The day of the godh bharai function dawned dull and dreary, rain was imminent. The temperature difference and Rajani (or her family’s) lack of preparedness ensured that Rajani had a massive cold. Suryakant fussed over her dripping nose and streaming eyes like never before. A doctor was called in to stem the tide. After all the bride-to-be couldn’t be seen sniffing on the very first day could she? Overdosed with drugs and drowsy in their wake, Rajani half slept through the beauty parlor sessions where she was attacked by about half a dozen people vying for a piece of her – arms, legs, face, hair.
“Send me a photo of yours.” Harsha instructed.
“You can see for yourself in the evening,” Rajani said dreamily.
“I am not coming.”
“Why not?” Rajani woke up.
“It’s your function. What’s my role in it?”
“No! Come over. Otherwise how will we meet? I am leaving tomorrow.”
“We have our whole lives to meet. How will you go from the airport in the middle of the night?”
“I think Uncle is coming to pick me up.”
“You think? And who is this Uncle?”
“Don’t worry. I will be fine.” She quailed as she remembered her earlier fracas. “Uncle dropped me to the airport.”
“Bye I’ve got to go. Make sure you come in the evening. I will wait for you.” She disconnected the call.
Rajani could barely recognize herself under the make up, hairdo and sparkling new dress far removed from her usual simple pastel shades.
“Mamma, so much for the Godh bharai? What will happen at the wedding?”
“Just you wait my dear!” Nisha was almost in tears. “Oh you look so beautiful.”
Suryakant too gave his approval. “If you dress properly, you don’t look too bad.”
Rajani blushed. “Thank you Papa.”
Glowing and quite the blushing bride, Rajani waited impatiently for Shikha to arrive, “Where is she? Why hasn’t she come yet?” She fretted and fussed.
“Shikhs I will kill you if you come after ‘they’ arrive.” She texted.
“Relax Rajji,” Shikha texted back, “I am even more eager to meet my Jiju than you are for me to meet him!”
“Very funny.” Rajani was not amused. She called her up immediately. “I want to meet you. Besides I am not even sure if he is coming or not.”
“He? Oh ho,” Shikha promptly latched on and teased. “But why not?”
“Apparently we will be meeting all our lives.”
“Nothing. Forget it. Where are you?”
“At my in-laws.”
“You are at your in-laws?”
“We had come to Delhi so we had to meet them to discuss the wedding arrangements.”
“But today is my day,” wailed Rajani, “you have to be with me.”
“Sorry, go to go,” Shikha muttered and disconnected the phone.
“Shikhssss.” Rajani swore at the dead phone in her hand.
“What happened Rani?”
“Shikha is busy buttering her in-laws to come.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say dear. After marriage, a girl’s priorities change. She has to take care of her in-laws wishes first.”
“But she isn’t even married yet.” Rajani fumed.
“Straighten your expression!” Nisha hissed. “Here they come.” Smiling she moved forward to greet their exalted guests. “Come in come in. Oh you are looking stunning! Nobody could say you are the groom’s mother,” Nisha gushed.
Gratified, Sunaina inclined her head.
“And Rekha is positively glowing. I am sure she will have a boy.” Nisha fawned over them.
“We have our fingers crossed on that. It’s always good to have the first child as a boy. Releases all the tension and worry.”
They smiled at each other in understanding and kinship. “And now where’s my new daughter? I am dying to see her.”
“Rani beta, come and touch your new mother’s feet.” Suryakant called.
Wilting under the weight of the heavy peach lehnga, Rajani treaded gingerly on her high heels. She cursed Shikha – why wasn’t she here to give her moral support. What if she tripped? She relaxed as her mother gripped her by the elbow and put a hand over her shoulder.
“This is Rani,” Nisha said proudly nudging Rajani to touch their feet.
Rajani bent down. “Bless you my dear, bless you. Let me have a look at your pretty face. Look Rekha, your Bhabhi.”
“Hello Bhabhi! Such delicate artwork on your jewelry.” Rekha put a hand on her danglers and peered at them intently. “Where did you buy it from? Tanishq?”
Rajani looked at her mother. “No, no we have a local jeweler back in Chandigarh.”
“Are they reliable? I believe they cheat on the gold?” Sunaina held up the long chain and weighed it experimentally.
“Oh no!” Nisha rushed to defend. “They are very trusted and popular goldsmiths in our parts. They have been in this business for generations now.”
“All the more chance that they have honed the art of stealing gold!” Sunaina laughed. “But I have to admire their workmanship. It’s very fine and delicate. Amazing how some goldsmiths can create such beautiful designs with so little gold.”
“Rani meet your father-in-law. Go on take his blessings.”
Rajani moved forward and bent to take his blessings.
Suryakant looked around. “Where is Harsha? Didn’t he come?”
“Yes he came.” Sunaina said. “I had to force him. He’s very shy by nature. Oh there he is with Kuldeep, Rekha’s husband.” She beckoned them over.
“Come and meet the bride. How does she look?”
“Stunning. Gorgeous.” Kuldeep nudged Harsha. “You’re lucky.” He paused. “I am already married.” Everyone laughed. Rekha pouted at him. He put his arm around her. “Come on. Isn’t she pretty? What do you think?” He coaxed.
Rekha made a moue at him. She smiled at Rajani. “Yes, she’s got lovely hands.”
“Thanks.” Rajani smiled back at Rekha. She stole a look at Harsha. He was standing a bit to the side, withdrawn with one of his hands in his pocket. The other was clutching a cane and his left foot was in a plaster. She moved towards him. “How are you?”
He shot her a scandalized glance. “What are you doing here?” he hissed. Without waiting for a reply, he moved away to where Abhi and Ritu were standing.
Rajani stood still staring after him, hurt beyond measure at the obvious rebuff.
The way he was talking with them (no – with Bhabhi) only made her feel worse. He looked so animated and bright, free and comfortable. Not stiff or awkward like he usually was around her. She had thought he was naturally shy and reserved type. But it was evident he could be outgoing and engaging when he wished to be. The fact was they didn’t gel too well – why on earth were they going ahead with this wedding?
“Meet Chacha and Chachi,” Harsha came up to her with a couple in tow. Rajani folded her hands and greeted them. Harsha frowned at her. Rajani looked at him confused. He gestured with his eyes.
Making a moue, she bent to touch their feet. “Bless you bless you.” They said. “You look lovely, doesn’t she?” Chachi asked Harsha, who looked away. Chachi laughed heartily. “He’s really shy. Hope marriage will cure him!”
“Please have some refreshments,” Suryakant bustled over. “Come along Rani, the ritual is about to start.”
Here’s Calvin to get you back on track 😀
Click here for Chapter 129: Rumblings