Rajani was back in college. But her heart was in Delhi. She felt restless and agitated. She had to sort this out, she had to. She couldn’t bear it that Harsha thought ill of her, that it was her fault, she had to set it right somehow. She rang up Harsha again and again. Until he picked up her phone.
“Harsha please listen to me. I wasn’t gossiping I was just sharing…”
“Ha!” Harsha snorted, “Fancy English words! What’s the difference?”
“The difference is in intention. It wasn’t with a view to complain, I was just about to tell her how you…”
“Let’s drop this shall we? I would appreciate if you don’t discuss my family with anyone else. I also can say a lot of things, against your family but do I do so? No. So just show me the same courtesy. It is not asking for much is it?” he disconnected the phone
What do you have against my family? What is there to gossip about them? When have they not risen to your demands? And yet you have complaints against them? Rajani was furious, she would have said this and more if only Harsha had picked up his phone. Rajani was forced to swallow her questions and seethe with the injustice of it all.
And as her college course neared its end, Rajani’s feeling of dread grew and she almost wished she flunked her exams – anything to delay her return to Delhi.
But like all good things, her reprieve ended and it was time to make that permanent shift to Delhi.
Harsha flew down to help her wrap up, close her bank account and transfer everything to their joint account in Delhi, which he had been savvy and far-sighted enough to ensure on one of her myriad trips to Delhi. And before she knew it, Rajani was back in the thick of things.
The major bright spot of life in Delhi was Akash, Rekha and Kuldeep’s son just over a year old. He adored his Mami and clung to her often insisting that she feed him and bathe him, much to his Nani’s annoyance.
“And who looked after you all these days?” She grilled him, “your precious Mami?”
“Mami, mami, mami,” he chortled in delight and shot off on wobbly chubby legs to find his Mami.
Rajani couldn’t help but be gratified and pleased. She gathered him in her arms and cuddled him. She took a deep breath and inhaled his sweet smell. He squirmed, Rajani tickled him, and he chortled and bucked. Rajani laughed. He was so cute, a joy to behold.
A yearning unfolded within her.
She wanted a baby of her own. A princess. Dressed in pink, complete with a silver wand with a pink bow. Awww, she hugged Akash closer.
When would she have a baby?
Would she ever have a baby?
She and Harsha were sharing a room but he had yet to make a move towards her.
Not that Rajani was complaining, she didn’t feel connected or ready for any physicality with her husband. Apart from a seething resentment and a burning undercurrent of injustice, she had no feelings for him. And this ‘situation’ suited her just fine, she thought loftily.
But to be honest, she was a little miffed.
Didn’t he want to…?
From whatever Shikha had let fall, it appeared Amu couldn’t wait to jump on her, regardless of time place or feasibility. Rajani blushed to even think about some of the scandalous things Shikha had hinted at – in a car? How was it even possible? And night morning afternoon and evening? Ewww! She was glad Harsha wasn’t such an animal.
But still didn’t he…? Maybe he was so disgusted with her that he was turned off by her? She sighed. That was probably it.
He didn’t like her.
Well neither did she.
But she did want a baby. A baby would make her world all right once again. Everything would be fine. Mamma had also said so. Many times. Over and over again.
“A child is the glue that binds a family together. A child is what makes life complete. No one can make you understand what motherhood is. Only when you become a mother do you understand. It is the best feeling ever to hold your own child in your arms, someone who is of your flesh and blood. Stop all this new age nonsense of academics career independence. All you get in return are loneliness and frustration. Children are what make you whole, what makes life worthwhile.”
Akash fanned her desire for a child. But she was clueless as to how to go about it. Her MIL was as voluble as ever but silent on the physicality aspect. It was more than a year since they were married, weren’t the punditji’s restrictions over? Or did they still hold? Funny how initially her MIL would ask about the daily puja and remind her about the weekly pujas but slowly she had stopped asking.
Rajani felt awkward and embarrassed – was she supposed to do something? Was she supposed to make the first move?
Rajani didn’t have much time to brood for there was so much happening and she didn’t get a minute to herself. Her day began by 6 am and until midnight (sometimes even later) when all she wanted was to crash out and recharge for the next day.
There was home and kitchen work. A week before her return, the maid had left and they hadn’t yet found a suitable replacement. Since Rekha was working in a school, Akash would spend most days (and nights) at his Nani’s. Adorable as he was, keeping up with his bag of mischief and energy of a tornado was a backbreaking task.
Rekha would return around 4 pm but she hang around till Kuldeep returned from work. Often he would share a drink or two with his father in law, condescend to have dinner with them and then leave for home. More often than not, they would leave behind Akash behind for he was fast asleep and no point dragging him along since they would have to be back with him in the morning.
“I couldn’t sleep without him!” Sunaina would declare tearfully. “You can trust me with him during the day. Why not the night too?”
“But Mummy, he wakes up at night, he will disturb you…” Rekha would protest.
“No he wouldn’t! He couldn’t even if he tried. He’s a darling. Besides there’s Rani. She would love to keep him I am sure.” She would glance at her.
Obediently Rajani would lend her voice in support of her MIL. “Yes of course. Please leave him here, we really miss him when he’s not here.”
“If you insist!” Rekha would capitulate and dump the sleeping baby into Rajani’s waiting arms.
“But what about their space and privacy?” Kuldeep would protest.
“This is good practice for future!” She would wink and nudge before vanishing. That’s how it would play out night after night.
Weekends and holidays were even more hectic with something or the other planned. In this jam-packed schedule Rajani had to squeeze in her plans for a PhD at DU. Harsha accompanied her to DU helped her investigate, find out procedures and modalities. She submitted her application and was very hopeful of securing admission for the written test had been remarkably easy.
She could almost see it now – Dr. Rajani Ahuja…no that would be Dr. Rajani Goel.
Click here for the next chapter: A Surprise