Chapter 180: No Let Up

If it weren’t for Sameer, the Ahuja house would have been a mausoleum. A deathly silence and a pall of gloom and doom hung like a thick shroud over the house, Sameer’s shrill cries the only respite from the deafening silence.

Entangled and imprisoned in a web of her own making Rajani sank into a world of nightmares, warped tortuous thoughts from which there was no escape.

She dreamed she was hanging from the edge of the terrace.

She wanted to desperately let go and yet she was unable to do so.

And there was Harsha holding her baby his arms.

He smiled at her.

He offered her the baby.

Heart thudding she held out her arms eagerly.

Still smiling he dropped the baby from the terrace.

Rajani’s mouth opened in a soundless scream.

Papa!!!

Papa please.

 Papa please.

 She moaned delirious as fever racked her.

Hours, days, weeks passed, as did Diwali. Rajani made a slow recovery. The fever subsided but she was wan and listless.

Nisha made constant efforts to make her see reason.

“You are married now Rani. Your place is by your husband’s side not at your parents. What will everyone think? What you are doing is not right.”

What about me? What do I think? What happened to me is that right? Is it fair?

 But nobody cared for her questions besides she knew the answers.

She wasn’t important – family was; society was.

 She didn’t matter – Harsha did.

 Life wasn’t fair – it was all about doing the right things.

 It was time she grew up and faced reality.

Even though her father didn’t pester her or question her, she felt his disapproval and unhappiness more keenly than her mother’s.

She tried her best to rise up to his expectations but every time she gathered up courage to even think of Delhi she broke out in a cold sweat. I am sorry Papa. I can’t do it. Not even for you. She wept silent bitter tears and turned a determined blind eye to the silent condemnation and accusatory looks that Bhai and Bhabhi sent her way.

Or was that her overactive guilty imagination?

Rajani dearly wished she move on, make a fresh start but everyone seemed to be waiting for her to climb down her high horse and crawl back to that hellhole.

They could hope and pray all they liked, she wouldn’t budge from here. This was her home too, she thought.

Or was it?

 The home she had grown up with suddenly wasn’t enough for all of them.

Or for just her?

Relegated to the settee in the drawing room she couldn’t help but be glad that they weren’t the social kinds, unlike her in-laws. She felt a grim satisfaction as she thought of the questions they were in all likelihood having to field regarding her continued absence.

Serve them bloody right.

Sameer was the only bright spark in her life and even he was bittersweet. She would never have a baby of her own. She would never see Akash again. He had just begun to say Mami in his adorable baby voice. Mami Mami Mami he would chant while clapping his hands standing in the middle of the room. Who was taking care of him now? Was he crying for his Mamma?

His Mami?

Another betrayal.

She buried her face in Sameer’s warm body and muffled her sobs in his tummy.

“If only you had a child,” Nisha moaned, “everything would be fine. Why aren’t you pregnant?” She asked baldly.

Rajani paled. She opened her mouth but no words came out. She ducked her head.

“Oh I wonder if that is why your in-laws are so upset?” Nisha fretted. “Are your periods okay?” She paused. “Wait. It’s been over a month, didn’t you get your periods yet?” She held her breath.

Rajani shook her head. “I haven’t got them for over two months now.”

“Oh!” Nisha was overjoyed. “I’ll go and get a pregnancy kit right away.” She scrambled up.

“Mamma…”

But Nisha was gone.

“Go on. Take the test. Hurry.” She clasped her hands and prayed. “Go on!” she pushed her. “Bhagwanji please, Bhagwanji please….”

Resignedly Rajani went through the motions and reported the negative results.

Nisha’s face fell ludicrously. “I’ll get another. The kit must be out of date. I’ll ask Ritu to give you a check up.”

“I am not pregnant Mamma.”

“How do you know? You are such a child. You don’t know anything.”

“No Mamma. You don’t know anything.”

“What don’t I know?”

“Never mind Mamma.”

But Nisha wouldn’t rest. She had found the culprit and she would sort it. She roped in Ritu and made Rajani go through a battery of tests. “PCOD? Hormonal issues?” She was taken aback. “Will she be able to conceive?”

“With treatment, hopefully yes.” Ritu said cautiously.

Suryakant insisted on taking her to the city’s most famous and renowned specialists. Tests were undertaken again, treatment started and reassurance given. Nothing so serious that couldn’t be cured or managed with a bit of skill and money.

“Now everything will be fine.” Suryakant was content.

Yeah right.

 If only she could speak. If only she could tell them. But she had promised Harsha. She couldn’t betray his trust could she? Besides what good would that do? She didn’t want to stay married to him, period.

“How long can you going to continue like this Rajji?” Shikha asked from afar.

“What else can I do?” typed back Rajani on her mother’s phone.

“Do something. Take a stand.”

“I have taken a stand.”

“Well then take the next step.”

“I don’t know what the next step should be.”

“Where do you see yourself in say five or even ten years?”

“Teaching Math in a college. A PhD degree in hand.” A baby girl in my arms.

“That’s great. So how about taking that first step towards that goal?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“My certificates are in Delhi.”

“Well get them then.”

“I am not going back there.”

“Come on Rajji, you have to.”

“No I don’t have to.”

“Ask your Bhai to go to Delhi get it.”

“Yeah right.”

“Meaning?”

“Never mind.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing. You tell me, how are you? Has your baby started kicking yet? It is a boy right?”

“Yes it is a boy. Yes he has started kicking.”

“How are you managing alone? When is Aunty going?”

“Mummy will be coming next month. Amu is very caring and helps around the house. Plus we have a lady who comes in thrice a week.”

“That’s nice. Hope you are eating well? Have you put on weight?”

“But of course! I am a football now. It’s that Ritu isn’t it?”

“What?”

“Your Bhabhi. She’s the one creating trouble right?”

“No. Bhabhi doesn’t say anything. Mamma is the one who goes on and on.”

“Sometimes it is the silence that is more damning and killing than the nagging.”

Tears slid down Rajani’s cheeks. “I am impressed. How do you know?”

“My MIL is a doctorate at the silent treatment. She never spoke an ill word against me, at least not in my presence. Yet when she was here, we fought like cats and dogs.”

“About what?”

“I have no clue.”

“That’s funny.”

“No it is sad. So Ritu giving you the vibes is it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. Or Mamma. She keeps nagging Papa about building another room on the roof.”

“What is Papa saying?”

“Nothing. He doesn’t speak, eat or sleep. At least that is what Mamma says. I feel so damn guilty I can’t tell you.”

“I can imagine. But it’s not your fault. It is theirs. They shouldn’t have forced you to get married. You weren’t ready.”

“But nobody is ready to accept that. Can you believe that my MIL sent sargi before Karwa Chauth? Mamma insisted that I keep the fast. She made elaborate arrangements, held up a photo of Harsha…” Rajani froze in the midst of her typing.

Think of the Devil.

Her mother’s phone was ringing.

Sunainaji

 Heart thudding, Rajani almost dropped the phone while handing it to her mother.

“Namaste Sunainaji, Namaste. How nice of you to call.” Gushed Nisha. “Oh! That is great! So happy to hear that! So nice of you to call. Welcome, welcome. Yes yes, of course of course, she is now more your daughter. She dare not refuse you. I have brought her up to be an obedient good girl. But I have to confess sometimes the spirit of youthfulness carries her away. Don’t worry with time and age this too shall go away. As her mother and teacher I humbly request you to forgive her follies and give back her status and position in your family. Oh you are so kind and generous. Yes, yes, we look forward to seeing you. Have a safe journey. Namaste Sunainaji Namaste.”

***

“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.”Ethan Hawke, The Hottest State

 

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20 thoughts on “Chapter 180: No Let Up”

  1. Rajani underwent fertility tests? OMG- too much. She can’t tell the truth, speak her mind at home. Which of course, is no ‘sharan’ any more. I wait to see what Karwa Chauth has to offer. I do hope she runs away. Or something.

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  2. If she cannot say that they have not consummated the marriage she should say ask Harsh why they cannot have a child? There are times when it is better to break a promise and self-preservation is one such time.Does she owe her loyalty to Harsha who I do not think deserves it?

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      1. They did all sorts of tests on her and no one asked about Harsha?Why it has to be Rajani’s fault? Could the doctors not tell that she was still a virgin (or am I being stupid and ignorant?) her mother is worst than her mother in law. All she wants her to be gone. She is not listening to what Rajani is saying or not saying. Rajani will have to take the matters in hand, she can not sit and do nothing, She is educated and surely someone or some organisation can help her to be independent. Perhaps in India, it is not easy. I just do not want her to give up but that is what will happen..

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      2. I hope she will not give up and perhaps that is her failing. If she gave up she would have run away or taken an extreme step which may have helped matters more than her attempts to please all parties. It is tough for a young girl untutored in the ways of the world and parents as their world to think for themselves and that too a decision that is hers and solely hers. How many of us can actually be brave enough to do that I often wonder.

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  3. When you are young all the decisions are taken by your parents and you are protected and cosseted. I was the same but as soon as I stepped alone on the ship to come to India I became independent and took all the decisions from then on without referring to my parents and I was just 17. But I was not the only one, the whole ship full of young boys and girls were in the same situations. We were thrown into a different world and had to cope and survive. I am glad to say we thrived and dealt with whatever problems that came our way. I am sure if Rajani is pushed out of the nest she will learn to fly.

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    1. Yes I agree. I went off to the hostel when i was 12 and am used to taking decisions since then. In Rajani’s case it is different. She is getting a lot of conflicting advice and the idea of going it alone hasnt even struck her. Perhaps if she was financially independent had her certificates had a job…

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      1. Wow at 12 I was very childish. Hats off to you were/are very strong. But being away from home does prepare one for the life. Perhaps Rajani could give private maths tuition to earn money. And then she can ask for copies of the certificates from the Uni. There are ways if only she tries. On the other hand, I better quit this discussion before I become too boring and pedantic. Good Night Dahlia

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      2. Those are very good options Ferdi and I am sure she will consider them sooner or later. Unless something else pops up. Please feel free to rant – any reaction is better than silence right 😉 Gnit 🙂

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  4. You know Dahlia, now that I have calmed down I am sympathetic toRajani’s situation. It is not easy to leave home without money or/and support from family or friends .There are unscrupulous people out there who take advantage of a lone female. I can appreciate that Rajani may decide to bow down and go back to her sasural.

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    1. Thanks a lot Ferdi – you made my day! I feel as if I have won a battle. We so often get angry at the victim for not taking a stand. But then being blessed and lucky enough to take security and support for granted can we really understand her concerns? Particularly if someone has always been a ‘good’ girl. How can she think of just going it alone? In fact she took a huge risk by making that night trip to Chandigarh alone. She was lucky to emerge out of that foolhardy act safe adn sound. But that was at the heat of the moment, when you have time to reflect, consider and plan, better (and survival instincts) sense prevails – as it should. No job no friends no relatives what are her options? Thank you 🙂

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      1. Thank you, Dahlia.I feel such a fool.I wrote such a load of codswallop. Looking forward to seeing what is Rajani going to do or forced to do?
        By the way, I did get (though not straight away) where Ferdi came from. I like it. Thanks.

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      2. Not at all Ferdi – been there done that. After I stopped raving and ranting at Rajani’s state I got down to seeing things as they were. I understand and realize the need to fight this particular battle as well…

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  5. Aren’t these experiences good enough to say “enough is enough”…she has been away from her family for her studies…didn’t those years make her any more wiser ?

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    1. That’s the thing, she’s been with her parents for even longer. It is easy to follow instructions than to take decisions of their own. I do feel this is where boys and girls differ. Boys are more likely to go against the general flow and take decisions that suit them regardless how it might impact others. Girls are forever worried about what others will think, how they will be impacted and even if she does rebel it will either be at the behest/support/encouragement of her husband or parents. Of course there are exceptions in both categories.

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