A month after the “accident”…
The last awaited Maheshwari’s car parks finally, the most awaited too, some domestic hurries to open its door under hundreds of photo shoots and reporters presentations.
This morning has been the laying of first stone ceremony at the Mandir’s project field where media met the new member of Maheshwari and Sons Company’s shareholders. The occasion was for Durga Prasad Maheshwari to give his first official declaration since the last months problems and the lost his family and company have had a month ago.
He pointed out that his family has known terrible ordeals the last year but as always, together they have surpassed all of them despite pain and sorrow and here they are, proudly facing the world and proving that nothing can break them down.
After pooja, the ceremony and a rapid tour of the project’s field, everyone has been invited to the inauguration ceremony of a more personal project…
The car’s door opens and a woman comes out.
Wearing a fit black suit composed of a mid calf skirt, a short cut vest on a black silk blouse with high officer collar knotted in her neck, her long silky black hair gracefully tied up in a messy rich bun was clearing her perfect round childish face which was mostly eaten by her wide big black eyes.
The “SS” hearted necklace shining at her neck and the pair of bangels ornamenting her wrists are the unique jewels she’s wearing.
Perched on a stiletto heeled sandals and a small assorted purse in hands, Swara Sanskar Maheshwari was absolutely stunning!
She’s warmly welcomed by Ragini who smiling, hugs her tightly whispering in her ear that she’s proud of her for being so strong.
Swara doesn’t answer, not to her or to the insisting reporter’s questions, Laksh takes the situation in hands with them, while surrounded by all the family member, she’s asked to make some steps more… take the pose for photo shoots… look to one side then to the other… she nods… salutes hands joined under her chin… her expressionless beautiful eyes not meeting anyone’s gaze, Mrs Maheshwari is already the mysterious young rich widow making everyone whisper behind her.
Her Ma comes to hug her too, then bade Ma and Sujatta mum, Uttara… this new mode of “hugging Swara” is becoming more and more choking for her day by day.
Since what happened a month ago, everyone noticed that Swara wasn’t the same anymore. If they weren’t surprised to see how sad she was and how much she prefers to be alone all the time, they were more worrying about her silence, her looking nowhere eyes and the impression she gives about barely supporting any physical contact with anyone, not her Ma neither Ragini… not even her Dida…
It took her a whole week to go out from her bedroom at Dida’s second visit.
Before that, she passed all her time sitting in her bed, surrounded by Sanskar’s stuffs, wearing one of his t-shirts day and night… her unique contact with the outside world is when Ragini comes a plate in hands to feed her like a small child discussing about what happens in the house without any response or when some company’s assistant stands at her door waiting for Ragini to give him back some signed papers.
Her days are punctuated by Bade ma and mum visits checking on her, assuring themselves that she’s fine, nodding or shaking her head she agrees for whatever they says and let them go smiling.
At the end of the week, Dida came again pretending a bad backache, making her finally go down to receive her, yet in Sanskar’s t-shirt and pajama pants.
After a short tour in the garden, listening absent mindedly to her gentle words about diverting subjects, she noticed that some plants were fading, may be just like her… it was Sanskar’s part in the garden, where he passed long hours caring for them… now that he let them, they are dying slowly without him… exactly… just like her.
That night, bade papa came to her room for the first time, giving her some other papers like Laksh’ usually does, but he didn’t ask her to sign them as she was waiting for.
*-*-*-* FLASHBACK *-*-*-*
Surprised to see Durga Prasad in her room, Swara tries to get up from her bed straitening her weaken body but he stops her taking a chair and sitting aside facing her:
“- nahi, beta… it’s ok”.
She waits for what he wants to say, her stomach already tied up with a big ball which wants to go up in her throat choking her and making her burst out crying, looking to the file in his hands, she just wants to do whatever he wants and then return to her bubble alone… all she doesn’t want is a long talking… so she just waits.
After what it seems to her an eternity, he tends her the file he has in hands and asks her to look at it. She automatically takes a pensile from her bedside table and clicks it opening the file.
Her hand freezes above the papers feeling goose bumps covering her skin as her blurred with tears vision gives her a sigh of Sanskar’s signature…
“- Swara beta, those papers don’t need your signature…”
Actually Swara doesn’t really listen to him, she couldn’t focus on the words she was hearing from him, her heart beats pounding in her ears deafening everything else… a word succeeds capturing her attention… she frowns looking up two tears escaping her wide opened lashes. Frowning she asks with a small voice:
“- a gift?”
“- ha beta… Sanskar finalized this contract many months ago, planning to give it to you at your birthday…”
She looks back to the papers, not able to read a word… another paper sheet full of nonsense… just like the letter under her pillow…
She takes a deep breath closing her eyes to swallow her tears then opens them expressionless again.
To the long pleading for her sake, she just agrees with a nod like usual… he knows that even if she’s hearing him, she’s not here anymore, she’s back in her buble…
*-*-*-* END OF FLASHBACK *-*-*-*
Swara is snatched from her memories as someone puts a pair of scissors in her hands, asked to cut a red silky ribbon, she tries to not express her discomfort with all this noise surrounding her… clapping, cheering, congratulating…
Her mind flows away in her memories to that night, after her bade papa visit and the usual “good night” wishes from the whole family members , then the obliged taking medicines moment by Ragini, she laid in her bed restless, hugging Sanskar’s pillow, she closed her eyes hoping that this time she’ll fall in sleep quickly and escapes her nightmares… she tuned to one side, to the other… memories haunting her again… sat in her place, took the letter from under her pillow and read her once more for the umpteenth time…
How much she hates him for that!!!!
But how big liar she’s being trying to convince herself about that …
How can she do?… he’s in the heartbeats of her heart, in the veins going under her skin… he’s in the wounds bleeding from his absence…
She looks to her marked hand…
“if something happens to Swara… it’s Sanskar who will suffer…”
His voice reasons in her mind like a warning against any further ideas!
Restless, she gets up… may be some fresh air in the balcony will make her feel a bit lesser worst!
She’s again snatched from her memories abruptly when Sujatta mum cups her face in her palms kissing her forehead then says:
“- Happy birthday, choree”
At the succeeding wishes for long and happy life, she closes her eyes suppressing a sudden need to run away… yes run far away from this drama… run until she reaches this bridge’s edge where she met Sanskar a last time… may be if she go there again, he’ll come to her… may be if she fall again he’ll come to wake her from this nightmare… but again…
“- if something happens to Swara… it’s Sanskar who will suffer”
His voice echoes in her ears muting the surrounding noises… then, for once, she notices finally that everyone is looking not at her but to the same upper point… above the wrought iron entrance gate… she looks up there to find the entwined “SS” shining like a throne beside a beautiful calligraphic inscription:
“ SWASAN… the heartbeats’ melody…”
Suddenly, it’s like if her bubble had exploded and she could hear her surrounding talks… about her birthday, about the gift, about her husband’s love, about a dream coming true, about music… memories of her bade papa explanations come unwelcomed to her mind…
*-*-*-* FLASHBACK *-*-*-*
“- Sanskar started that project long time ago, before Rajjad issue and what happened next… Actually, Maya ji, Sahil’s mother was our first partner in that, but after what happened with Sahil, everyone forgot about it… everyone except Sanskar…”
*-*-*-* END OF THE FLASHBACK *-*-*-*
Behind the imposing opened gates, was an immense haveli built in a beautiful combination between rajasthani style and Bengali’s one looking more like an ancestral castle than an academic building.
For Swara, it’s not the first time she visits it, she has already visited the renovation’s site when there was so many workers and materials… as usual, she just kept nodding for Laksh’s presentations and Ragini’s wonderment…
She remembers that she has hated that impersonal site, having for it just the same awful feeling that she has toward the papers she has to sign, to the letter she keeps always with her wherever she goes… the same bitterness she taste when she accepts the food her sister offers her recalling her that she has to take care for her health…
The couple of times she accepted to come here, she wandered along the long corridors with high sailings feeling that the big stole covering her t-shirt and pajama pants look couldn’t protect her from the coldness those walls were emanating!
She remembers that if one of the workers didn’t found her at the top of one of the four tours surrounding the building, she could let herself to be forgotten there forever. Chillness would brought her to that place where she wanted to go back from the moment she opened her eyes that night!
Today, looking around to the several parts of what all are saying “HER MUSIC ACADEMY” she keeps quite, astonished…
Divided by ages, by sections for traditional and occidental instruments… there were sections for playing music… for singing… even for acting… all was there, from the imagined organization to the colors of classes’ walls!
It was like if the architect has made a tour in her imaginary world and stole the vision she had for this childhood dream then brought it to reality… the thief was her Sanskar…
At the moment she steps in her office, she feels like winded, like if she’s falling endlessly in the vacuum… the deep blue and the scarlet white colors covering the too big space plunge her in her home, her room… Sanskar’s room as she found it the first day she entered the house named his wife… a sumptuous flower bouquet recalls her the one he gave her on their shagun, when he offered all her family members a flower blushing under their admiring looks…
She feels like if his perfume was embalming the whole space and suddenly she just want to go back in her bubble again, she wants to be alone… bade ma notices her unease and suggest to everyone to continue their visiting tour and let her take place in her office.
“Her office”… what a joke!
She stays a long time standing in the middle of the vast bureau, detailing its furniture… mahogany wooden desk and swiveling chair matching the bookshelves filled with several subjects books… the inscription on the plaque gives her goose bumps : “Mrs Swara Sanskar Maheshwari”… exactly what she signs every time some company’s assistant gives her a paper.
Like at that moment when someone knocks on the door, he stays at a defensive distance and waits for her to read… factures and engagements for teachers… it’s what seems first director’s assignments, she’s surprised it’s not bade papa or Laksh who gave them to her assorted with a long speech about… whatever!
She signs hastily starting with the entwined SS for both the words Swara and Sanskar… the head of the official papers recalls her the entry’s gate… the academy’s name… SwaSan… the heartbeats melody…
Giving back the papers to the guy waiting at the door, she’s relieved to chase the whole world away from her! She just needs to be alone…
She takes off her sandals, her vest, opens the buttons in her back to free her collar and holding on her necklace, she makes some steps toward the glass wall overlooking on a vast gardens where green scrubs are cut so they draw “SS” acronyms all around in the middle of her favorite colored roses… she’s taken aback on that day he promised her to be his princess… to the last words he told her that night…
“As long as Sanskar will be alive, Swara will be his princess…”
She rests her forehead on the glass closing her eyes and whispers:
“- but kyu, Sanskar… kyu? I know that you’re mad at me… I know that you’re punishing me… I know you’ve suffered so much by my acts… and I promise, I swear on the love you’re having for me in your heart… that I’ll be just as you wish… I’ll preserve myself from any harm, I’ll never hide anything from you, I’ll respect your decisions, I’ll stop playing detective, I’ll stop playing mahan, I’ll accept your silly gifts without arguing… I’ll do whatever you want… but just stop this…”
She slides along the glass wall and cries badly for a moment, hugging the letter she hates so much, she things about all the beautiful moment she lived with him… everything else was insignificant…
Suddenly, hearing a nightingale beautiful song outside, she opens her eyes surprised and gets up looking back to the gardens… searching for a moment then for the first time in the last month, she joins her hands and prays silently.
Wiping her nose, she brushes back the silky locks of hair escaping the bun tying them up… her eyes scrutinize the blackness a smoking piece of burned wood has marked on her parted hairs’ roots above her forehead… brushing back some strands, she hides it.
She’s about taking her shoes from the ground when something catches her attention on the desk…
A white plied handkerchief on its corner… her hand reaches out for it not believing the image her eyes was giving her, she touches its familiar fabric then smelling it deeply she bursts out crying again and looks around in disbelieve…
Her whisper echoes on the office walls without a response but she doesn’t care… wiping her eyes with it, she smiles for the first time not able to stop her flow of tears.
Suddenly a flute song comes from nowhere… “janam… janam…” song music… her heart skips a beat then aches badly at the memory of the last time she heard that beautiful song… she storms out yelling at her staff poeple:
“- who’s playing that song?… stop that flute immediately…”
Her secretary explains that there weren’t any music lessons today and the sound is coming from outside the academy.
Swara goes out searching, security guys look at her stunned, bare feet and undone first back shirt’s button, her messy bun not sustaining her hair anymore… she was just unrecognizable!
“- where the hell is this flute sound coming from!?”
“- Madam ji… it’s probably the old mad chacha living in the tent… somewhere in the fields around”
Laksh arrives with Ragini, Durga Prasad, Ram and Shekar stayed back discussing. Ragini surprised at Swara’s state comes to her:
“- Swara?… what’s going on?”
Swara doesn’t reply, the continuing music sound was playing on her nerves, she puts her hands on her ears closing her eyes.
Worried, Laksh asks them shouting:
“- Didn’t I order that all the illegal occupants of the fields around have to be taken away?”
“- Yes sir, and it has been done… but that old blind chacha refused all solutions security staff proposed to him…”
“- what does it mean? We’ll have children here… how will we assure their security…”
Ragini’s voice startles him, when he looks back he finds that Swara has escaped Ragini attempts to calm her down and is running toward the field.
They follow her through the fields of flowers asking her to stop but she doesn’t until she reaches the source of the sound making her go completely mad!
Panting she shouts:
“- STOP!!! Stop that music!!! STOP!!”
The old white bearded man, black glasses hiding his blind eyes and turban on his head, was sitting cross legged on the grass, wearing a long white kameez under a black sleeveless waistcoat…
“- I SAID STOP!!!”
Swara takes off the flute from him and throws it on the ground…
“- why are you here? Why are you playing this song?…”
She was panting, her feet bleeding from her race and her loosened hair covering most of her face. Ragini and Laksh finally joins her… followed by the security guys.
Ragini presses her hand trying to calm her while Laksh addresses the old man:
“- What is your problem? We gave you plenty compensations for moving from here, why are you refusing?”
The aged man searches in the grass with trembling finger for his flute before getting up slowly, holding on his back with one hand, the other gripping his flute possessively, he says with a pronounced pathan accent:
“- hey Allah!… these times bacchos… beta… ek question… ek response… at my age, too much questions at once, I’ll not remember all of them!… bullo… kya hua?…”
Laksh’ calms down feeling guilty for shouting at an elder’s face and moreover, who is blind and living in a miserable full of holes tent…
“- Chacha… you have to understand that you haven’t the right to be here, this is a private propriety and you have to go… we can help you to find a better place than this…”
“- A private propriety of who?”
Facing the sky, the old man waits for the answer, Ragini says holding on Swara’s hands:
“- of my sister, Swara Sanskar Maheshwari”
“- your sister bought this land with all what was on it… trees… flowers… butterflies… birds… haveli… and me!!!… I’m a part of this land! If she bought it… so she bought me with it… a man can…”
Exceeded, Swara points a warning finger at his face and says:
“- let your two pesos poetry to your companion at ashram or jail… you have the choice!”
“- oh little madam ji… don’t waste your energy on arguing with me… your henchmen tried their chance in vain… I’ve passed the twenty passed years playing flute here and I’ll continue that until my last breath…”
Expressing his words, he bring the instrument to his lips and starts playing the same song again… death subject and same tormenting melody… repressed unbearable memories comes back in her mind and choked, she asks again:
He smiles showing his blackened teeth and says:
“- why? You don’t like music?… strange for a music academy owner!… you don’t like this song… let’s play another one…”
He restarts playing again… another familiar sound… the “Guerua song”
Images of the day Sanskar proposed to her after a helicopter journey melted with those on a helicopter landing area… songs music… helicopter’s tuning helices sound… the crash… the explosion…
Holding her head with her both hands, she faints in her sister’s arms finishing lying on the ground.
Alarmed, Ragini tries to wake her up while Laksh takes his phone to call for rescue…
The old man who’s gone inside his tent, comes out with a cup of water, pouring some in his hand, he throws it on the ground wetting her face and most of her outfits.
She wakes up startled… looking around for marks… the old man voice brings her to reality, she looks up to him.
“- yello… make the little madam ji drink some water… she has run too much… and don’t forget to put ointments on her injuries…”
Swara was already getting up, she refuses the water cup and sustaining her weight on Ragini, she tells him:
“- you can stay here if you want but with one condition… never play flute again!”
Not waiting for his response, she turns back and steps in the security car which followed them asking them to take her home immediately.
By night, the old men is seen sitting on Swara’s chair in her office, he takes off his turban, his glasses… then his fake long white beard… brushing his hair with his hands, Sanskar turns back to the wall behind him admiring the multiple photos of him and Swara ornamenting it.
He hugs Swara’s jacket tightly smelling its scents and says:
“- I’m sorry princess… I have to do it…”