A/N and disclaimer/trigger warning (albeit belated)
Dear friends, thanks for your company and your comments especially the ones of protests and criticisms. I am extremely grateful and thankful for any note but more so for these ones for they force me think, connect and understand perspectives.
I accept the point made by smr (in the last post) about my responsibility as an author, there could be girls undergoing or in a similar situations and reading could be counterproductive or worse. I do remember someone making a similar comment earlier (I am afraid I am a bit hazy about my reaction at that point of time but if it was dismissive or not empathetic enough I apologize).
That said, I am writing this story (as you may have guessed) based on some real incidents from real life situations. It is not only that I just need to vent but I feel compelled to chronicle all the pitfalls in excruciating detail so that potential Rajanis can be forearmed, take informed decisions (earlier) and understand/learn from the mistakes that Rajani made/makes. Further I also feel compelled to unmask the abysmal and awful ground realities that are glossed over in eye catching sensational news articles.
A case in point: A couple of years ago there was a newspaper article on a Dr. Priya Vedi committing suicide after two years of marriage because her husband was gay and her in-laws were torturing her. Her parents complained (after she died) and asserted that she had attempted suicide earlier as well.
My question is why would an educated doctor with no offspring to worry about commit suicide for such a reason? Divorce would be a simple and easy alternative. So why didn’t she take that route? My suspicion is that it was simply because her parents did not support her and mentally abused and blackmailed her into adjusting. They were clearly aware of her ‘situation’. She had tried to commit suicide (a plea for help) but with no resolution or option is sight she took this extreme step again. Possibly also with the hope of surviving – alprax overdose not the most foolproof way of suicide and a doctor would know that. Priya Vedi’s tragedy (and other real incidents) compelled me to document Rajani’s journey.
But I accept what Ferdi stated, it is a torture to read, and frankly I wouldn’t read such a frustrating and depressing story either. And smr is right. As an author, I need to give solutions and hope. Rest assured, I fully intend to give Rajani a happy ending – but, that is still some way off as I still have to to unmask a couple of more things. I will try my best not to stretch it out too much.
In view of smr’s comments, I have put up trigger alert notes at the beginning of each section from Section 2 onwards for any person who may be actually going through such a situation or may be too sensitive to read it. And I am putting this note here for anyone who may have come this far. Things are going to get worse and if you find this disturbing, I urge you not to read any further. Leave me your mail ID (here or send it to email@example.com) I will personally let you know when things improve/sorted out so that you don’t have to suffer agonies while Rajani goes through her personal hell.
Or I could simply stop posting in agonizing bits and pieces, write out the whole thing and post it in one piece say a couple of months down the line. Do let me know which option you would prefer.
Chapter 228: Some More Options
“Okay,” Pakhi landed up at Rajani’s station, “I talked to a friend who talked to a friend of a lawyer. Here,” she thrust a note into her hand, “Talk to her.”
“About your options, what else? Go on!” she urged. “You have to do something before it is too late.”
“Nothing’s going to happen Pakhi,” Rajani was depressed and low. “So much is happening, my head is spinning. There’s a wedding in the family, guests are expected, spring cleaning is on, Ani’s still not recovered …”
“Just talk to her.” Rajani quailed at the militant look in Pakhi’s face. “Will you?” her eyes bored into hers. She softened. “I am on your side!”
Rajani nodded. “I know. But it’s just that I am so tired. I wish I could sleep.”
“Later,” Pakhi said briskly tapping the note, “First things first.”
Rajani nodded. “I will.”
“And I will check up with you later,” Pakhi said and sure enough she wandered by with a cup of tea later in the day, “Well?”
“I talked to her. She said she handles divorce cases, which are uncontested and mutual. Other cases become very messy and she also advised me to seek parental support. Without them…” she shrugged helplessly.
“God! This is so damn frustrating! How can she refuse…?”
“She didn’t exactly refuse. She just gave another lawyer’s number who handles such cases.”
“Oh good then you consult him, or is it her?”
“Him.” Rajani looked at Pakhi apprehensively. “I hope it is safe to go to him. After the house hunting fiasco…”
“Don’t worry,” Pakhi said robustly, “I’m sure it will be fine. Or I could come with you?”
Rajani shook her head. “Thanks. I will go. I have to learn how to manage things by myself.” She smiled wanly as Pakhi pumped a fist into the air. “Yes! That’s my girl. Show them what you’re made off.”
Having won her case, Pakhi walked off triumphantly and seeing his chance, Riteish accosted her. “Let’s have coffee some place.” Riteish proposed.
Rajani stared at him and almost regretfully shook her head. “I can’t.”
“I want to talk to you. Please.” He insisted.
“I can’t be late home. Anisha misses me.”
“I miss you too.”
Rajani’s heart thudded at his expression. “I laid bare my heart and you didn’t even say anything.” He accused her softly.
“What could I say Riteish?” Rajani pleaded without committing herself. “You’re married. I’m married. I have a child…”
“We can sort out anything. Find a solution. If you would but talk to me.”
“There’s no time during office hours.”
“Meet me tomorrow at the Café Coffee day. It’s Saturday…”
“What about my daughter?”
“Bring her along.”
“She’s not well.”
“She will enjoy the outing.”
“What will I tell everybody at home?”
“What I will say. I am going out.”
Rajani shook her head. “Nobody will question you. Harsha goes out for dinner, comes back at 2 am and nobody dares question him. But if I am 15 minutes late I have to give an hour’s explanation.”
“Where does he go so late at night?”
Rajani looked at him with a hunted expression. “I wish I knew.”
“Is he involved with some woman?”
Rajani played with her pencil. “I’m very sure it’s not a woman.” She muttered after a long pause without looking at him. When he didn’t say anything, Rajani looked at him.
She forced herself to meet his eyes. He was staring at her with a puzzled questioning look. She nodded.
With a muffled curse he bounced off his seat and strode off. Restless and agitated Rajani flipped the pages of her manuscript. Why did he react like that? He didn’t by any chance blame her did he? How could he do that?! It wasn’t her fault. Rajani couldn’t even in all honesty blame even Harsha. He was just as much a victim of ‘Society’ as she was. If she was trapped, so was he. Oh what an awful mess she had gotten into. And it was all Bhai’s fault. No. Papa’s fault. No. Society’s fault. It was because of ‘Society’ rules and norms that they were all in this mess. Where was the office of Society? Where could they all go and plead for some leniency? If only there was…
“Damn them.” Riteish was back.
“What?” Relieved to have him back and apparently not angry or disgusted with her Rajani asked. “You think Shweta is also…?”
“I don’t think. I know.” The image on his screen took on a dark brooding hue.
“What happened?” Despite her own tragedies, Rajani’s heart went out to Riteish. He looked so broken and lost.
“Come for coffee with me.” He repeated. “Let’s leave a bit early.”
“How can we? What will we say?”
“You make some excuse and leave. I will follow in a little while. I’ll meet you in the parking.”
“Sorry!” Riteish panted as he jogged to where she was sitting in her parked car for over quarter of an hour. “Aditi Ma’am caught hold of me.”
Rajani paled. “I hope you didn’t say anything about me.”
“I had to.”
“No!” Rajani gasped.
“I didn’t take your name! I said I had to meet someone urgently.”
“What were you saying about Shweta?” Rajani squashed down on her misgivings.
“Let’s go some place first. Shall I drive?”
Rajani shook her head as she slid the car into gear. “No. I don’t have time for coffee. We’ll speak on the way and I’ll drop you at your usual place.”
“We need to speak about Harsha too.”
“What’s there to talk about him?” Rajani shrugged. “This…this revelation is a relief in some ways. All these years he blamed me and I also blamed myself. But it is a relief to know that it is not my fault,” Oh God what the hell was she saying, revealing? “Anyway what about Shweta?”
“Please Riteish, don’t waste time arguing okay? We don’t have much time as it is. What about Shweta?” Rajani’s tone brooked no opposition.
“It wasn’t dowry that broke Shweta’s marriage. It was because the groom had gotten to know about her affair with a classmate. He accosted her at the wedding and she turned the tables by accusing him of demanding dowry.”
“Oh. But that’s awful.” Exclaimed a horrified Rajani. “Poor man to be falsely accused…”
“At least he got out marrying her.” Riteish wore a bleak expression. “I am the one who got caught in the cross-fire.”
“But…but I can’t believe Shweta…that anybody could actually do that!”
“That’s the problem with you. Never make the mistake of thinking people to be as good and straightforward as you.”
“No. It’s not possible.” The more Rajani thought about it the more difficult it was to swallow. “Who told you this?”
“I had it from the horse’ mouth.”
“Yes. Her ex-groom. He was arrested and then released because the charges couldn’t be proved. Now you don’t have any doubts do you?”
“Then I believe even less! I am sure he’s just taking revenge. I am sure he bribed his way out of the case.”
“Look I am telling you…”
“Did you talk to Shweta?”
“The day I talk to her will be my last day with her. I have had my suspicions for some time but now…”
“Talk to her Riteish. Give her a chance. You owe her that much.”
“But why are we talking about sorting out things with Shweta? I want to talk about us!”
Rajani looked at him helplessly.
“Well? Say something. Anything.” He cried passionately. “One word from you and I’ll never bother you again.”
“Much as I would like to talk about…about,” she cleared her throat and chickened out, “please talk to Shweta first.” She braked the car near his drop off point.
“I will,” Riteish promised, “But are you ready to leave your husband? Go against your parents?”
Rajani was silent.
“Will you at least think about it?”
Rajani swallowed and nodded.
A/N On a happier note, for readers of SS just in case you missed it, I posted Ashubh Muhurat 🙂 Dont forget to leave me a note, here and there.