Now that the last exam was over and done with, Shikha was free to analyze her own feelings about her upcoming nuptials. Rajani had been right – she was ready to marry and settle down. Moreover, after interacting with ‘him’ over phone she was beginning to be excited over her wedding.
“Look, that’s your to-be Jiju,” Shikha coyly thrust a photo into Rajani’s hand,” she coughed and unable to contain herself burst out, “Isn’t he handsome?”
“Beauty is skin deep.” Rajani quoted bleakly and went back to her laptop.
“No Rani, he is not just handsome, he is really sweet.” she rushed to defend him. “He has assured me that I can continue my studies even after we get married.” She blushed. “He doesn’t want to start a family anytime soon,” she laughed embarrassedly, “he wants us to first bond well, be really good friends,” she stared out of the window, “You know isn’t it amazing, he also loves to travel! Isn’t that great?” she clapped her hands ecstatically and twirled around the room, “My dream is coming true! He…”
“Does this ‘he’ have a name?” Rajani reluctantly looked up, happy for her friend. A gleam of humor shone through. “Or will you be known as Mr and Mrs He?”
“Amardeep Singh.” Shikha giggled relieved to see Rajani back in her usual good spirits; she sank down beside Rajani, took a deep breath and mindful of the conversation with her father just a few days ago, plunged right in, “Come on Rajani don’t be so adamant! Marriages are made in heaven – who knows you may find your soul mate? Maybe this is the Almighty’s way of closing a door but opening another window?” she coaxed.
Rajani raised an eyebrow.
“You know,” fumbled Shikha, “I am getting married and going away to the States, I know you will be lonely but,” she brightened, “but if you get married, you will find another friend, a better friend and soon you will forget me,” she completed a bit dolefully.
A crack of laughter escaped Rajani, “Make up your mind Shiks – should I get married so that you don’t feel guilty or should I not get married because I may forget you?” she teased.
“Oh Rani of course I want you to get married,” exclaimed Shikha, “But only because I want you to also experience the happiness that I am feeling right now, the joy of feeling complete, the sense of oneness, even though we are continents apart, oh I cannot even begin to describe the feeling Rani,” she gushed ecstatically, “You have to experience it to believe it, they are so right when they say, ‘somewhere, someone is made for you’,” she said dreamily.
“What rubbish! Are you completely out of your mind?” Rajani fumed. “I can’t believe this is you speaking Shikhs! Calm cool collected mature Shikha Suri going gaga over some man with whom she has had just shared a phone call or two! You haven’t even met the guy for heaven’s sake and look at you,” she jeered, “Soul-mate my foot.” She made a disgusted sound.
“There is no need to be so rude Rajani,” Shikha gathered her dignity about her and said formally, “I was just sharing my emotions and thoughts with my ‘friend.’ My apologies for disturbing you,” she turned away.
“Damn.” Rajani swore and rushed after her. “Sorry Shikhs sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you but,” she shrugged helplessly, “I can’t just believe in this filmy nonsense,” she bit her tongue and raised her hands, “Sorry, sorry, I want to believe of course but you know me right, always the skeptic,” she put a conciliatory hand on Shikha’s shoulder.
“Rajji, it’s not that you don’t believe in all this ‘filmy’ nonsense. It’s just that you are scared to believe it. You are just a scared cat, afraid of getting hurt. Otherwise you would have never pranced off with that Daku…”
“Never mind about me.” Rajani interrupted Shikha, “But I am happy for you, truly.”
“That’s right, change the topic, run away from the truth, lie to yourself.”
“Uff!” Rajani groaned. “Okay fine! I admit it. I have found my true soul mate, my life’s purpose….”
“What?!” Shikha grabbed hold of her shoulders, “And you never told me? How dare you Rani, I’ll never forgive you for this,” she shook Rajani, “Tell me who is it? Is it Daku? Have you been in touch with him on the sly?”
“God Shikhs you really are hung up on Manu.”
“Is it Harry?” Shikha brightened and then drooped at Rajani’s skeptical expression. “Come on tell me immediately otherwise I am calling up Ahuja uncle right now,” she dug out her phone and waved it threateningly.
Rajani stood there with a serene expression, “Please do so, in fact I am counting on you to do so,” Shikha stared at her blankly. “Come on go on, what are you waiting for?” challenged Rajani thoroughly enjoying herself – she felt the familiar bubble rise up within her.
Shikha stared at her suspiciously as she took in the bright eyes, the flickering nostrils, the quivering lips. “What do you mean? Tell me his name immediately,” she glared at her ferociously.
“His name is,” Rajani gasped almost incoherently, “Mr. Mathematics,” she whooped and went off into one of uncontrollable giggling fits.
“This is not funny Rajani,” said Shikha sternly, “We are having a serious discussion…”
Rajani stopped giggling long enough to mumble, “Yeah right, serious discussion about being ‘one’ with someone you haven’t even seen,” she clutched her tummy and bent over once again as the bubbles overcame her.
“You are a fine one to talk,” Shikha maintained her dignity, barely, “At least Amu exists,” she declared, “Your Mr Maths doesn’t even exist,” she scorned.
“Amu! Utterly butterly Amuuu,” Rajani was off again, rolling about on the bed.
Shikha gave up and joined in.
“Let’s leave him out of this,” ordered Shikha sternly in an attempt to restore order, “Let’s talk about your beloved,” She put a hand on her hips, narrowed her eyes and taunted, “I thought that ‘medicine’ was your first love?”
Rajani straightened and wiped her eyes, she gulped and said manfully, “exactly the point I am trying to make your honor, I thought medicine was my soul-mate but then I had formed these opinions without even meeting ‘medicine,” she fluttered her eyes and played with her nails, “Medicine rejected me, but Mathematics stood by me as it always had since childhood but I was blind, blind to his beauty, mesmerizing strength and logic,” Rajani waxed eloquent rather theatrically, “As I got to know more and more about Mathematics I became more and more enamored, what solid unshakeable fundas, either you are right or you are wrong, no half measures for maths and look at medicine, what can it give me but for pain, suffering and death,” she turned away and buried her face in the crook of her raised arms like the heroines of yesteryears.
Her shoulders shook and trembled – Shikha clapped a hand to her head and moaned, “God Rani you should have been in Bollywood!”
Rajani bowed low to gracefully acknowledge the compliment, “Exactly my dear Shikhs,” she pulled at her non-existent collar, “there are so many things to do in life and if I get married that will be,” she made a swiping motion at her throat, “end of all my dreams, my talents and creativity,” she declared.
“Why are you so negative Rani, have some faith in fate, who knows your life-partner will be instrumental in helping you realize your true potential and life’s goals?” argued Shikha, “Take my advice and at least consider Uncle’s proposition.” She quailed a bit at Rajani’s ferocious glare. She clicked her fingers. “I have an idea!”
“Marry Harry. I know he’s dying to propose to you. And at this stage Uncle won’t refuse…”
“Oh please Shikhs don’t complicate matters…”
“I am not complicating matters. I am simplifying them. Come on think of it. It’s the perfect solution. If you marry Harry, both of you can complete your studies and he is sweet on you, so he will let you rule the roost. He will be your permanent slave for life.”
“But I don’t want to marry him!” Rajani shook her head stubbornly, “I want to complete my studies first, earn money, make Papa proud of me, only then get married besides,” she paused, “I don’t like the idea of being dumped on some unsuspecting guy like a piece of unwanted baggage,” Rajani stuck to her guns.
“But Rajji, Harry isn’t just some…” began Shikha but Rajani held up her hand.
“Enough Shikhs,” Rajani snapped. She clasped her hands together and bowed low. “My best wishes are with you and wish you a long happy married life but can you please continue dreaming outside? I have to submit this article to Wiggy before I leave for the vacations.”
Shikha sighed and gracefully admitted defeat.
Shikha tried to raise the topic once again during their trip home, but Rajani said, “Do you realize that this is the probably the last time we are traveling together?” She held out her hand. “I don’t want to spend this time fighting and arguing with you, deal?”
Overwhelmed, Shikha had pulled her into a bear hug. “Deal,” she choked and steered clear of trying to convince Rajani to change her stance.
Click here for Chapter 109: Matters Escalate