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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 7 LINK :
Swara Sanskaar conversation
The next morning, Sanskaar woke up all refreshed and entered the dining hall. To his surprise, the house was already cleaned and felt airy. The electric fires were switched on in every room and the house felt cozy.
He saw breakfast already on the table and proceeded to fill his plate with some fruit and parathas. He found that he missed his french breakfast of croissants and toast.
Swara, however, was nowhere to be found.
When he inquired after her, He was informed that she had left for Baadi because it wouldn’t be proper of her to stay here when just the two of them were there.
So she had removed herself to her mother’s house at Baadi where Sharmishta aunty stayed with Ragini who was still unmarried, until either Badi Ma or Mom arrived down from Parna. She did, however, ask him to come to Baadi, as she was certain they had much to discuss.
Sanskaar supposed she was right, so once he’d finished with his breakfast, he stepped outside and made his way there.
He decided to walk; it wasn’t very far, and the exercise would warm him up. But mostly, he just wanted to take in the cityscape, to remind himself of the rhythms of Kolkata. He’d never noticed the particular smells and sounds of the city before, how the horn of the taxis or the frenzied noise at the marker combined with the festive shout of the flower seller and low rumble of cultured voices. There was the sound of his feet on the pavement, and smell of roasting nuts, and the vague heft of soot in the air, all combining to make something that was uniquely Kokata.
It was almost overpowering, which was strange, because he remembered feeling precisely the same way upon landing in France four years earlier.
Had he become a stranger in his own land? It seemed almost bizarre, and yet, as he walked along the crowded streets of Kolkata, he couldn’t help but think that he stood out, that anyone glancing upon him must instantly know that he was different, removed from their very Indian existence.
Maybe it was just the stiff posture he had assumed now.
He stared at a shop window and saw a tall, fit man staring back with unwavering eyes. He supposed he was thinner now than 4 years earlier. His mother was going to be scandalised.
The thought of it made him grin. He rather enjoyed scandalizing his mother. He’d never be so grown up that that ceased to be fun.
He could imagine her saying, ” Sanskaar! You’ve become so thin. Why didn’t you eat anything. Jiji, How will we get him married now? ”
He chuckled to himself. Yes. It was definitely going to be fun teasing his mother.
He turned toward the street that would take him to his destination. He’d been there before, of course. Swara’s mother had always defined the word “family” in the widest of all possible manners, so Michael had found himself invited along with Laksh and Swara to any number of Maheshwari family events.
When he arrived, Sharmista aunty was already in the green-and-cream drawing room, taking a cup of tea.
Sharmishta : Sanskaar beta! It’s so lovely to see you after so long. How have you been?
She got up and caressed his hair with obvious affection.
Sanskaar (hugging her) : I’m well, Mishti aunty! How are you?
Mishti : Missing you a lot. No one here appreciates me like you do.
They chuckled, well aware that she was joking. Adarsh, Sahil, Swara and Ragini doted on their mother. Sanskaar continued the charade though.
Sanskaar (a slight devilish twinkle in his eye) : I know aunty, I should have taken you with me to Paris. You would stand out there like a diamond.
Mishti (laughing) : Oh! Of course I would stand out when you have company as I’m of a certain age, not applicable to your group.
Sanskaar : The age being 30, Mishti aunty?
Sharmishta was the sort of woman who grew lovelier with age, but the smile she gave him made her positively radiant.
Mishti : Sanskaar Maheshwari! You are my favourite from now on.
He grinned and sat in a high-backed chair when she motioned for him to do so.
Mishti : So how are you? It’s been 4 years since I’ve seen you. How’s work treating you?
Sanskaar found it weird to hear her ask him about work. In Paris, no one had known him for the useless bounder he had been, not taking any responsibilities and all. But she had known. Yet she asked him casually now about work like he had always been part of the company.
Sanskaar : It’s thriving. (giving a devilish smile ) So Mishti aunty, what happened with Mr Das?
She laughed. Sanskaar was always teasing her with someone or the other. None of it was true and it was wicked of him, yet it touched her heart. Her children felt a bit awkward when it came to their mother’s personal life, but Sanskaar seemed to understand that she was a woman with feelings as well. Shekar would always remain in her heart but she didn’t mind harmless teasing. So putting on a sad face, she replied.
Mishti : Kuch bhi nahi. I tried so much too.
Sanskaar : Don’t worry. There’ll be a next time. After all, who could resist a beautiful woman like you?
She smiled and then asked him if he would like tea. When he nodded, she rang for someone to go bring them 2 cups of tea.
Sanskaar : The one thing I missed about India, Our tea. No one makes tea in France that well.
Mishti (chuckling) : The quality of the water, do you think?
The tea arrived and Sharmishta began adding milk and sugar to it, before handing him a cup.
Sanskaar : Not the water…. The quality of the woman pouring.
Mishti (laughing) : I think I had better inform your mothers to begin searching for a wife for you.
Sanskaar : Really? Why?
Mishti : Because you’re so charming, you are clearly a danger to unmarried women everywhere.
Sanskaar : Accha? And then what will happen to you?
And then a voice from the door.
Swara : Sanskaar Maheshwari! Are you flirting with my mother?
Impeccably turned out in a dull grey kurti and black tights, she looked as if she were very much trying to be stern with him.
And not entirely succeeding.
Sanskaar allowed his lips to curve into a mysterious smile as he watched he watched her sit down next to her mother.
Sanskaar : I have seen many women, Swara, and not one of them hold a candle to your mother.
Sharmishta beamed at him before turning to her daughter.
Mishti : See? This is why he’s my favourite. And Sanskaar, You’re coming here for dinner tonight. No excuses.
Flashing them a grin, he gracefully accepted the invitation. Swara rolled her eyes.
Swara : You are really incorrigible.
He just flashed her a lanky grin. This was good, he decided. The morning was proceeding exactly as he’d hoped, with he and Swara falling into their old roles and habits. He was once again the reckless charmer and she was pretending to scold him, and all was as it had been back before Laksh had died.
He’d been surprised last night. He hadn’t expected to see her. And he hadn’t been able to make sure that his public persona was firmly in place.
And it wasn’t as if it all was an act. He’d always been a bit reckless, and he probably was an irredeemable flirt. His mother certainly liked to say that he’d been charming the ladies since the age of four.
It was just that when he was with Swara it was vitally important that that aspect of his personality remained at the forefront, so that she never suspected what lay underneath.
Mishti : So what do you think you’ll do now?
Michael turned to her with what he knew had to be a blank expression, then coloured slightly as he realized he had no idea.
Sanskaar : I’m not too sure. I probably will learn about the company and the estates in Parna, Mumbai and Shimla.
Swara : Don’t forget the land in Chennai and the new office in Bangalore.
Mishti : Of course, Swara can help you immensely in that quarter. No one knows about the Maheshwari company and estates as Swara does.
Sanskaar : That’s for sure. She has been the CEO’s wife for two years and then she took the mantle of interim CEO. Frankly, I think she should be in charge of the company while I do something else.
The two women stared at him in surprise.
Sanskaar (seeing their looks) : Come on Swara! You know it’s true. You know far more about the company than me. Everyone knows you. You would be excellent. The company belongs to you more than me.
Swara shook her head.
Swara : No Sanskaar! The company will thrive under your leadership. You will reach great heights. I am sure of this. Besides, Laksh wanted you to have it.
Sanskaar nodded slightly acknowledging her statement.
Sanskaar : Then I’m going to keep disturbing you for advice and instructions. You were incredible these 4 years.
Swara actually blushed, which surprised him. In all the years he’d known her, he could count on one hand the times he had seen her cheeks go pink. She thanked her and then poured another cup of tea for him.
He lifted his teacup to his lips, allowing the ladies to direct the conversation from there.
Which they did. Mishti aunty asked him about his time in France, and before he knew it he was telling them of his experience there He left out the night clubs and other amorous activities, deciding they weren’t quite the thing for a drawing-room conversation.
After a while he realized that he was enjoying himseli immensely. Maybe, he thought, reflecting on the moment as Mishti aunty said something about an French themed event she’d attended the year before, just maybe he’d made the right decision.
It might actually be good to be home.
An hour later, Swara and Sanskaar had come out for a stroll along the river.
The sun had broken through the clouds, and when she had declared that she could not resist the fine weather, Sanskaar had had no choice but to offer to accompany her for a walk.
Swara : This is marvellous (motioning towards the sun and its warmth) It feels just like old times.
Sanskaar : You mean the way in which you managed to coerce me into walking with you?
Swara tried to keep a straight face.
Swara : Well, I had to do something to make sure you acted like a gentleman. Besides, We went on walks all the time when Laksh couldn’t come.
Sanskaar : Yes, I did.
They walked quietly for a few minutes before Sanskaar broke the silence.
Sanskaar : You want me to stay somewhere else, Swara? After all, Maheshwari Mansion is yours as much as mine.
Swara : Not at all. It’s your house. I do not like staying in Baadi that much anymore… (giving a wry grin) Makes me feel like I’m 13 again with Ragini and the others teasing me. But Ma and Chachi will be here soon.
Sanskaar : Chill Swara! You will endure.
She gave him a ‘look’.
Swara : I really prefer having a status as a married woman. Unmarried women do not get that much freedom in this society. (sighing) Even now.
Sanskaar : That’s true. For instance, I don’t think I’ll be allowed to walk like this with you.
Swara : Certainly not. Especially you.
Sanskaar : And just what is that supposed to mean?
Swara : Surely you don’t think that people have forgotten you? Your reputation precedes you.
Sanskaar : Swara….
Swara : You’re infamous here in town.
He stared at her, horrified.
Swara wondered why he was so surprised.
Swara : Women love talking about you.
Sanskaar : Not to you, I hope.
Swara (grinning wickedly) : Ofcourse to me. I think, they talk to me more than anyone. They all want to know when you plan to return. And it’s sure to be worse once word gets out that you’re back. I must say, it’s rather an odd role—confidante to Kolkata’s most eligible and notorious bachelor.
Sanskaar (his eyebrow raised) : Confidante?
Swara : Another word, if you like.
Sanskaar : That’s not the issue here. You think I’ve “confided” everything to you?
Swara shot him a cross expression. This was so like him, letting his words trail off meaningfully, leaving her imagination feverish with questions.
As she threw him a questioning look, He just smiled. Devilishly.
Swara : You’re a scoundrel. But moving to proper topics, What do you plan to do now? Besides take over the company (at his protest) which I am happy to leave to you. I was thinking of taking some time off anyways.
He nodded and she continued.
Swara : We need to find a wife for you as well.
Sanskaar (a bit peeved) : Are you going to be my matchmaker then?
Swara (shrugging) : I’ll be better at it than you.
Sanskaar (looking up towards heaven) : Oh God! I’ve been back one day and already my marriage has been mentioned twice. Do we need to address this now?
Swara : Of course not, Sanskaar! But it had better be soon discussed.
Sanskaar was slightly amused but a large part of him was shocked.
Sanskaar : I don’t think anyone has ever spoken to me like that.
Swara (smiling sweetly) : What about your mother?
Sanskaar : YOU… are not my mother.
Swara : Thankfully no, I’m not. God only knows how I would have managed.
Sanskaar stopped in his tracks.
Sanskaar (offended) : I’m not tha bad.
Swara (innocently) : You aren’t?
And he was speechless. Absolutely speechless. It was a conversation they’d had countless times, but something was different now. There was an edge to her voice, a jab to her words that had never quite been there before.
Or maybe it was just that he’d never noticed it.
Swara : Oh, don’t look so shocked! Of course you have a terrible reputation. But you are endlessly charming, and so you are always forgiven.
Was this how she saw him, he wondered. And why was he surprised? It was exactly the image he’d cultivated.
Swara : Now that you are both handsome and with a fortune, You’re going to be the darling of everyone. Men will seek your approval, Older women will want their daughters to marry you. Younger women will want you for themselves. You know, you should be glad I told my mother not to ask you to marry Ragini.
Sanskaar : Didn’t you suggest the same thing to me?
Swara (shrugging again and smiling) : Well yes, I did! But then I realised you wouldn’t suit each other. Maybe Uttara?
Sanskaar : You mean your cousin? The girl we met during the birthday celebration?
Swara (in a pleased voice) : Yes, her. I’m really glad you remember her. She’s really a sweetheart, you know…..
Sanskar had had enough. Until now it might have been amusing, but not anymore.
Sanskaar (holding her elbow, speaking with warning) : YOU are not going to be my matchmaker, You understand?
Swara : But some…
Sanskaar : AND do not tell someone has to.
Really, she was the same open book she’d been years ago. She’d always wanted to manage his life.
Swara : But Sanskaar…
He was amazed at the amount of frustration and suffering she managed to put in those 2 words.
Sanskaar : I’ve been here a day. I’ve not even unpacked my clothes and would like some time to get back into schedule.
Swara : But Sanskaar… (At his glare) Well, Alright! But don’t you dare say I didn’t warn you. Once you are out and about, You will have young women fawning over you while their mothers make sure that you don’t escape them. And then, when they come for the kill—- you will be begging for my help.
She had on an annoyingly satisfied expression on her face. Sanskaar gave an inward shudder. He knew that Swara was right. But he gave her a condescending grin.
Sanskaar : You are absolutely right. And when that happens, I promise you that I shall be duly at your feet with regretful-ness, atonement, shamefacedness, and any other unpleasant emotion you care to assign to me.
And then she laughed, which warmed his heart far more than he should have let it. He could always make her laugh.
She turned to him and smiled, then patted his arm.
Swara : Oh Sanskaar! It’s good to have you back.
Sanskaar : It’s good to be back.
He’d said the words automatically, but he realized he’d meant them. It was good. Difficult, but good. But even difficult wasn’t worth complaining over. It was certainly nothing he wasn’t used to.
They walked some more until they reached a point where they could see children throwing some bread and biscuits for the ducks in the water. Swara stopped and stared at them.
Sanskaar led them both to a bench and they sat down. He gazed around idly. This wasn’t somewhere he liked to come often because it was always crowded with children and their screaming, their tantrums. He usually stuck to another part of the river. But Swara seemed content to sit here.
He looked at her. This was the first time he could observe her properly. She had lost some weight but she looked mostly happy, he thought. A bit sad perhaps but there was longing in her expression as well.
Then he realized that her eyes were fixed off in the distance. She was watching something, but for the life of him he couldn’t imagine what. There was nothing interesting in front of them, just a small mother pushing a pram and some children playing catch.
Sanskaar : What are you looking at?
She said nothing, just continued to stare.
Sanskaar : Swara?
She turned to him, and he was struck by how perfect she was. He stared at her without blinking until she spoke.
Swara : I want a baby.
PRECAP : More SWASAN 😀
Hey guys, Sorry… I couldn’t reply to ur comments in the prev chapter.. had exams going on…
Now they’re done and as soon as I finish mmai, I’ll be concentrating on this.
I know this chapter is a bit drab… But it’s necessary for the next few chappies.. So what do you think?