CRajani tried to shut out the world and focus on her studies. She didn’t want to be caught unprepared when the time came. Besides, numbers were familiar and comforting. They allowed her to sink into them and forget the rest of the world.
Not that the others allowed her the luxury. Nisha was constantly calling her up to remind her to call her mother in law or sister in law and on occasion even Harsha.
“But Mamma, he doesn’t like to talk to me.”
“It’s not like that Rani. He is a shy boy. You need to draw him out, establish a rapport, get to know him develop a bond…”
“I have my whole life for that,” Rajani grumbled. “I have to study…”
“Studies will always be there. I am saying this for your benefit. Go on talk to him.”
“But we always fight when we talk.”
“I am sure you provoke him. What an argumentative child you are!” Nisha was exasperated. “Just ask him how he is.”
“To which he replies like I was yesterday,” Rajani mimicked, “forget it Mamma. Tell me how is Bhai’s wedding preparations coming along? Shopping done?”
“Yes coming along. There’s still a lot to be done, but mostly for your wedding. Abhi’s wedding we don’t have much to do. But yours…”
“What about mine? Isn’t my shopping done?”
“Ye…es, more or less. Your MIL sent …”
“Another list! What do they want now?”
“Nothing Rani. Now please for goodness sake don’t fight with Harsha over this. Your father will kill me. I wasn’t supposed to say anything…”
“What do they want?” Rajani asked with foreboding.
“You are lying.”
“No really. Nothing. I swear. We only wanted to give some furniture for your room, so they sent a list of things which you might like to have…”
“I would like to have? Like what?”
“Daily use items, like bed, dressing table, almirah, sofa…”
“Don’t they have a sofa set at home?”
“It’s not like that Rani. We only asked them about specifics. Your father all along intended to give furniture but we thought it best to take their requirements into consideration. No point in giving useless stuff is there?”
“Are you sure you aren’t hiding something from me Mamma?”
“Yes Rani. They are genuinely nice people Rani. Well behaved and polite. They don’t want anything…”
“Why do I find that hard to believe?” Rajani couldn’t help remembering the avidity with which both her MIL and SIL had jumped into shopping, the gleam in their eye…
“Why don’t you believe me? Your father spoke to your FIL and he was categorical that they didn’t want anything. They just want a grand classy wedding so that everyone who attends the wedding is thrilled with all the arrangements and bless you both.”
“I don’t understand. What does that mean?”
“They want the wedding to be held in a five-star hotel.”
“Five-star hotel! Won’t it expensive?”
“Yes, but it’s the only thing they want. And your father couldn’t refuse a direct request.”
“How will Papa manage the expenses? Won’t it be too much for his pocket?”
“I suppose so. But you don’t worry. He will manage.”
“How? Let me talk to Harsha…”
“No! Rani don’t you dare talk to him about this. This is between your father and his father. He has no role to play in this. Don’t involve him in this. It is bound to escalate into a fight and things could become very ugly. Remember, breaking off the wedding at this juncture would be the worst thing ever. Money is something your father can and will arrange but the shame of a broken wedding – that he would never be able to take. To never be able to hold up his head in society would kill him.”
“Relax. All is good. Your father decided to hold the wedding in Delhi, that way the expense of putting up the groom’s family could be avoided. Taking care of the hospitality of a few hundred people in Chandi…”
“Few hundred people!”
“Oh yes! And that is a conservative estimate. They are a big family and closely knit too. You are a lucky girl! You are losing one friend but gaining so many new friends.”
“Yeah right.” Rajani muttered. Where the hell was Shikha? It had been two days since Amu had landed in Delhi and since then no news. And before he had landed, Shikha had pestered her with phone calls, messages and emails expressing her nervousness, excitement, panic, hysteria, agitation, impatience, breathlessness, stomach pain etc etc.
And now suddenly – silence.
Rajani had sent her messages and even called her up thrice but each time Shikha had disconnected her call.
What the hell!
How dare she not take HER call?
She could be dying.
A sudden qualm assailed her. Was Shikha dead?
“Aunty,” Rajani called up Kirti. “Where’s Shikha? Is she okay?”
“Hello Rani. Oh yes she is fine.” She laughed. “She is busy with her in-laws and Amardeep. He came yesterday and since then even I haven’t managed to have two words with her. She is with him or on the phone khus-phusing with him.”
“Oh.” Rajani attempted to imagine herself khus-phusing with Harsha and failed miserably. But it did trigger her and she ended up giggling all by herself.
But it wasn’t half as fun.
Oh how she missed Shikha!
“Hello Rajji. You called? Anything important?”
“Shikha ki bachchi! You call back after 20 missed calls and ask if anything important?” Rajani was incensed. “I could be dead for all you know.”
“If you were, I would have known.” Shikha retorted, “Besides, if you were dead you wouldn’t be calling me would you?”
“Very clever huh?”
“And smart, and beautiful, and stunning, and…”
“Heyyy wait a minute, who’s been feeding you all this nonsense?”
“It’s not nonsense. It’s the real me. The only thing is nobody realized it until…”
Shikha coughed. She cleared her throat.
“Got a bad cold Shikha?”
“Until he came and showed me the mirror…”
“He? Hey Bhagwan! Shikhs you have completely lost it.”
“Perhaps. But I LOVE having lost it – whatever ‘it’ is. Such a wonderful wonderful feeling Rajji. It’s as if I am not here at all. I feel as if I am floating high in the sky, above the clouds. A fairy land where there is nothing but him and I and there is no need for anything else either…”
“What a whole lot of nonsense.”
“You won’t understand Rajji. You are too busy resisting fate and fighting your Haru darling. If only you would accept fate, yield to your life partner, you would know what I am talking about.”
Click here for the next chapter: The Lovebirds