“Hello! Look who’s here?” The girls crowded Rajani as she landed up at the office with Anisha in her arms. “Oh she’s so cute! A delicate rosebud.”
“Ani, say hello.” Rajani coaxed her daughter.
“Allo?” She said obediently casting a curious look around before hiding her face in her mother’s shoulder.
“Aww.” They gushed and fanned over her. “Do you want a toffee? A chocolate.” Anisha shook her head and buried herself closer to her mom.
“Rajani why are you wearing dark glasses?” Aditi asked.
“Good morning Ma’am. Just…I mean I have an eye infection, so I thought I would go home for a few days. I…I came to drop off the manuscripts.”
“What kind of eye infection?” Tanya asked reaching out to Anisha for a cuddle.
“I don’t know.” Mumbled Rajani. “Red and itchy…”
“You didn’t show a doctor?”
Rajani shook her head.
“Let me see.” Aditi reached out and took off her glasses. They gasped. Her right eye was black and blue.
“He hit you.” Aditi’s voice was flat.
“Rajani,” Tanya cut in worriedly, “I think Anisha has fever. She’s very warm.”
“I know.” Rajani said dully. “But I couldn’t stay there another minute.”
“Did you give her any medicine?”
“The doctor’s given some medicine for her. She has heat stroke.”
“Heat stroke? But it isn’t even so hot. And should you be traveling with her in this condition?” Tanya could help the note of censure in her voice.
“I’m sure she has good reason. Right Rajani?” Aditi’s eyes bored into her.
“My MIL took Anisha shopping in her new car.” Rajani was pale and gaunt. Her cheekbones stood out in sharp relief against her paper-thin skin. “And left her in the car under the blazing sun for over an hour.”
“How could she?” Tanya gasped.
“She forgot.” Rajani’s tone was dull and even but her eyes flashed fire. “She met someone at the store and got chatting.”
“When did this happen?” Aditi asked.
“Yesterday around noon.”
“But you were in office yesterday?” Pakhi said. “You didn’t know then did you?”
Rajani shook her head. “When she went back to the car she saw Anisha, who was semi-conscious. She panicked and called Harsha. They took her to the doctor who said she had heat stroke and was dehydrated. He put her on a drip and they returned home just as I entered. So they had to tell me.”
“But…but why…how did you get the black eye?” Pakhi asked.
“That was probably my fault.” Rajani held out her arms and took the distressed baby into her arms. “I lost my temper and blasted her. Harsha intervened and tried to make light of it and dismiss it as a non-event. I was even more infuriated and called him a bloody b*st**rd. That was when he hit me.”
“What are you going to do now?”
“I can’t stay there. I can’t!” There was a touch of hysteria in her voice.
“You don’t have to justify or rationalize your decision to us Rajani,” Aditi cut in, “what you need to do is chalk out a path to realize it. Have you thought about that?”
“Daddy!” Wailed Anisha. “Daddy.”
Rajani shushed and cuddled Anisha. “I called Papa. He was driving. He said he would get back to me.”
Tanya looked at Aditi and then at the office clock. “When did you call him?”
Rajani looked at Tanya with sudden realization. No! Papa would call. He said he would! “Maybe I should call him again.” Rajani hunted for her phone. “Oh the battery is discharged,” she was relieved.
“Rajani you can sit in my cabin and sort out your domestic issues. Use my phone,” Aditi said, “and the rest of you can go back to work.” Pakhi gave her shoulder a squeeze and went off with Tanya.
Riteish hung around. “You should file an FIR with the police.” He wore a dark look.
Rajani shook her head. “Maybe when my father comes.”
“Why wait for your father? Go now. Strike the iron while it is hot. The law is on the side of women. You just have to complain. They will put him in jail and he will never ever even think of raising his hand.”
Rajani quailed. “I couldn’t…” she mumbled. “I’ll wait for Papa.”
“Where will I go with Anisha?” She objected. “She’s so delicate and underweight as it is. Her temperature is rising and she’s asking for her father. I am now wondering if I did the right thing in getting her here.”
“Go back to work Riteish,” Aditi interrupted. “Let her sort it out.”
“I would if she could.” He ground out before stomping off. Rajani looked helplessly at Aditi who looked at her grimly. “He’s right. You should file an FIR.”
“I will. With Papa. I’m afraid to go to the police station alone. And…and I don’t want them to thrash Harsha,” her voice wobbled, “He is Anisha’s father after all.”
“But it’s okay that they left Anisha in the car.” Aditi snapped.
“It wasn’t Harsha. It was his mother. If there was some way I could send her to jail I would!” She said fiercely.
“Your choice.” Aditi said. “But be warned, there’s something called being too kind. Instead of cherishing and appreciating your soft-heartedness they will see it as a weakness. Besides, it would hurt your MIL more to see her son in jail than be in it.”
“Not her.” Rajani shook her head. Her phone rang. Rajani grabbed it. “Hello Papa. Are you coming? Oh. Why what happened?”
There was an excited crackle as Suryakant spoke. “It’s okay Rani. Everything is sorted. I’ve spoken to your FIL. Go back home.”
“I CAN’T. Didn’t you hear what Harsha said? He hit me and told to get out of HIS home!”
“How can he say that? You’re married to him. That’s your home by law. Why should you leave it? Let them say what they like. It’s your home. You have every right to stay there and do what you like.”
“But I want to go home to Chandigarh!” Rajani begged. “Papa please let me come home. Ani’s not well Papa. She’s running a high fever. All because…”
“All the more reason you should go back home beta,” Suryakant cut it. “It will take at least 5 to 6 hours to come here. What if Anisha takes a turn for the worse? How will you manage alone? Listen to me. Be practical. Go back home, make sure Anisha is comfortable. She is your first priority.”
“Papa please,” was all that Rajani could say.
Aditi grabbed the phone from Rajani and said harshly, “This is Aditi, Mr Ahuja. I will take the responsibility of dropping Rajani and her daughter home, safe and sound, if you will agree to keep her.”
“G…good morning Madamji. So kind of you.” Suryakant gushed. “There’s no need to bother yourself….”
“It’s no bother. Yes or no.” Aditi was curt.
“She’s over-reacting Madamji. She has always been an emotional person, right from childhood. And she shouldn’t have said what she said…”
“The circumstances justified it I think,” Aditi, said, “not everyone can live with the thought of their daughter being roasted alive.” She said pointedly.
“Of course not. Of course not.” Suryakant fell over himself trying to appease Aditi. “I’ll take a cab right away and come to Delhi. I promise to sort out any issues. My wife is prostrated with grief and despair, let me just manage her, I’ll come to Delhi. Don’t worry Madamji I’ll make everything right again. I’d like to speak to my daughter please.”
Still fuming Aditi handed the phone back to Rajani.
“I’m coming beta. Don’t worry Rani everything will be fine. Just be rational and practical beta. Calm down and take care of Anisha first. Poor thing is caught in this mess and no fault of hers. Do you want her to suffer more? No right? Go home. Nobody will say anything to you. I guarantee you that. And don’t make a public spectacle of your marital life. These things happen. Don’t blow it out of proportion. Grow up Rani and deal with this maturely, keeping your petty ego aside.”
Rajani laid her head on the table, the fight going out of her.
A/N Things are looking pretty bleak for Rajani isnt it. Like I said things will get worse before they can get better. So please bear with us. And until then, if there are any readers of SS and fans of IPK, here’s a little update from their lives – Just Another Day – in two parts. Hope you like and even if you dont do leave me a note. Thanks!
Click here for the next chapter: A Confession