Part 2: Derailed

Chapter 107: The Bombshell

Abhi called Rajani in the evening, “Hi Rani.” he was clearly very upbeat. “How did your exams go?”

“Hello Bhai. Okay I think.” Rajani was happy to hear from him. Besides she desperately needed his shoulder to cry on – she couldn’t wait to tell him about Shikha’s impending wedding, her fears and request his help to convince her parents to let it not affect their decision and allow her to complete her Masters. “How’s everything with you?”

“Great, just great! Guess what?” he said clearly bursting with news.

Inexplicably Rajani’s heart sank. “What?”

“Ritu and I are getting married. I proposed and she agreed.” He apparently couldn’t believe his luck. “Isn’t that great?”

“Oh that’s great news Bhai congratulations,” Rajani was thrilled. “When’s the wedding?”

“Sometime end of January, we haven’t set the exact date yet.” There was something odd in Abhi’s voice.

“Oh super Bhai, then I can attend both Shikha’s and your wedding,” she paused. “Don’t you have your final exams in May Bhai?” Doubts assailed her. “Have you told Mamma and Papa? Have they agreed? What about her parents?”

“Yes, yes, all that is fine, everybody knew about our relationship in any case, it was just a question of when we would get married not if,” said Abhi a bit impatiently. “Exams are not an issue,” he dismissed.

Rajani stilled – that dread was back. “So what’s the problem?”

Abhi hemmed and hawed for a while and then came clean. “It’s your precious Papa. He is acting funny, making weird conditions,” he burst out.

“Like?” Rajani asked confused.

“Papa said that he has no problem in my marrying any one so long as you got married first,” Abhi said.

“Me get married first!” burst out Rajani incredulously, “Now where did that come from? He knows very well that I want to complete my Masters, go in for higher studies, get a job and only then think of getting married, and besides I am barely 20 years of age, I don’t want to get married so soon,” she wailed.

“You know Papa right? Once he gets a bee in his bonnet nobody can convince him otherwise,” said Abhishek rather dejectedly, “Look I am really sorry to put you in a fix but you got to get married before January end so that I can get married soon afterwards…”

“No way Bhai,” Rajani interrupted heatedly, “How is that even possible? First of all where is the groom? You just can’t get me married to the first guy you find on the road can you? And to make arrangements for not one but two weddings and that too at such a short notice, impossible,” Rajani closed the argument from her side.

“Don’t worry your head about those details,” Abhi said in soothing tones, “You just agree to the wedding in principle and we’ll manage the rest don’t you worry Rani dear,” he said.

“How?” asked Rajani, “Easier said than done isn’t it, Papa will have to do everything, after all you have your duties at the hospital and exams in May where do you have the time to ‘manage’ everything?” scoffed Rajani.

“Yeah of course I am busy, but Ritu is free right now and she will help Papa in everything,” Abhi said.

“Let me talk to Ritu, I am sure she will understand when I say that I don’t want to get married now, maybe she can convince Papa…”

“Do you think we haven’t tried?” it was Abhi’s turn to interrupt, “Besides, Ritu’s parents are terribly keen to get her married off as soon as possible now that she finished her MD they don’t want to put off the wedding any longer,” he paused, “I also would have preferred to get married after I had gotten over my exams but,” he coughed. “Ritu’s relatives from the States are all coming to India for another wedding in January and this way they could attend her wedding as well.”

“This is crazy,” protested Rajani rather wildly, “Get married by January end? And why should I? You convince Papa or postpone your wedding I don’t care, I am not getting married to any Tom Dick or Harry for such flimsy reasons,” she disconnected the phone and burst into angry tears.

“Rajji! What’s the matter? Rajji?!!!” All the girls crowded her. Since Rajani had the rather loud and acrimonious conversation in the corridor, the gist of the conversation was pretty clear to all concerned. Shikha had been chewing her nails in dread.

“You know what the matter is!” Rajani bawled. “I have to get married too. At least you have a groom, somebody who wants to marry you. I don’t even have that. Who knows they will marry me off to a donkey or something that goes hee haw.” Rajani caught her breath and went off into peals of laughter as she visualized herself garlanding a donkey.

“Crazy. Completely, utterly bonkers.” The girls looked at each other and sighed.

“The shock dislodged whatever few screws she had.”

“Mad. I tell you MAD.”

“Shut up Rajji. Shut up.”

“I ca…caan’t.” She giggled and sobbed. “I don’t want to get married Shikhs I really don’t.”

“Then don’t. This isn’t the middle ages or something. I am sure your father will listen to reason. Just relax. Your brother’s a big tease. We are going home next week. We’ll sort it out then face-to-face. No point in arguing on the telephone. Just calm down and focus on building your case. I am sure your brother misunderstood. Why would you need to get married first? Preposterous.”

Overwrought, Rajani cried to her heart’s content while Shikha blabbered on and on in an attempt to ease her pain and anguish at the sudden turn in their fortunes.

Rajani was then treated to an impassioned plea from Abhi (via sms) ‘Please don’t say anything to Dad. He will murder me. Focus on your exams. I thought they had gotten over. All the best, do well and see you soon.

Rajani squinted at the message through swollen eyes. She showed it to Shikha. “Look at what Bhai has texted.”

“See! Bhai was exaggerating. It’s not that big a deal. I think your father would like you to get married. But that hardly means he is going to force you. So chill.”

Feeling lighter, Rajani nodded. Yes Papa would never force her.

“Great! Now can we study please? We’ll surely flunk this exam.” Shikha groaned.

Rajani hurriedly pushed everything to the back and pulled up her socks. Shikha was right. First things first – if they didn’t want to flunk.

Click here for Chapter 108: Differing Views
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