The next few days were a blur buried under mounds of clothes and more clothes. It was as if she was going to Mars or something, grumbled Abhi.
“Don’t you get clothes in Delhi? What does she need so many dresses for?”
“Don’t talk about stuff you don’t know about,” Ritu was the only one who could put him in his place. “What will you say when you see my stuff?” she grinned at the look of horror on his face.
Just for fun, Ritu took him to the garage to show him the kitchenware and other stuff that Nisha had purchased for Rajani.
“What’s all this for? Don’t they have an extra plate?” He was incredulous.
“Even I am getting all this and more,” Ritu said.
“Don’t! Please!” begged Abhi. “We have more than enough…”
Ritu nudged him. “Not for here silly. For our home in Delhi.”
“Ritu,” Suryakant spoke up, “I want to assure you that we truly don’t want anything. If I could have my way, I wouldn’t have let you bring anything.”
“Oh you are such a sweetheart Papaji.” Ritu hugged him. He harrumphed and walked away.
Rajani and Ritu burst into giggles.
“I just hope you are done with your shopping before the wedding.” Abhi rolled his eyes.
“You still haven’t seen the furniture…”
Abhi threw up his hands and backed away.
“Where are you going?” Rajani called. “ There are lists to be made and invitation cards addressed…”
Nisha joined the laughter.
In between the shopping, Rajani had sessions at the parlor – if it weren’t for the expense, she could very well get used to it. And to tell the truth, this was the only time she could relax or rather was forced to relax. That is unless she received a call from Delhi. Harsha was still stiff and formal but Rajani did feel a thawing.
Sunaina and Rekha were bubbling with excitement and called often to check up on Rajani and how far she was with the shopping and wedding arrangements.
“Mummy bought two saris for you and one for me. I hope you like red. Mummy really likes red but these days she says she should wear only light shades.” Rekha said. “She says she should sober up now that she was going to be a MIL twice over and a granny.”
“Why should she?” Rajani said. “She should wear what she likes.”
“Exactly what I told her. Why don’t you buy something in bright colors for her? She would be so happy and not feel guilty about spending for herself.”
“Okay.” Rajani said.
“What colors do you like Rani beta?” Sunaina called up to ask. “We bought red for you but I also wanted to buy a few others. Blue? Or pink? I loved a beige and gold sari but both of you are too young for it.”
“Buy it for yourself Mummyji.”
“No! I couldn’t do that! The expense. Just imagine. A waste as your FIL would say – rightly too…”
“No don’t say that!”
“But it’s the truth. Never mind about me. Why don’t you Skype and show me all that you’ve bought? I am very excited about the wedding and I wish I could be at both places!”
They laughed. Rajani and Nisha set about unpacking and displaying the goods for their approval.
“Wow very nice things I must say.” MIL and SIL admired her things. “You seem to have an eye for clothes.” She praised her.
“Bhabhi helped me a lot. And so did Shikha.” Rajani disclaimed.
“Lucky for you!” Sunaina exclaimed. “I am hoping you will be a good influence on not only Harsha but also Rekha. She just doesn’t listen to me. I told her to buy some more saris and dresses but she is so worried about the expense. See if you can convince her. After all she is more your friend than her.”
“I don’t need more stuff Mummy! It’s not my wedding,” Rekha laughed. “Actually Bhabhi, Mummy bought a purple shirt for Bhaiyya and a matching purple sari for you. Now she wants me to buy something to match that. But when I asked her to also buy something in purple, she backed out. So I also refused.”
“Rani, let’s go shopping,” Nisha said after their Skype session was over.
“Not again Mamma please!” Rani groaned. “Didn’t you hear them? They are happy with…”
“No Rani, you didn’t hear them. We need to buy something in purple for them. Among other colors.”
Rajani stared at her mother’s back as she went out.
A few days before the wedding, all the gold was brought out from the bank locker and put under the scanner. Some were exchanged, others polished and some new purchases made. Suryakant gave up sleeping nights – all his life’s earnings lay strewn about the house.
The scene at Shikha’s house was pretty much the same albeit the pace was a bit less frenzied – they had had more time and only one wedding to organize. But she also joined Rajani’s shopping expeditions – there was always scope for one more dress, one more pair of shoes or urgent need for some accessory or the other.
“Make up!” Shikha sat bolt upright on the bed at Rajani’s home where they were resting after returning from yet another shopping spree. “I don’t remember seeing any cosmetics and stuff among your things? Did you buy?”
Rajani shook her head. “No and I don’t care. I swear if I have to go to another shop I will jump off the roof.”
“But you do need them! Lipstick, eye…”
“Oh please Shikhs give me a break will you? I hardly use any make up! Besides, I am going back to college not staying to attend any fashion parade.”
“Oh please Rajji do talk sense will you? I am going to the States after the wedding – the dream cosmetic store of the world and still I have bought tons of it. Aunty….”
Rajani groaned and turned over to bury her face in her pillow. Just a few more days and it would no longer be her pillow. It would be Bhabhi’s…
“Mamma, what about my old stuff?” Rajani cornered her mother.
“What old stuff?”
“My things here. My clothes…”
“All that you’ve taken to the hostel.”
“No. I still have loads of my things here. This stuffed teddy, my pillow, my sweater, this night suit…”
“Rani,” Nisha warned, “don’t you dare even think about taking all those things to your new home!”
“Why not? It’s my home! I can take what I want.” Rajani was adamant.
“Listen to me Rani,” coaxed her mother, “leave them here. It’s not as if you won’t be coming home ever.”
“The way you all are behaving, it feels as if I never will!”
“You will beta. Of course you will. We expect you to come with Harsha and stay a few days. And then when you have your baby…”
“Mamma please. I am taking my stuff and that’s that. I am sure the moment I leave, you will call the kabadiwala and get rid of it like you are getting rid of me. Oh Mamma, why can’t I stay here?”
The tears flowed again.
They arrived at a compromise. Rajani would go through her belongings and pack the ones she really wanted to keep. Suryakant would courier them to her college. The rest could be donated to anybody who cared for it.
“Rajji!” Shikha barged into their house and dragged her away. “One moment Aunty, I really need her,” she didn’t wait for a returning nod.
Suryakant and Nisha looked at each other.
What on earth was the matter?
Click here for the next chapter: The Emergency