The Best of Things
(Ragya, Swasan) Fan Fiction Series +16
Left to his own devices, Sanskaar walked along the ghat and settled down under a shady tree, watching the river pass.
What Swara said had struck him. Indeed, there was a difference in what he had said, what he had promised then and the way he was reacting now - being irritable, impatient when he had once promised to wait upon her wishes...
He watched a bird swoop over the water. Why did men begin to criticise the very things that attracted them at the beginning? Women were women... soft, artistic, whimsical, feminine creatures who made everything so beautiful... he had lived alone for five long lonely years, in bitterness and hate... he knew the value of a lamp lit in the house when he walked in, the comfort of hot food that was carefully made and lovingly served, he had perceived the charm of fresh flowers in a vase... he knew the indefinable change that came over a space when a woman reigned over it... then why was he carping at Swara these past few days? Why had he cribbed about her bags, about waiting for her, about the things she needed to do to sweeten their lives and the relationships they were surrounded with?
After all the angst and suffering they had been through, Sanskaar imagined a very ordinary life for Swara and himself... he would make enough money for comfort and security, she would set up her music school and look after their home, they would have children, live with their large and loving family... and grow old with happy contentment. The events would be ordinary but what would be extraordinary would be the way they would live that life... with love, generosity, laughter and kindness.
I will not be careless, he promised himself... he would not slip into the habits of other men, who rolled their eyes at the everything their wives did, and then after a few years of marriage, crack sexist jokes about how they had lost their freedom... he had promised to cherish Swara and it was up to him to do it, in small things as well as the big...
Sanskaar was reclining in a long cane chaise lounge, reading a paperback. Dida had made lunch, left it on the table and had gone two streets away to see a friend who had fallen ill. She had been a bit concerned about her damaad, but Sanskaar had assured her he would be at home and was perfectly well occupied.
He looked up as Swara bustled in, in a torrent of apologies. She was wearing a peach coloured sari with a black border and she looked pink, partly reflecting the colour she was wearing and also because she had rushed back in the noon sun.
She had thrummed to the buzz of the market, the quaint shops with their white linen gaddas, the savviness of the shop owners and the dazzling array of weaves she had been shown. As she had walked along the weaving trade locality of Kunj Gali with Prabha, Swara had mused about this activity she loved so much. Going into local markets was an immediate way of plunging into the commerce and the current lifestream of any place. Visiting a temple or a landmark told you a little bit about the history but marketplaces tell you how the place lives today! Shopping was not just about buying things, it was a way to connect, a way to experience a new place. Didn't he understand? Why had Sanskaar lashed out at her like that?
Although she had enjoyed herself, there had been an underlying anxiety that Sanskaar was upset with her. Well, he hated accompanying her while shopping even more than being left on his own - what was she to do? She had hurried back and was now relieved to see him looking relaxed.
"Sorry, sorry! I didn't mean to take so long!" she panted as she put down the various bags she had brought back. "Where's Dida?"
Sanskaar told her.
Swara gulped down water from the fridge and plonked in a chair under the fan, sighing in relief as she let it cool her down. Sanskaar looked at the bags she had put down... they contained about two dozen boxes of what he presumed were saris and kurtas... something for each and every member of their two families. How did she even manage to choose something appropriate for every one of them in such a short while? And knowing her, Swara would not have asked for the same item in four colours - she would have tried to pick up something that would suit and please each wearer. He felt guilty for having hustled her through this vital task.
She saw his eyes on the boxes, and looked troubled. "Too much, na? But the thing is..."
"It's ok, Swara! It's not too much," he said quickly. "We're in Banaras, and it's a rare opportunity... I know!"
She got up, came over, nudged his hip aside and leaned over him to butt his head gently. "Gussa gaya tumhara?"
He nodded, looking contrite and distinctly boyish. He sat up.
"Swara...!" he started to say. She jabbed her chin at him in question, love and indulgence in her face. "Ek baat hai mere baare mein, jo maine tumse ab tak chupake rakhi hai."
"Achcha? Kya baat?" she asked.
He scratched his head. "Jaate jaate, tumhein pata chal hi jaayega... phir bhi..."
"Bolo na! Aisi kya baat ho sakti hai?" she mused.
He looked at her as if worried about her reaction. "Actually, Swara, woh... main bohut chidchida hoon!"
She looked at him for a moment and started to laugh. "Oooh! Breaking News!" she said.
"Did you know?" he asked in surprise.
She was still laughing. "Of course! Did you think I wouldn't know what a short temper you have?"
"I've never been irritable with you!" he protested.
"Yes, that's true... you are very patient, very well behaved with me. But I do notice how you behave with your mom, your sister, with Lakshya... I know you have a short fuse sometimes," she explained.
"Oh!" he pulled an apologetic face. "I thought I'd just warn you. All those things that you mentioned this morning? It's true - woh sab main aashiqui ke josh mein keh gaya. I mean, I'll still carry all your bags... but I hate waiting, Swara!"
"No problem! I'll try not to keep you waiting - simple! Or you always give me a twenty-minute margin... how's that?" she smiled at him, touched that he was mulling over quirks of his own personality.
"And I'm also very possessive about you, Swara!" He looked embarrassed.
"I know that also! Even Dida knows that by now!" she laughed.
He flushed. It was one thing to want the lion's share of his wife's time but quite another to have her grandmother think he was spoilt and selfish!
Swara went on, "You told me once you were jealous of Ragini because she occupied my thoughts so much, but actually you hate it when anyone or anything else takes away my attention. I know, Sanskaar!"
He took her hand and tucked it into his arm as they sat side by side on the cane sofa, "I have the best wife in the whole world!" He became a bit serious. "What did I do to deserve you, Swara? Kaise mujhe tum mil gayin?"
"Shall I tell you how?" she asked.
"You had the good sense to want me!" she said.
She was right! It was that simple. He had seen her goodness, her generosity, her vivacity... and he had wanted her in his life. That she was now the central pivot of his life was a cascading result of that impulse. And, there was no denying it - he was the luckiest man alive!