SWASAN – SHE’S NOT FOR ME
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It had to be said. The thought of drinking oneself into oblivion was really satisfying.
Sanskaar sighed. He wished he could carry out on that thought as he slouched into the sofa and propped his ankle over his knee, watching Swara and Laksh across their drawing room, laughing and smiling, and making nauseating eyes at each other.
Sanskaar (muttering) : I will have a drink.
Laksh : What is that, Sanskaar?
Sanskaar cursed under his breath. Laksh’s hearing was superb as always.
Sanskaar (a forced smile on his lips) : Just thinking of having a drink.
He got up and went to the minibar in the Maheshwari Mansion and prepared himself a drink.
Maheshwari Mansion was in the heart of Kolkata, home to the owner of the CEO of the Maheshwari Group of Companies, Laksh Maheshwari and his wife, Swara Laksh Maheshwari. Sanskaar was Laksh’s cousin who although, very close to him, preferred to stay in his own house, a small distance away from Maheshwari Mansion.
Their fathers had passed away when Laksh and Sanskaar were very young. Their mothers Annapurna and Sujata raised them together after that. Though they both had done their MBA, Laksh took over all the companies and properties they owned while Sanskaar was happy to wile away his time and occasionally do some work.
Sanskaar returned back into the present as Swara began speaking.
Swara : Laksh! What shall we do for our second anniversary?
She moved across the room and began wiping a few showpieces on the mantelpiece.
Laksh : Whatever you want, Darling!
Swara turned to Sanskaar, her eyes, a piercing brown. He didn’t know how brown could be piercing, But they were for her.
Swara : Sanskaar?
Sanskaar looked at her. Her tone seemed to indicate that she had already called his name before.
Sanskaar : Yes? Sorry (sheepish smile) I wasn’t listening.
Swara : Any ideas from you?
Sanskaar : For?
Swara : For our anniversary!
Sanskaar chuckled bitterly inwards. If she had had a knife and stabbed him, It couldn’t have hurt any more. He shrugged off the feeling and gave a fake smile. After all, He was apallingly good at it.
Sanskaar : It’s not my anniversary!
Swara (smiling) : I know! I very well know who I married.
Sanskaar (under his breath) : I’m pretty sure you do.
Swara : I’m sorry! Did you say something?
Sanskaar : Just continue!
Swara (her lips settling into an annoyed smile) : Come on! I thought you could provide some good ideas because you’re so outgoing.
Sanskaar : Outgoing?
Swara : I was being polite.
Sanskaar knew that ofcourse. That was how the world saw him. The Charming Casanova – The man who could seduce an ice berg, if he wished. But he hated the mention of that side of him on her lips. It made him feel he wasn’t man enough for her.
And then he felt even worse, because it was probably true.
Swara : You disagree?
Sanskaar (raising an eyebrow) : That I’m outgoing? Ofcourse not! After all, I’m the Charming Casanova! A man without work, without property…
Laksh (interrupting) : Nonsense! You have property.
Sanskaar smiled. It was true. Laksh had given him enough property that it could have kept him well for his entire lifetime.
Sanskaar : True enough! But I am happy to leave that for your children.
Swara sighed softly and looked at her husband. Sanskaar knew what she was thinking. Laksh had given him that property so that Sanskaar wouldn’t feel useless. He could assume responsibility. He could have some sort of purpose in life.
Sanskaar growled, then spoke abruptly.
Sanskaar : Why don’t you go to Maheshwari House?
Swara (surprised) : In the country? We just came back from Mumbai yesterday.
Sanskaar : So? Maheshwari House will be perfect! You don’t like to stay in the city for long anyways. Plus both you and Laksh love it there with the gardens and the ponds.
Sanskaar stood, suddenly rather eager to depart. He shouldn’t have come over in any case.
Laksh (smiling) : Will you come?
Sanskaar (unable to keep the sharpness from his tone) : No!
As if he cared to witness their anniversary celebration. Truly, all it would do was remind him of what he could never have. Which would then remind him of the guilt. Or amplify it. Reminders were rather unnecessary; he lived with it every day.
Swara was not for him.
Sanskaar (careless voice) : I have lots to do here.
Swara (interested) : Yeah? Like what?
Sanskaar : Oh! For a life of aimlessness.
Swara stopped dusting. Oh God, she stood, and she was walking to him. This was the worst—when she actually touched him.
She laid her hand on his upper arm. Sanskaar did his best not to flinch.
Swara (softly) : I really wish you wouldn’t speak this way.
Sanskaar looked at Laksh, who although was reading a newspaper, was listening to each and every word that was being spoken.
Sanskaar : Swara! What is it you want me to do?
Swara (a bit taken aback at his unkind tone) : It is just that…. We care about you Sanskaar!
We. We. Not I, not Laksh. We. A subtle reminder that they were a unit. She didn’t mean it that way, Ofcourse. But Sanskaar’s mind received it that way only.
Sanskaar (thinking) : Why can’t this floor give way and swallow me up?
Sanskaar : I know Swara! And I care for you as well.
Swara : I know. You’re the best cousin I could have. And my best friend. I want you to be happy.
Her face suddenly brightened and Sanskaar groaned. Swara had come up with an idea.
Swara : You have to spend time with my sister.
Sanskaar (wary) : I’ve met your sister. I’ve met your brothers too. Adarsh, Sahil and Ragini!
Swara (irritated) : I don’t mean meeting her. I mean spending time with her.
Sanskaar (his patience wearing thin) : Swara! I’m not going to marry Ragini.
Swara (protesting) : I didn’t say you have to marry her… Just spend time with her. Take her out on a date, dance with her…
Sanskaar gave a look to Laksh, who nodded.
Laksh (quietly) : Swara!
His voice was gentle, but his meaning was clear. Stop.
Sanskaar could have kissed him for his interference. Laksh of course just thought that he was saving his cousin from needless feminine nagging; there was no way he could know the truth—that Sanskaar was trying to compute the level of guilt one might feel for being in love with one’s cousin’s wife and one’s wife’s sister.
Swara said no more, but changed the subject.
Swara : I need to go to the market. Will you come for a walk with me?
Laksh : I’m sorry, Darling! But I have a meeting in a few hours. But why don’t you go with Sanskaar?
Sanskaar : Isn’t it a bit late, though? Almost 8 in the night. Can’t you send a servant?
Swara : I could. But I’m feeling very restless. I think a walk outside will do me good.
She turned towards Sanskaar and smiled, his heart warming even further at that.
Swara : Will you come?
Sanskaar : Sure.
Everyone knew he was jobless. Besides, he couldn’t resist her. He knew he should stay away, knew he should never allow himself to be alone in her company. He would never act upon his desires, but truly, did he really need to subject himself to this sort of agony? He’d just end the day alone in bed.
But when she smiled at him he couldn’t say no. And he certainly wasn’t strong enough to deny himself an hour in her presence.
Because her presence was all he was ever going to get. There would never be a kiss, never a meaningful glance or touch.
All he could have was her smile and her company, and pathetic idiot that he was, he was willing to take it.
Sanskaar looked the other way as Swara whispered soft but loving words to her husband.
Laksh : Sanskaar, I’m sorry!
Sanskaar stared at him in surprise. Swara had gone upstairs to change probably.
Sanskaar : You’re sorry?
Laksh : About Swara! Her nagging, rather. You don’t need to get married yet. You’re still young.
Sanskaar : I’m older than you.
Laksh ( a crooked smile) : By a measly 2 months. Plus I met Swara!
He shrugged helplessly, as if that ought to be explanation enough. And of course it was.
Sanskaar : It’s fine, Laksh! I don’t mind her nagging.
Laksh (quietly) : You do. I can sense it.
Sanskaar knew that. Laksh could see it in his eyes. There was no one in the world who knew him better. If something was bothering him, Laksh would always be able to tell. The miracle was that Laksh didn’t realize why Sanskaar was distressed.
Sanskaar (changing the subject) : What time is your meeting today?
Laksh : 10pm. I think I’ll take a small nap before it.
Sanskaar (nodding) : With the Sharma Group right?
Laksh replied in the affirmative. Sanskaar looked at him thoughtful. Laksh took his job as CEO very seriously. If he had inherited the company, Would he have approached it the same way?
Probably not. But then again, it didn’t much matter, did it?
Sanskaar : You look pale and tired. Are you okay? You just don’t look like Lucky!
The brothers smiled.
Laksh : I have been feeling tired the whole day. A huge headache.
Sanskaar’s brow furrowed. Laksh didn’t look right at all. And he knew Lucky. Inside and out. Probably better than Swara did.
Sanskaar : Take an aspirin?
Laksh : Haan, I will. And I’ll rest for an hour or so.
Just then they turned to the stairway to look at Swara walking downstairs. She was smiling but when she came near them, she grew worried.
Swara : Laksh? Are you okay? You don’t look well. I think you should lie down for a while.
Laksh : Yes! I was telling Sanskaar that very thing. I’ll have someone wake me up later.
Swara ( pecking him on the cheek) : Take care, Darling!
Laksh (smiling) : I will.
Sanskaar grimly nodded at Laksh and set out for the market with Swara.
Swara : Poor Laksh! I hate getting headaches. They make me feel so dim and tired.
Sanskaar : I’ve never got them myself.
Swara (surprised) : Really? Wow… Lucky you!
Sanskaar (chuckling) : Yes! Lucky me!
She looked up at him, one corner of her mouth quirking in that achingly familiar way.
It almost made Sanskaar laugh. Here he was, strolling through the night with the woman he loved.
Have you guessed yet?
Will reveal soon.
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