Chapter 161: Back to Hostel

Rajani dropped her case and looked around the stark utilitarian room with its single barred window – she was home. Silence and peace enfolded her. She raised a hand to pull the curtain.

The churas clanked.

In a burst of annoyance and rage, Rajani swiftly and deftly slipped them off. She was free of her shackles. Not completely. She still had the toe rings on. They pinched and hurt, she bent down but couldn’t take them off.

“As long as you wear the toe rings nothing can harm your husband,” her MIL’s words echoed. “You must wear them always for his continued good health and prosperity.”

Rajani threw herself on her bed and burst into gut wrenching tears. She was married and there was no escape. The last few days had been worse, if that were possible. It was as if each day fate taunted her saying ‘Cheer up, the worst is yet to come.’

The honeymoon was a complete and utter disaster. Rajani spent most of her time in the kitchen while Dimple took care of her son. To give Harsha credit he helped in the kitchen and even cooked up decent meals. Rajani wouldn’t have been able to serve an edible meal by herself, she was quite sure. Under Harsha’s exacting eye and strict guidance, she learnt how to chop and cut vegetables, identify spices and of course wash up as per Harsha’s SOPs and exacting standards. Dhrupad returned on the second day and Harsha would disappear with him for hours on some networking and exploring business expansion possibilities.

Dimple was out of sorts and lay in bed most of the time and it fell to Rajani to handle Deep as well.

And that was the saving grace.

She and Deep hit off instantly. Deep’s lisping talk and chortles enchanted Rajani and kept her sane. He in turn clung to her and demanded she feed him, bathe him tell him stories. This she was only happy to do for it not only distracted her but also spared her from the kitchen work.

“Bhaiyya is such a sweetheart!” Dimple gushed over and over again on the last day of their visit when she deigned to rise from her bed and take them on a whirlwind tour of the city while on the way to the malls. They stopped long enough to click some photos for the album. “I don’t know what I would have done without him. He is a master of everything – be it home or the kitchen. Wasn’t the kadi-chawal just out of the world? In a crisis all I ask for is Bhaiyya. He is like a rock, unfazed no matter how bad things are. You are so lucky to have him as your husband.”

Rajani tried her best to keep the shock and disbelief out of her face.

“Come here Deep,” Dimple called, “Say sorry to taiji for spoiling her honeymoon. Say sorry!”

“Sholee!” He clung to her legs with his good arm. Rajani bent down and hugged him, hiding the tears in his tiny but chubby frame.

“It’s not your fault!” She kissed and cuddled him soaking up energy and hope from his joie de vivre.

They shopped till they had no money left. Both Rekha and Sunaina loved all the things Rajani had bought for them, “You have such good taste and a really good eye!” Sunaina praised her. “The jacket you bought for yourself is really chic. Can I try it?”

“Sure.” Rajani smiled.

“Oh I look about 20 years younger don’t I?” Sunaina modeled with the jacket with a light stole thrown about.

“Yes! Mummy it really looks good on you.” Rekha gushed. “Let me try.”

She too modeled in it and raved about it until Rajani caved in. “Please take it.”

“No, no! I couldn’t!” Rekha looked at it longingly.

“Please take it. Mummyji could also wear it sometimes.”

“Oh you are so generous!” Rekha and Sunaina both hugged her. Harsha wore an approving look. Rajani felt a tad bit better. Besides she was looking forward to Shikha’s wedding and before that the accompanying ceremonies.

“I want to go to Chandigarh.” She spoke to Harsha. “I want to be there for Shikha’s Haldi. I will come to Delhi with Mamma and Papa.”

“How will you go?”

“Not again!” Rajani groaned. “Just put me on a bus! Papa will collect me.”

“It’s not safe.” He refused.

“You are deliberately being obstructive.” She accused.

“And you are being rude. I didn’t want to say it but where’s the invitation for the Haldi, Sangeet and Mehendi?”

Rajani stared. “What do you mean? They sent a card didn’t they?”

“A wedding invitation card by post. No personal visit. No follow up by phone. No shagun. Nothing. We don’t go to weddings where we are not invited personally.” Harsha declared.

What a whole lot of bullshit!

Rajani argued, pleaded, begged cried but to no avail. Ultimately Sunaina intervened. Rajani and Sunaina went for the wedding ceremony. It was a victory of sorts but a hollow one. She had never thought she would go to Shikha’s wedding as a guest, an outsider. But that’s how she felt. Shikha was too busy and wrapped up in the horde of cousins and relatives that had landed up and couldn’t do much beyond waving to her.

Her parents were not of much help either. “Where’s Harsha? I do hope he is well?” They asked anxiously.

“Perfect health Mamma,” Rajani was bitter, “busy riding his high horse with his oversized nose in the air.”

“Rani!” Nisha was scandalized and cast a look for Sunaina. Thankfully she was happily engaged in exchanging notes with an acquaintance. “Don’t talk like that!”

“Why shouldn’t I? It’s the truth.”

“But…” Nisha frowned, “That set your MIL is wearing looks very familiar,” she whispered.

“Yeah. It’s the one you gifted me for the wedding.”

“Why is she wearing it?”

“She liked it. She asked me if she could wear it.”

“Oh but you shouldn’t have given it to her!” Nisha protested. “It’s yours and it’s very expensive…”

“What should I have said? No it’s mine and I can’t give it you? Please Mamma,” Rajani said. “Rekha’s sari is also mine…”

“No! You should have let her know diplomatically…”

“I don’t know how to be diplomatic and if you wanted me to be you should have taught me the skills, instead of how to read and write.” Rajani was bitter.

“Hush!” Suryakant shushed them both. “What does it matter who wears what? Rajani or her MIL, it is one and the same thing. You did the right thing beta. Don’t fight over material things. If you need more, just ask me. I will…”

“No please Papa, you have given enough. Now just let it be. Tell me how are Bhai and Bhabhi?” She changed the topic. “Any news?”

“They’ve reached Mauritius. We got a call after they reached and after that nothing.” Suryakant said.

“Abhi had told me that they were going to disconnect from the world so that they could connect with each other.” Nisha giggled and blushed.

Rajani couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy.

She would be happy with just disconnection.


Click here for the next chapter: Coping

21 thoughts on “Chapter 161: Back to Hostel”

  1. What the!!!!!! Can I shoot Harsha & all of his family, including the singaporewaali??? How did Raji’s parents find this family, couldn’t they just be patient and found someone else for her??? A bunch of greedy manipulative monsters!! Poor Raji.. I did think she was being stubborn and unreasonable (some times) and dont want to adjust.. But she’s so young… and with this kind of family, why should she adjust??? & most unfair part is that its all happening only with Raji.. look at Abhi.. growing up in the same house he always got what he wanted, including a wife of his choice and there’s no drama from his in-laws (although they are related to Harsha’s family). His parents are also not demanding towards their bahu.. in fact I felt they are adjusting and caring towards her.. they even got Raji married with the first guy that came in their way, just because they want their laadla beta to get married right??? Grrrr…. life is so unfair to Raji!!
    Ok I can go on and on, so I better stop now
    & yes all these rambling means that you are an amazing writer & a great story teller Dahlia!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your eloquent rant. Quite made my day especially when you said you did think Rajani was being unreasonable and unadjusting at times. And that she is young and unexperienced. I wasnt sure I had managed to bring that out…thank you😊⚘⚘⚘


      1. You are welcome! & yes you do bring out each and every aspect of the essence of your characters… even with SS, I think you showed us what the real Arnav and Khushi is like (making us believe them as real life couple) and in a much better way than the original writers of IPKKND. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Aren’t Harsha’s mother and sister being too greedy. First the wedding shopping, then the gift sent through Rajni on the occasion of Abhi’s wedding, then taking money for honeymoon and now managing a household on honeymoon.. no issues with Deep being sick but was even Dimple dumb to let Rajni do all the housework along with managing Deep while she herself lazed around.
    Now her mother in law n sister in law taking away her clothes and jewellery. Not even a month has passed since she got wedded into a family that has not even bothered to cook up a couple of parathas once she returned tired n hungry from a trip where the great son offered only a cup of tea n biscuits. Instead the sugar coated greedy sunaina hinted on not having a microwave. Agreed Rajni wasn’t too reasonable at times but she had good reasons to justify her unreasonableness. What reasons did Harsha have?? Or for that matter of fact his sister or his mother. And joint account? What was the need to have one within 3 days if marriage?? Had it been this imperative, it should have been opened before the marriage itself.
    Rajani is supposed to be the heroine of the story. I can’t see her crumpled under a greedy family who is all after her clothes, jewellery and father’s money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Vishakha happy to meet you and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I wish I could say this was fiction but I have been a horrified and mute spectator that goes on in the name of marriage. Thus far is not even the tip of the iceberg, and I feel compelled to record in excruciating detail how clueless young women are when they enter into a marriage with absolutely no concept of what awaits her on the other side. And worse no skills or guide on what to do in such a situation. I am sure there are many families where the scenario is the other way around i.e the MIL gets a raw deal. But this is Rajani story and things will get much worse before they can get better. I sincerely hope you will stick around until then. Thanks!


      1. I’m sure Rajani is a strong individual. It’s just that she is so young and inexperienced and in the name of confidante she has a sugar coated greedy mother in law. I’ve been a follower of yours sincerely silver streaks. Khushi was a strong person inspite of a husband like ASR and so were the women in most of the present short stories. I hope more and more people realise that it’s not adjustment in every scenario would only lead to misery and that it should not be expected from only one person.

        Lovely story. Looking forward to more of it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much Vishakha for the interaction and the vote of confidence. I am particularly thrilled that you have been read the short stories as well. Women are inherently strong but due to various factors that is usually buried under layers of primarily guilt and an overwhelming desire to please others. Oh I could go and on, better stop here and leave something for the story 😀


  3. I have read your stories and I would like to tell you that a woman undergoing issues in her marriage should never read your stories. Your stories though show the reality of many women, they also demotivate women who would want to take a stand against husband’s or in laws who do wrong. Your writing is too good and realistic and I feel you should use it for a social cause too and show stronger women who take a stance against abuse. There has been a tremendous change especially with real stories of women standing up for their rights and not taking shot from women. So rather than showing women as the one’s who adjust in the name of love I would love to see you writing stories about strong women who have stood up for their rights without any issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sonia I appreciate your frankness and honesty. This kind of interaction is exactly what I am looking for. That said I agree that this story should probably not be read by someone who is going thru similar issues. But my primary target if i could arrange that are mothers of daughters and girls who have yet to enter matrimony. Everything happens so insidiously that they dont even realize where they are headed. For the purposes of expediency I have rather rapidly unveiled the greediness and grasping nature but in reality it may take a couple of years before it strikes her. There is too much happening and to process all that requires sometime but by then it is too late. I just hope to spread awareness and not just fingerpoint. Attitudes need to change we need to talk about it and find solutions and options. And another thing like i said things will get much worse before they can get better…simply because I feel many girls dont have any independent thought of their own. They either follow their parents or their husbands. That needs to change. She needs to be in control. I hope to show this and more but i cant do it without going into the depths of the tragic reality. I am typing from my phone so please forgive for any typos and disconnects. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts


      1. Yes true….as I said your stories are realistic but women should realize and know when and what to compromise/adjust and when not to. The Khushi in silver streaks compromised due to her love for Arnav and Rajji here is compromising due to her love for her family. Love doesn’t only mean compromising or adjusting….. that too only by women. I hope you show a strong woman in your future stories and inspire many women.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so happy Sonia that you pointed out the importance of compromise and the crucial difference. But if you remember initially Khushi also caved into family pressure didnt complain abt SMJ for various reasons. Things became really bad before she got to know what she wanted and bit by bit turnef the tables. I hope that time and experience will turn Rajani into a strong woman too. Fingers crossed


  4. Thanks for sharing this. Everyone treats different people differently and even the worst of people are kind to someone. It seems harsha is unhappy with Rajani and vice verse. Perhaps she can find solace in her studies and work?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Finally, I am up to date with the story. It was a bit difficult to read about the plight of Rajani. She will have to fight this battle alone.
    My mum was a very quiet and unassuming woman .She never taught us to compromise hence my sisters and I are very strong .My sister in laws also were never made to do things they did not like. They were allowed the freedom to study further, go to work and run the house as they fit.
    I am hoping things will get better for Rajani.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. We are lucky but many arent and worse with heads filled with romantic nonsense from movies MBs they happily jump into matrimony ill prepared and clueless. Knowledge is power and hopefully Rajani too will find herself sooner than later. Thank you for your comments which have eñcouraged and motivated me. I post on Wednedays and Fridays.


  6. Dahlia I am so sorry going on about myself. I know you are telling us what is happening in our society and while things seem to improve this dowery system seem to flourishing even among Indians living in forein countries. Some times thing are so bad that the girl is driven to taking her life. I often read about girls refusing to bow down to demands of dowery and leave the mandap which is very encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Londoner, please dont apologize for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Every opinion and perspective matters. There’s so much to say that I am afraid that I might stray from the topic and make a mess of it. Comments keep me grounded. What you say is correct about the dowry system and even though there are laws in place and in laws may not openly ask for dowry they have ways and means to squeeze the girl and her parents which are just below the radar so to speak. I find it tragic that despite being educated, financially independent girls are at the mercy of ‘society’ and their in-laws. I really appreciate you taking taking time to leave me a note they never fail to make my day and make my fingers fly 😀


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