Rajani heaved a sigh of relief when Harsha was discharged from the hospital. She felt a huge burden had rolled off her mind. Despite all the reassurances, the disbelief in astrology, the twenty-first century, her logical mathematical brain, she couldn’t help feeling guilty and responsible for Harsha’s plight.
Harsha’s mother was a huge support and Rajani developed a bond with her as she called up often to keep Rajani posted about her son’s health. She also made Harsha talk to Rajani and scolded him for not being nicer to her.
“Forgive this son of mine. He has no manners.” She rued. “But mostly, it is because he is so shy. He has always avoided the company of girls. He’s really been a very good boy – very caring and considerate by nature. When Rekha was small I wouldn’t have been able to manage with my health issues were it not for him. He would stay up nights, sit with her, tell her stories, feed her, change her and go to school the next day. He never bothered me for anything, not even tiffin. He would either pack something for himself or forgo it completely. My darling boy,” she sniffed and gave an affectionate laugh.
Rajani was reassured. Harsha was no ogre then. It was all just bluster and a façade. She thawed slightly.
“When are you coming for the godhbhari function Mummyji?”
“What Mummyji?” Sunaina was put out. “Call me Mummy like the others do.”
“We are all so looking forward to meeting you,” Sunaina gushed, “everyone wants to join in. The guest list is growing longer and longer. None of has been so far down south and we are thinking of making it into a pleasure trip as well, and of course shop for the wedding. Oh won’t it be fun? By the way, what are your favorite colors? Can you find out the best places to shop? Rekha’s so excited, she can barely sit still.” Sunaina trilled.
Talking to her to be mother-in-law, Rajani could almost forget that it was her wedding they were talking about. For all she knew it could be a party they were planning and one that Rajani could almost be lured into looking forward to.
But more often than not it was the other considerations and perspectives, associated with the godhbharai function, which kept her preoccupied and restless.
Until now Rajani had never even heard of it but now it became a matter of life and death – or rather make or break. Not the wedding but her father’s bank balance.
“Rani beta, the godhbharai is the first function.” Suryakant called up Rajani. “We need to hold it at least a couple of weeks before the wedding.”
“Harsha’s mother did mention that they would be coming down to Bengaluru. Have the dates been fixed?”
“That’s the thing I wanted to talk to you about,” Suryakant said.
“About your leave. Has it been sanctioned? When will you be able to come?”
Rajani coughed. “Not exactly. I just had an informal talk. They agreed to two weeks. I thought I would apply once you have the wedding dates fixed.”
“Better you first fix your leave Rani.”
“How can I? It all depends on when Bhai and Bhabhi are getting married and what dates the Punditjis agrees on.”
“Look Rani, two weeks are not enough for all the functions. I can’t arrange for two weddings in such a short time.”
“But Papa,” Rajani burst out, “I did say that right in the beginning. Both Bhai and you said, it was not my headache! That you would both would handle it…”
“Listen to me Rani beta,” Suryakant was at his placating best, “that time we didn’t know about the goddbhari function. We thought we could have it just a day or two before the wedding but they want it as soon as possible.”
“Their Punditji suggested for Harsha’s sake – to ward off the evil eye and remove all obstacles in his path.”
“But how does this affect my leave? They agreed to come down to Bengaluru didn’t they?”
“Yes beta, they did agree to come down but the expenses is turning out to be too much.”
“Expenses?” Rajani was taken aback. “What expenses?”
“About half a dozen of their family want to attend the functions, and your mother and I would also have to come down. To arrange for so many air tickets, hotel rooms means an additional expense of about 5 lakhs.”
“What?! Why would you pay for their travel? And isn’t the godhbharai function hosted by the groom’s side.”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“Did they ask you to pay?”
“No Rani. It’s understood that we will make the arrangement. Besides, it is an honor for us they are accepting my daughter into their home as one of their own…”
“Why should all the honor and responsibility be yours? They should be equally honored that that you are giving them your daughter!”
“Rani beta I didn’t make the rules, these are Society norms and we have to follow them. Anyway, they want to hold the function as early as possible, the punditji advices it for Harsha’s well being. Otherwise I was planning to hold it just a couple of days before the wedding.”
“This is not fair. Papa you promised I would be able to continue studying, please Papa,” Rajani alternately railed and pleaded.
“Please try and understand beta…”
Rajani massaged her throbbing temples – uff what drama.
She sighed. “Can the function be held on a weekend? I can fly down for the function and maybe you can hold the function in Delhi? That way you will save on accommodation, sightseeing and God knows what else in Chandigarh.”
“Brilliant beta. Wonderful suggestion. I will talk to them and get back to you…”
“Why talk to them? Can you not decide and let them know?”
“No beta, this is a delicate relationship and we have tread very carefully and diplomatically. It should not seem as if we are sidelining them or that we are trying to avoid expenses.”
“And apply for leave. Don’t put it off till the last minute. I don’t want any last minute confusion on the leave issue.” Suryakant said.
“But Papa, how can I apply for leave until you fix the dates?”
“Tentatively your wedding has been fixed for the 25th of January and Abhi’s on 4th of February.”
Rajani smiled. “That’s great! Shikha’s wedding is on the 31st! I can now easily attend her wedding as well.”
Suryakant grunted. “You don’t know how much negotiations we had to do to make sure you could attend all three weddings without impacting your academic year.”
“Thank you Papa.”
Although to tell the truth, Rajani would have been happier to attend just two of the weddings.
Btw just in case anyone of you (IPK fans and readers of SS) is interested, two posts are up under DM’s Desk – Hook, Line and Sinker plus A Chip Off the Old Block -if you read do let me know your reactions and thoughts.
Funny how Calvin shows me a different perspective each time – how we are slave to our own imagination and fears.
Click here for Chapter 126: A Little Fracas