta there is having an affair with Mr Sinha and his wife Mrs Sinha is sleeping with Mr Jaideep. Then Mrs Jaideep here…
Swara (sounding horrified yet fascinated) : Mrs Bhat! Someone may hear you.
Mrs Bhat (dismissively) : One doesn’t get to the age of 90 and still cower under society. It’s called freedom of speech.
Swara (doubtfully) : True as it sounds, I don’t think you’re that old.
Mrs Bhat (chuckling) : Ah! I knew there was a reason I liked you. You’re a smart egg. Now where’s that CEO of yours?
Swara (confused) : Egg? He’s not my CEO, by the way.
Mrs Bhat : He’s more yours than anyone else’s here.
That much was probably true, although Swara wasn’t about to confirm it with the lady.
Swara : I don’t think Mr Maheshwari would like to be referred to anyone’s. He’s his own person.
Mrs Bhat : Mr Maheshwari? I thought you both would be less formal than that.
Swara : We are. We are good friends. No, Make that great friends. He was Laksh’s brother. Laksh’s best friend.
Mrs Bhat looked slightly crestfallen at Swara’s description of her relationship with Sanskaar. Swara was puzzled. Why would she care about her relationship with Sanskaar? Swara decided that it was just the mind of an old gossip and opened her mouth to say something else when she spied three more women coming towards her looking determined.
Good God, Time to escape. Now. Swara quickly turned on her heel and started walking toward her sister Ragini, who was easy to spot by the bright green of her dress. In truth, she would have much rather bypassed Ragini entirely and headed straight out the door, but if she was serious about this marriage business, then she had to circulate and let it be known she was in the market for a new husband.
Not that anyone was likely to care one way or another until Sanskaar finally showed his face. Swara could have announced her plan to move to Africa and take up cannibalism, and all anyone would have asked her was when Sanskaar would come.
She joined the small group around her sister and smiled amiably. It was all family— Ragini was chatting amiably with their two sisters-in-law, Parineeta and Aparna.
Aparna : Hello Swara. Where’s…
Swara (growling) : Don’t you start!
Aparna (eyes growing wide) : What’s wrong?
Swara : If one more person asks me about Sanskaar, I shall chop off my head and offer it to the demons.
Parineeta : That would be an interesting event for sure.
Swara shot her a death glare.
Ragini : Where is he anyways?
Swara (sighing) : I have no idea. He said he would be here.
Aparna : Why don’t you try calling him?
Swara : I did. It’s switched off.
Parineeta (looking around) : If he’s smart, He’s probably hiding outside. Have you seen the ladies here?
Swara could easily see him bypassing the party entirely and ensconcing himself with some of his friends in some pub.
Away, in other words, from all females who would throw themselves at him.
Swara : You may be right. I’m going to kill him.
Aparna (soothingly) : He may just be late.
Swara (scowling) : I wish he’d just get here, so that people would stop asking me about him.
Ragini laughed. Swara glared at her.
Ragini : I’m sorry. But do you think that the questions will stop once he enters? It’ll change from “When will he come” to “Tell me more about him”.
Swara groaned, fearing that Ragini may be right.
Parineeta smiled in empathy, then blinked with surprise.
Parineeta : You’re wearing green.
Swara gazed down at her light green gown. It was elegantly simple, with a neckline adorned with a softly draped swath of lighter green silk. She felt like a princess in it, or if not a princess, then at the very least, not quite so much the untouchable widow.
Aparna : You’re planning to marry again?
Swara winced. Trust Aparna to get right to the point. But she couldn’t keep her plans a secret forever, not if she wanted to meet with any success, so all she did was nod.
For a moment no one spoke. And then of course, they spoke all at once, offering congratulations and advice and various other bits of nonsense that Swara wasn’t positive she wished to hear. But it was all said with the best and most loving of intentions, so she just smiled and nodded and accepted their good wishes.
Parineeta (smiling determinedly) : We will help you, Of course.
Swara (her eyes widening in alarm) : Excuse me?
Parineeta (nodding approvingly) : The change from your usual black or dark colours is a very good signal. But men are really stupid and won’t notice such things. So, We shall have to tell people that you’re ready for marriage disceetly.
Aparna (fondly) : I’m sure Sahil would notice me if I changed my hair colour to yellow.
Parineeta (rolling her eyes) : He’s your husband and he loves you. He’ll obviously… you know what… Forget that. Swara, If you wish for people to be aware that you are on the Marriage Mart, you shall have to make it quite clear. Or rather, we shall have to make it clear for you.
Swara (sagging against the wall) : Oh God… Don’t tell me you’re interfering.
Ragini : We shall ignore that. Trust us, Swara! We shall help you with our very best efforts.
Swara : Well! I certainly can’t stop you. (noticing their beatific smiles, groaning) God! could this evening get any worse?
Parineeta : Cheer up, Shona! I see Sanskaar.
Swara looked up. And sure enough, there he was. Standing on the other side of the room, looking sinfully elegant in his black tux. He was surrounded by women, which didn’t surprise Swara in the least. Half were the sorts who were pursuing him for marriage, either for themselves or their daughters.
The other half, Swara noted, were young and married, and clearly pursuing him for something else entirely.
The charming casanova had not lost his reputation.
Parineeta (sighing) : He’s not lost his looks at all. In fact, He just looks better.
Swara glared at her.
Aparna (agreeing with Parineeta) : He’s more rugged yet at the same time, hot. Just look at that hair.
Swara (scowling) : Don’t the two of you have husbands?
Parineeta (shrugging) : Doesn’t make us blind.
Ragini (eyes twinkling) : Being unmarried, Can I spout out his many virtues?
Swara (aghast) : You and Sanskaar? You’d never suit.
Aparna : Why is that?
Swara noticed that Ragini was listening closely for her answer as well.
Swara : Because he is a terrible flirt.
Ragini (dryly) : Really? You literally snapped at Uttara when she said the exact same thing.
Swara was exasperated. Trust Ragini and her memory.
Swara : That was different, Ragini. She didn’t know what she was talking about.
Parineeta : And you do?
Swara : Well, YES! Of course I do.
The four ladies fell silent at that, continuing their shameless perusal of Sanskaar and his companions. He leaned down and murmured something in one of their ears, causing the lady in question to titter and blush, hiding her mouth behind her hand.
Aparna : He is such a flirt.
He smiled at one of his companions then, a slow, liquid grin that caused even the spying women to sigh.
Swara : Good Lord! Don’t we have anything else to do?
The other three looked at each other and shook their heads.
Ragini : WE don’t. However you do.
Swara (surprised) : I?
Ragini : Yes! You should go talk to him.
Swara : Why on earth?
Ragini : Because he’s here.
Swara : So? I can talk to him any time. I need to find a husband out of these stupid men first.
Parineeta (chuckling) : I’m literally dying with the enthusiasm spouting from you.
Swara (ignoring her) : I have to find someone here. I don’t see how talking or dancing with Sanskaar will help me.
Ragini : I thought our purpose this evening was to wish Ma a happy birthday.
Swara glared at her. Swara would have given her life for Ragini, of course, and there was certainly no other woman who knew more of her secrets and inner thoughts, but half the time she could have happily strangled her sister.
Including right now. Especially right now.
Aparna : Swara! You have to go talk to him. You should go over and greet Sanskaar. It’s only polite, considering his long stay abroad.
Swara : He’s been back a week already. I have more than greeted him.
Aparna : Not in public. You know this society. The brother’s wife not talking to him? Rumours will spread. You have to show you respect him and welcome him. Unless you don’t…..
She looked quizzically at Swara.
Swara : That’s not true. I hold him in the highest esteem. But you’re right Aparna! I’ll go and talk to him.
Swara knew Aparna was right. She should go and greet Sanskaar. He deserved an official and public welcome back. She just didn’t relish fighting her way through his throng of admirers.
She’d always found Sanskaar’s reputation amusing. Probably because she felt rather removed from it all, above it, even. It had been a bit of an inside joke between the three of them—her, Laksh, and Sanskaar. He’d never taken any of the women seriously, and so she hadn’t, either.
But now she wasn’t watching from her comfortable, secure position as a happily married lady. And Sanskaar was no longer just a never-do-well who maintained his position in society through wit and charm.
He was a man with all sorts of possibilies, and she was a widow, and she suddenly felt rather small and powerless.
It wasn’t his fault, of course. She knew that, just as she knew… well, just as she knew that he’d make someone a terrible husband someday if he didn’t stop his casanova act. But somehow she couldn’t quite block her ire, if not with him then with the gaggle of giggling females around him.
Parineeta (softly) : Swara! Do you want us to accompany you?
Swara stared at her blankly then realised she had been wool-gathering.
Swara : Oh no! Don’t bother. I’ll go and talk to him.
She turned towards Sanskaar but something held her back. He was no longer the same Sanskaar she knew and she had no idea how to be with him. Not to mention the scads of women surrounding him.
She took two steps in his direction, then turned back to Parineeta, Aparna, and Ragini.
Swara : I shall see to him after I see to myself.
And with that, she turned to make her way to the ladies’ retiring room. If she was going to have to smile and be polite amidst Sanskaar’s simpering women, she might as well do it without feeling she was wrong-footed.
Ragini : Coward.
It took all of Swara’s willpower not to turn around and impale her sister with a scathing retort.
Well, that and the fact that she rather feared Ragini was right.
And it was mortifying to think that she might have turned coward over Sanskaar, of all people.
Sanskaar had spotted Swara the moment he’d entered. She was standing at the far side of the room, chatting with her sisters, wearing a green gown.
And he noticed the instant she left as well, exiting through the door in the left wall, presumably to go to the washroom room, which he knew was just down the hall.
Worst of all, he was quite certain he would be equally aware of her return, even though he was conversing with about a dozen other ladies, all of whom thought he was giving their little gathering his full attention.
It was like a sickness with him, a sixth sense. He couldn’t be in a room with Swara and not know where she was. It had been like this since the moment they’d met, and the only thing that made it bearable was that she hadn’t a clue.
It was one of the things he had most enjoyed about Paris. She wasn’t there; he never had to be aware of her. But she’d haunted him still. His dreams had had only her. Her smile. The raise of her eye brows. Her amused expression. They had followed him there and possessed him completely
It was hell, and usually worthy of a stiff drink.
But that was over, and now he was back in India, and he was surprised by how easy it was to fall into his old role as the devil-may-care charmer.
He turned back to the next woman who had caught him and inwardly rolled his eyes. She was like the tenth girl who had come onto him. He didn’t know what he was feeling about it yet.
He wasn’t quite sure if it was amusing or hell.
Amusing, he decided, for now at least. By next week he had no doubt it would be hell.
After another fifteen minutes of introductions, reintro-ductions, and only slightly veiled booty calls, he announced his intention to locate his hostess and excused himself from the crowd.
And then there she was. Swara. Halfway across the room, of course, which meant that he’d have to make his way through the punishing crowd if he wanted to speak with her. She looked breathtakingly lovely in the green gown, and he realized that for all her talk about buying herself a new wardrobe, this was the first he’d seen her out of her half-mourning colors.
Then it hit him again. She was finally out of mourning. She would remarry. She would laugh and flirt and wear blue and green and red and find a husband.
And it would probably all happen in the space of a month. Once she made clear her intention to remarry, the men would be beating down her door. How could anyone not want to marry her? She might not have been as youth-ful as the other women looking for husbands, but she had something the younger ones lacked—a sparkle, a vivacity, a gleam of intelligence in her eyes that brought something extra to her beauty.
She was still alone, standing in the doorway. Amazingly, no one else seemed to have noticed her entrance, so Sanskaar decided to brave the crowds and make his way to her.
But she saw him first, and although she did not exactly smile, her lips curved, and her eyes flashed with recognition, and as she walked to him, his breath caught.
It shouldn’t have surprised him. And yet it did. Every time he thought he knew everything about her, had unwillingly memorized every last detail, something inside her flickered and changed, and he felt himself falling anew.
He would never escape her, this woman. He would never escape her, and he could never have her.
Sanskaar (whispering) : She’s not for me. She’s not for me. She’s NOT for me.
PRECAP : Swasan convo
Sorry guys for the delay.. Wanted to wrap up mmai… Will be back soon.. Hope you like it..
Btw.. I took many phrases from the actual book. it’s one of my favourite scenes in the book so took it and replicated them here. So not all credit to me.. :* :*