Chapter 217: Pregnancy
“This won’t do Rajani,” Avantika exhorted, “you have to eat more.” She lowered her voice, “just look at Nidhi, she looks six months pregnant and you don’t even look as if you are pregnant.”
Rajani laughed. “Nothing like that Avi, it’s the dress. The cut is such that it doesn’t show.”
“Nonsense.” Pakhi snapped, “It’s not a joke!”
“I know it isn’t,” Rajani said carefully, “It’s just that I don’t feel like eating much.”
“What do you want to eat?” Tanya asked. “I’ll make and get it for you.”
Rajani shook her head and turned away. How could she tell them that there was never enough food at home? That she an educated, employed woman of the twenty first century had no access to the kitchen in her home? And that she continued to take this abuse? But never mind. It was just a matter of time. Her savior was coming.
Indeed the baby had already begun to work its magic. If her mother-in-law was becoming more and intolerant Harsha was more caring and considerate. The car which was bought with her salary and she had been convinced would be monopolized by Rekha was at her disposal. He didn’t want her traipsing around in the Metro, auto or someone else’ car. Not while carrying his baby anyway.
He had thrown a massive fit when Riteish had dropped her home that rainy day. But Rajani hadn’t been upset. She was in fact rather comforted and gratified. He cared!
These days, he called up twice or thrice at the office. And when the doctor said she was seriously underweight, Harsha made it a point to check her plate and ask about her diet at the dining table. He ordered that she eat eggs overruling his mother’s myriad taunts and objections.
“Don’t worry, Mummy, I’ll buy a separate pan for eggs and clean up the kitchen too. And eggs are not really alive.”
Rajani couldn’t help but be grateful and hopeful despite her MIL’s pointed sneering sarcastic comments out of Harsha’s earshot. Besides she had her office gang to look out for her. Someone or the other was sure to get something special for her. Fortuitously Aditi had apparently joined some cooking classes and she often brought extra large portions of new exotic dishes.
“What have you got today Ma’am?” Nidhi peered over Rajani’s shoulder. “Thai curry and rice? Wow. Looks delicious.”
Aditi smiled. “Try some. Rajani?”
“Yes Ma’am.” Rajani felt blessedly pampered. Thank you. She whispered silently to her little one.
“Rajani should you be driving?” Nidhi asked. “My husband would never let me drive in this condition. He says Metro is the best.”
“I didn’t know you could drive?” Pakhi said.
“Even if I did, he wouldn’t let me.” Nidhi clarified.
“That’s not really a good thing is it?” Avantika said. “I mean you should be free to make your own choices and decisions.”
“But here it is a question of the safety of his baby.” Nidhi said loftily.
“Not the mother? Just the baby?” Pakhi sneered.
“I like driving,” Rajani intervened, “especially the me time with the radio blasting on full volume and singing aloud tunelessly along with it.” She giggled. “If anybody heard me they would go deaf.”
They laughed. “Look there goes Riteish,” Nidhi nudged Rajani. “Ever since he got married, he is in a different world altogether.”
They snickered. Rajani felt only the mildest of a passing twinge at what could have been. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. She was having a baby, a baby of her own, who would love her and only her. What else could she want? Good for Riteish to move on and build a life of his own. But why couldn’t she shrug off this feeling that all was not well with him? He did look as if he was in his own world but not a happy place.
“Give me a lift?” Riteish stopped by her desk. “You’ve got your car haven’t you?”
Rajani nodded. “Where do you want to go?”
“Just half way through, on your way,” He said vaguely. “Any problem?”
Rajani shook her head.
“So all good with you and Shweta?” Rajani asked as maneuvered the car out of the parking lot after bit of a tussle with Riteish. He wanted to drive. “You didn’t go for a honeymoon?”
Riteish shrugged. “Everything happened so quickly. He father is still not completely recovered. She filed a case against the other guy. There are court visits. Besides, taking leave is such a big issue at the office.”
“But you need to make time for yourselves!” Rajani exclaimed. “Get to know each other…”
“The less we know the better it is.” He sounded bitter.
She looked at him in surprise and concern. “What’s the matter?”
“Act in haste, repent at leisure.”
“Don’t say that!” Rajani’s heart broke at his lost expression.
“It’s the truth. Marriages should be banned.”
“What happened? You too don’t get along or what?”
“We are poles apart. And she’s not at all the adjusting kinds. She wants everything her way.”
“She’s young and new. Give her some time, she’ll come around.” Rajani advised.
“I don’t think so.” Riteish shook his head. “We aren’t even married for a month and she’s demanding that I separate out from my parents.”
“Yes. My poor mother. She’s trying to adjust but Shweta doesn’t cooperate at all.”
“Maybe the problem is that she and your mother don’t get along?” Rajani ventured to say. “Perhaps your mother said something…”
“My mother could never say anything!” Riteish interjected. “She’s the kindest soul. Shweta doesn’t want to do any housework. My mother has to do everything.”
“Isn’t Shweta working?”
“Yeah. So? That doesn’t mean she won’t enter the kitchen. That my mother should slave away while she watches TV.”
“Maybe she gets tired. Why don’t you keep a cook?”
“Shweta wants to but Dad only likes food cooked by my mother.”
“That means he won’t like Shweta’s cooking either will he?”
“But she can try to learn from mother can’t she?”
“Why don’t you cook?”
“I do. Sometimes on Sundays.”
“Maybe Shweta can be given certain designated days to cook. Then you can get used to her way of cooking.”
“I guess that’s worth a try.” He didn’t sound very hopeful. “If you could stop the car over there?”
“Here?” Rajani was surprised. “What’s here?”
“Thanks for the lift.”
Rajani’s phone rang. “Hello Mamma. One minute.” She looked at Riteish. “What’s here?”
“Nothing. I’ll take the bus.”
“Thanks.” He got out of the car.
“Welcome. And all the best. Perhaps you should consider spending some time with Shweta build a rapport with her, understand her.”
“Bye. Hello Mamma.” She put the phone on speaker as she swung back into traffic.
“Whom were you talking to?”
“My colleague Riteish.”
“Still in office?”
“No. Almost half-way home.”
“Then what’s he doing with you?”
“Mamma please. He just wanted a lift.”
“Was there nobody else in office to take a lift from? Does he take a lift everyday?” Why…”
“Oh please Mamma. This is the first time he has asked me for a lift. He dropped me home in the torrential rain that day. I couldn’t refuse could I?”
Nisha sniffed. “You could have made some excuse. You know Harsha won’t like it. Remember how angry he was?”
“Harsha won’t know Mamma.”
“What if he does? Why create trouble for yourself.”
“Oh please Mamma, don’t make a big thing out of nothing.”
“I still don’t get it,” Nisha whined, “why did Riteish have to take a lift from you? Isnt he married?”
“I just gave him a lift Mamma!” Rajani prayed for patience. “That doesn’t mean we are having a torrid affair.”
“In our culture this is as good as having an affair.”
“He’s okay. He’s taken up a job in a private firm.”
“But why? What about his coaching classes?”
“He mostly takes evening classes. He says he’s free in the mornings.”
“But won’t that be an added pressure on him?”
“He wants to make sure his children don’t suffer from anything.”
“I don’t need any money from him!” Rajani flared up.
“He wants to give beta.” Nisha soothed. “He is always stressed about you. He wants to make sure you have a safe secure future. I am constantly praying that you have a boy. Then everything will be alright. Lucky Shikha, her second baby is also a boy.”
“Shikha had another baby?” Rajani was hurt. Shikha hadn’t told her! But then she hadn’t asked either. Somehow there was never any time. Or enthusiasm, she admitted to herself.
Hello friends thanks for waiting (that is if you were!) I am trying to bring in a change in tempo and hurry things up and there will likely be patches of ramblings and sudden leaps. I would really appreciate if you point out any major irritants, deviations and preferences. Somehow I feel as if I am losing the plot and any suggestion/constructive criticism is most welcome as it is a sign that you care! Thanks again 🙂