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Swasan – Captivated Forever – Chapter 24 – By Anjali

SWASAN – CAPTIVATED FOREVER!
Heyy, It’s Anjali back with the next chapter!!!
Thnxx for comments and to my silent readers….
HAVE FUN!!!
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Sanskaar and Swara sleep with each other
Chapter 24
Sanskaar looked around the table where everyone was gathered to discuss the work needed for the betrothal party.
Sanskaar: No way. Tia will not come for the party and that’s final.
The Oberois looked politely curious while the Maheshwaris looked at Sanskaar uncomfortably.
Uttara : But Sanskaar!
Sanskaar (firmly) : No Uttara!
Uttara (in a louder voice) : Sanskaar! You have to listen to me.
He looked at her with surprise. Uttara generally didn’t raise her voice and was very calm.
Uttara : Five years, Sanskaar. Don’t you think it’s time to let bygones be bygones?
Parineeta : Uttara? You’re thinking about Tia? Shouldn’t you take Sanskaar’s side?
Uttara : Par bhabhi?
Sanskaar : No more. I do not want Tia at my betrothal party. (turning to the Oberois) I’m sorry, but Tia and I have a rocky history and I cannot tolerate her.
Ragini (smiling) : Everyone has a past. Don’t worry. We won’t judge you for this. Now, Why don’t we go out to the garden and have a game of dodgeball? The kids will love it and we could use some activity.
Laksh : Yes, We can go to the garden and yes, we will play dodgeball but not you, My love. You shall take a light walk and then sit.
Ragini (scowling) : Just because I’m pregnant? I can still run, You know. I have had children before, Laksh. Do you think you can honestly stop me playing?
Om (sweetly) : Ragini… You may be able to intimidate your husband. But I swear, If you run or even attempt to join the game, I will personally wring your neck.
Virtually everyone at the table laughed—Ragini included—and the uncomfortable moment passed.
But it was not over.
After the game, While everyone relaxed in the lounge chairs as they sipped hot tea, Swara turned to Sanskaar.
Swara (softly) : What is your plan? Are you really not going to invite Tia? Are you going to pretend that she doesn’t live just ten minutes from your house? You think you can go on with life not seeing her even once?
Sanskaar : Yes, I can. It may not be something an Oberoi would do, Shona, but it is very definitely something a Maheshwari intends doing.
Swara : But don’t you think it would be weird? Neighbours ignoring each other? People will talk.
Sanskaar : People have already spoken. I don’t care anymore and if she does, She can move away from here.
Swara : But Sanskaar, If you don’t do this, you might never get closure.
Sanskaar turned to Swara and looked at her directly in the eye.
Sanskaar : While I may have listened to you about my father, that will not happen now. I am not interested in forgiving her or even speaking to her. Remember that. This is my final word, Swara.
She opened her mouth to say more but thought better of it. She merely nodded instead. But she was silent for only a minute or so.
Swara : It may have affected you the most. But it has affected my brother too. I shall not remain quiet.
He did not say anything in return.
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Swara could do anything to protect the people she loved. Person she loved – meaning Shivaay. And so, She made a decision.
She had to talk to Tia.
Since the outburst from Sanskaar the previous evening, Swara had been feeling uneasy about some things and the only way to resolve them was to meet Tia.
Therefore, The next morning, After everyone had finished breakfast, Swara approached Uttara.
Swara : Uttara di! Were you there that night in the Raichand’s house?
Uttara looked back at her, instantly wary.
Uttara : Yes, I was. The Raichands and the Maheshwaris have always been close friends. HAD always been close friends and we were all glad to be part of the betrothal announcement that day.
Swara : Sanskaar told me about the story that day and I found some incidents suspicious at the time but I didn’t ask him about it.
Uttara : Suspicious?
Swara : Yes. How did they know where Sanskaar and Tia had gone? Even if Tia was assumed to be in her room, Why did all three of them– Tia’s father, Shivaay and Sanskaar’s father go to her room? Why did they think the two were together?
Uttara stared blankly at her.
Uttara : I don’t know.
Swara (incredulous) : Didn’t you ever ask your uncle?
Uttara (shaking her head) : No, I did not.
Swara gazed intently at her.
Swara : Do you not wonder about it now?
Surely she must.
Uttara : Now that you mention it, Perhaps… Probably it was a servant.
Swara : Uttara di! Do you believe Tia? Do you believe that Sanskaar stole that jewellery or whatever it was? Do you believe he forced Tia in bed?
Uttara (shocked) : Ofcourse not. How could you even ask that?
Swara : Then you believe that Tia drugged Sanskaar? She orchestrated all of this?
Uttara’s eyes were filled with grief as she looked at Swara.
Uttara : You did not know Mr Raichand. He was a tyrant. And he was going to get poor Tia married to another tyrant….. (embarrased) I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.
Swara : Yes, you did. I even know why he might seem like a tyrant. But he is also a fair man. If she had told him she didn’t want to marry him, He would have backed off. But do you know that she did do it then?
Uttara : We never ever spoke about it. It was too painful, both for her and me.
Swara : Di, You continued to be friends with her knowing that she had brought your family misfortune? You knew your brother, your aunt, uncle,everyone was suffering and yet you went and met her everyday?
Uttara (her eyes flashing) : There are some friendships that can never be broken, Swara.
Swara gaped at her, then spoke, unable to keep the scorn out of her voice.
Swara : Someone who made my brother leave his family for five years? Someone who turned a happy man to a cynical bitter one? I think however strong the friendship, She would become my former friend.
Uttara : You don’t understand.
Swara (smiling sadly) : No, I don’t. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to argue with you but I need to understand the past. I need to know why it was Sanskaar who was chosen for such suffering. And why my brother had to suffer so much humiliation.
Uttara : I don’t know.
Swara was surprised to see tears in her eyes, but said nothing about it.
Swara : I would like to meet her.
Uttara (surprised) : Tia? Is that wise?
Swara : Maybe not. But it’s necessary, I feel.
Uttara drew a deep breath and released a sigh.
Uttara : Sometimes, I feel you have grown up too quickly. (Before Swara could utter a word) We will go in the afternoon. But do not tell Sanskaar now.
Swara nodded and smiled at her.
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That afternoon, Swara and Uttara slipped out of the house unknown to anyone else. Sanskaar had gone with his mother to visit a relative. Ragini was napping and Laksh was keeping her company while Om and Gauri had taken the kids to the beach for a boat ride.
The whole way there, She and Uttara had scarcely spoken to each other, each wrapped in thought.
Tia met them herself at the door. While she greeted Uttara by hugging her and kissing her on the cheek, Swara gazed curiously at her. Tia was pretty, extraordinarily so. She was very thin, with sharp features and eyes that indicated that she had been through too much.
This, Swara thought, was the woman Shivaay had almost married. This was the woman he had loved. He must have loved her. Like all the Oberois, he believed strongly in love within marriage. He could have had no other reason to marry her—he had not needed her father’s influence and he had not needed her fortune. This was the woman who might have been her sister-in-law.
Uttara introduced them to each other though she seemed slightly apprehensive.
Swara : Pleased to meet you, Miss Raichand.
Tia (smiling) : Tia will be fine and it’s nice to meet you too.
Swara : Then you may call me Swara.
Tia nodded and led them to a sitting room where refreshments were placed. Murmuring pleasantries for a while, Swara wondered how to bring about the topic but before she could say anything, Tia herself initiated the conversation.
Tia : Uttara called me in the morning and told me that you wanted to talk to me about the incident.
Swara set down her cup and saucer and clasped her hands in her lap. Tia and Uttara were sitting side by side opposite Swara. Both were looking at her rather warily, and Tia’s cheeks were flushed. Swara repeated the question she had asked Uttara that morning.
Swara : Why would all three of them come to the room? How did they find out? Who told them? Who sent them up there?
Tia : I’m sure I couldn’t tell you. I never thought about it.
Swara looked at her straight in the eyes.
Swara : I think you’re lying. You must have known they were coming. You had orchestrated the entire incident. You drugged Sanskaar and made it look like you both had slept together. You did it all so that you wouldn’t have to marry my brother, Shivaay. But someone must have told you that the men were coming. Someone helped you with this charade. You must have had an accomplice.
Tia (her face red) : Are you calling me a liar?
Swara : Shivaay must have loved you, at least a little. He would not have wanted to marry you otherwise. Sanskaar….
Swara stood and turned away, hearing the other ladies get up as well.
Swara (softly) : Sanskaar’s heart and trust was broken by his father and he is permanently scarred in some ways. Shivaay has been even more cold and withdrawn and a friendship that could have lasted was forever tainted. Sanskaar may be recovering but there is no going back from the hurt that you caused.
Tia : I…
Uttara (interrupting) : I was the one who helped Tia. I lured him to Tia’s room and I was the one who watched as Tia handed him a drink with 4 crushed sleeping pills. I also was the one who told Bade Papa, Mr Oberoi and Mr Raichand that Sanskaar was forcing Tia against her will.
Swara closed her eyes and let out a sigh. She had suspected it since the morning, Swara realized. She had hoped she was wrong, since betrayal from within his own family would be far worse to Sanskaar than betrayal by a neighbor and former friend. But why?
She turned around to see a white faced Tia and Uttara clutching each other and she leveled them with a look.
Swara : Why?
Uttara : We planned it together. Tia’s father had bullied and threatened her into accepting Shivaay Singh Oberoi’s marriage offer. If the betrothal announcement had been publicly made, all would have been lost. She would not have been able to avoid the marriage. She turned to me in her misery and desperation, and together we concocted the plan.
Swara (shocked) : But he was your brother. How could you do that to him?
Uttara (smiling sadly) : Five years ago, I never knew what having a brother meant. I came to live with these people after my lovely Mumma died but I never really belonged. Ofcourse everyone was very kind to me but they didn’t love me. Or so I thought.
Her eyes were filled with tears and Tia murmured soothing words of comfort.
Uttara : I met Tia and she helped me. She was my sister, by trust and friendship, if not by blood. I couldn’t not do anything for her as her choices were taken away. I am sorry… Swara, You have got to believe me when I say that. I recovered from all of that years ago and recognized how unfair I had always been to the family that had truly nurtured and loved me. I realy love them all now. But we tend to be selfish, self-obsessed creatures when we are very young. At least I was.
Tia : I am sorry too. I am sorry that I judged all men comparing them to my father. But I was really scared… Marriage to a man that my father approved of? It might have ruined my life. I didn’t know what else to do. I was very young and I took the easiest way out for me. I.. (closing her eyes) I was only twenty.
Swara (whispering) : I am twenty now.
The two women looked at her speechless.
Swara : Couldn’t you have spoken to Shivaay? Couldn’t you have spoken to Sanskaar, For God’s sake? He was your friend and you labeled him a rapist and a thief. What did happen to the stolen item? Was it ever stolen?
Tia shook her head.
Tia : Papa would have made me marry Sanskaar and he would have done it too, being a gentleman, but I couldn’t let him ruin his life by staying with me. So, I had to do something that would make him seem unfit for me. I told Papa that Sanskaar stole the bracelet. I never imagined that it would have such dire consequences. I almost lost even Uttara’s friendship. She was very angry with me about the bracelet.
Uttara (softly) : I wanted Tia to be made unmarriageable and free. I never wanted Sanskaar to be exiled. Do you believe me?
Her desperate eyes met Swara’s, who nodded.
Swara : I believe you did not want that for Sanskaar and I believe that you only wanted to help your sister. But.. After everyone’s anger had subsided, Why didn’t you open your mouth? Why didn’t you tell the truth? Why were you such a….
Swara shut her mouth, her hands trembling. Such cowardice was so far beyond her own nature that it was hard to understand it, far less condone it in someone else.
Uttara : Coward? Monster? Selfish? I am all of those things and more. I had got a family again. A mother, a brother and sister in law, A darling niece and most of all, My younger sister Tia. I didn’t want to lose anything. I didn’t want to lose my family.
Swara : You didn’t lose anything, did you? Sanskaar did.
Swara could feel Uttara’s pain and knew she was devastated by what happened. She now realised why Uttara had been so happy with her and Sanskaar’s betrothal. She understood why Uttara was so protective of Tia and why she wanted Sanskaar to forgive her.
Tia was Uttara’s sister and and there was nothing one couldn’t do for the one they love.
After all, Hadn’t she remained in the war-ridden zone waiting for Rudra?
Swara (to Tia) : Do you regret it?
Tia : Every minute of every day.
Swara (to Uttara) : Do you love Sanskaar as your brother? Do you love him as much as you love Tia?
Uttara : He is my brother and will always be. I wish I could take things back.I would have told Bade Papa and I would have made everything right again.
Swara : You can still make everything fine again.
Tia : How? Papa and Uncle are both dead.
Swara : But Shivaay and Sanskaar are not.
Tia (blanching her face) : You expect me to tell Shivaay Singh Oberoi the truth?
Swara : He is not a bad man. Shivaay is a strong man. Whatever he suffered then, he will have recovered from by now. And Sanskaar’s long ordeal is over. He was strong enough to survive it with all his best character traits intact, and he is building his life anew. They will both live out their lives in the manner they see fit regardless of what you do. I expect nothing of you.
She took her phone and purse from the table and turned to Uttara.
Swara : I will leave now, Uttara di.
Uttara : I will come later, Swara. You go ahead without me. I want to talk to Tia.
Swara nodded and walked to the door. She paused at the entrance and turned once more to the ladies.
Swara : I don’t expect anything from you both. But I think you should expect more from yourselves. Be brave and have the courage to face the world. You still have each other. It is now time to face the music, however harsh it might be. I believe you have to courage. You just need to find it.
It was a relief to Swara to be alone on the journey home. The truth was far more horrible than she had ever imagined. How could anyone think all was well when four lives were destroyed? More than four lives— Sanskaar, Shivaay, Uttara, Tia, The other Maheshwaris… What a burden to carry and what a facade they had upheld for the past five years.
Swara didn’t know whether she was furious or sympathetic to their plight. A bit of both, she supposed. How lonely an existence they must have had living in their own private hell?
At least they had their sisters’ bond to keep them sane. How could Swara know what she might be capable of doing under similar circumstances?
She might have disregarded Shivaay’s wishes and eloped with someone. She might have done anything.
Swara thought of Sanskaar and her heart lurched. She must end the masquerade soon. Perhaps she would do it at the betrothal party. That would be spectacular—and also cruel. Afterward, then. Soon afterward. She would tell him quietly that she was ending it and leave Chandipur with Ragini or Om. It would be enough. She would leave enough embarrassment behind her and take enough bleakness away with her.
Did he have any feelings for her at all? Sometimes she thought he did, and of course he told her that he loved her. She certainly believed that he had a physical passion for her. The words he had murmured to her while making love to her had surely not been feigned. But it was not enough anyway. He had become too dear to her in Srinagar, and all the time he had been cynically and callously using her. There could be no forgiveness for that—or if there could, then there could be no lasting trust after it.
How strange life was, she thought. If Tia and Uttara had not behaved desperately on a night long ago when she herself was only fifteen years old, Sanskaar would not have crossed the room at the party in Srinagar and asked for an introduction to her. He would not even have noticed her.
She would not have noticed him. He wouldn’t have had revenge in his mind. She might not have been captivated with him. She would never have loved him.
Everything was connected.
Yes, It was all connected.
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