“If it’s not this, it’s the other,” Tanya fumed as she swished past Rajani to Aditi’s cabin.
Now what? Rajani fretted. Another typo?
“Avantika!” Rajani called as she passed by with her cup of tea. “What happened?” she nodded towards the cabin.
“Poor Tanya caught in power games.”
“I don’t understand.” Rajani said.
“What the Chief proposes, the Boss Lady disposes. But they don’t say it to each other. They pass messages and give earfuls to Tanya.”
“Yes. Oh.” Avantika drained her cup. “But why are you so low?”
“Nothing.” Rajani shook her head. “Had a late night. Brother went off to Canada.”
“I see. Missing him huh?”
Rajani mumbled indistinctly and turned back to her work.
Harsha’s mask had fallen off the moment they had dropped off Ritu and Abhi at the airport. “What the hell did you say to your father?” He ground out as he swerved out of the airport.
Rajani’s heart gave a leap. Papa had talked to him! But what had he said?
“I don’t understand. About what?”
“About us. About…damn all women. Can’t be trusted to keep their mouth shut.”
“I don’t get it. What did Papa say?”
“Papa said, not to worry beta,” he mimicked Suryakant, “if you can’t have a baby the natural way you can go for IVF.”
Rajani heart fell to her shoes. This was Papa’s solution?
“Why does he think we need IVF?” Harsha bore into heres.
“Papa…he was just trying to boost you. I was upset about…about not having a baby and,” Rajani scrambled to save the situation, “he…he probably thought you were depressed and was only trying to be helpful…”
“Helpful? How? By giving free advice? Do you know how expensive IVF is?
Rajani shook her head.
“Rupees 2 Lakhs per cycle and no guarantee that it will be successful. I V F.” He ground out derisively.
“Papa said he would give the money…” Rajani said defensively
“He said he would. He hasn’t has he?” Harsha sneered.
“He will.” Rajani promised.
“Papa,” Rajani called up her father on the way to office, “what did you say to Harsha? He’s really angry and….”
“You know about what Papa!” Rajani snapped. “I told you Papa we don’t have any…any…and now you want us to go for IVF?”
“Rani beta we can’t run away from situations that are handed to us. We have to make the best of what is given to us. If he…if he cannot, I mean if he does not, then it is best you go for IVF…”
“But for what purpose Papa. Isn’t it better to separate out, take a divorce…?”
“What nonsense you speak Rani!” Her mother jumped in. “Do you want to your father to die of shame?”
“Why should he die of shame? What’s his fault? What’s my fault in this?”
“It is always the parents of the girl’s fault. In our society, nobody blames the boy. Only the girl…”
“Let them blame me! I don’t care. Please Mamma, let me get out of here. I…I will go abroad, over there nobody cares who you are…”
“But we care. We will be here. People will point fingers at us and whisper behind our backs. Do you want your parents to live a life of shame and exclusion?”
But you have no objections to my living this life?
“Hey!” Avantika clicked her fingers, “where did you disappear?”
“Sorry. You were saying?”
“And on top of it, Nidhi just sent a message saying that she is on 10 days leave.”
“Ten days! Now? But I thought she was planning to take off for her wedding next month?”
“Exactly. And Tanya had made arrangements for a typist. But,” she looked around and lowered her voice, “I heard that Vijay,” She sighed impatiently at Rajani’s blank look, “Oho, the guy in sales, her boyfriend,” Rajani’s expression cleared, “it seems he landed up at her home and threw a massive tantrum.”
“No!” gasped Rajani horrified.
“Yes. He was thrown out. But her parents got worried and that’s why she was married off so quickly and quietly.”
“Oh.” Rajani could help adding her bit of masala, “That day also in office they had a major moment right here…”
“Don’t you girls have any work?” Aditi stood behind them.
Avantika slunk away and Rajani bent assiduously over her work, disconnecting her phone. Again. She was in no mood or position to talk to her mother. Besides what was there to talk about? This was her fifth call since morning. Pushing aside everything, she tried to focus on her work. But then Harsha called.
“What?” she whispered. “I’m busy.”
“So busy that you can’t even pick your mother’s phone call? Your father is in hospital.” He disconnected the phone.
Rajani panicked. “Hello Mamma? What happened? Is Papa okay?”
Nisha was weeping hysterically quite unable to speak. Drowning in guilt and panic Rajani stood up with the intention of transporting to Chandigarh instantly. “Rani,” her father’s voice was weak and low.
“Papa!” her legs gave way. “How are you?” she brushed away her tears.
“I’m okay beta. Had some chest pain…”
“Chest pain!” Rajani stood up again. “I’m coming.”
“No need beta.” Suryakant soothed her. “Harsha is here.”
“Harsha!” She was taken aback.
“Yes. When you didn’t pick your mother’s phone call, she panicked and called Harsha. He was in Ambala for some business work and he came over instantly. He only took me to the hospital and arranged everything.”
“Oh.” Rajani was silent. “But…but Papa, you are okay?”
“Yes beta.” He said reassuringly, “I am fine. My blood pressure had gone up. But now it’s under control.”
“Yes. They’ve given some medicines, but I am okay. They will probably discharge me tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow! I’m coming.”
“No need beta. Told you Harsha is here.” He sounded exhausted.
“Okay Papa. You rest. Take care Papa.” She wiped her face and called up Harsha.
“What?” He was curt.
But she too had been curt. Besides he had come through when needed. She swallowed and ignored her bruised feelings. “Thank you Harsha. I don’t know how to even…” she choked up.
“It’s okay.” He said gruffly. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” was all she could say.
Harsha wasn’t all bad!
Perhaps she was too immature.
Perhaps she did overreact.
Perhaps she needed to work harder at this relationship. If he could put his differences aside, so could she.
She would make this work.
And that would keep Papa healthy and happy.
She loved him so, she couldn’t bear to be the one to cause him any pain and anguish.
She wasn’t important. Papa was.