The wedding was upon them and there wasn’t any more scope for chatter or giggles. There was too much to do with too many people milling about. An uncle (Suryakant’s elder brother) whom Rajani hadn’t met in years came with his family. A distant cousin and Nisha’s sisters came to give moral support and offer expert advice.
Two days before the wedding they packed up all the stuff and left for Delhi. If you remember (I had almost forgotten 😉 the groom’s side wanted the wedding to be held in a five-star hotel. And Suryakant in a bid to curtail costs (and headache) of the groom’s family khatirdaari had opted to hold the wedding in Delhi.
Morning noon and evening, all blurred into one seamless mass under the layers and layers of make up and clothing. Rajani gave up trying to make sense of the events; instead she focused on just followed instructions – holding out her hands for mehendi or her face for paint, it was all just the same. She was calm and composed most of the time but dread of the unknown filled her in bouts. She constantly felt nauseated and a churning in her abdomen.
Could one get pregnant just by thinking about it? What if she got pregnant? Oh why hadn’t she thought of that earlier? What good would it have done? She sneered at herself. Oh Papa, I cannot marry because I don’t like the associated hanky panky? Because I don’t want to get pregnant? Shikha was so unreliable! Where were the damn pills?
She had tried to speak to her mother but had been too embarrassed to say more than a few words interspersed with umss and mammas.
To make matters worse, Nisha had been equally embarrassed and had avoided the topic like the plague. “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Just follow his lead. Go with the flow.”
“But Mamma,” Nisha’s awkwardness helped Rajani steady herself, “What if I become pregnant?”
Nisha’s face glowed. She clasped her hands and bowed her head. “If Bhagwanji would be so kind!”
“Hi Rajji! You are looking beautiful!”
“Shikha ki bacchi!” Rajani hissed through clenched teeth, “Where were you? Why are you so late?”
“Relax! I am here aren’t I? I am staying with you for the sangeet, mehendi and until the wedding is over. Happy?”
Unappeased, Rajani glared at her.
“What?” Shikha was all at sea.
Rajani gestured furiously but Shikha failed to get the hint. “What?”
“Where are my pills?” Rajani whispered with a quick look around.
“Oh!” Shikha looked at her in dismay. “I…I didn’t get for you. I thought you were joking.”
Rajani’s make up was in danger of completely ruined as annoyance and despair warred.
Fury won. “Why would I be joking?”
“I don’t know.” Shikha shrugged helplessly. “You didn’t say anything after that.”
“Where was the scope? Hey Bhagwan! What will happen now?” Tears sprang to her eyes.
“Relax Rajji relax. Look I went to the doctor and I have the prescription. I can go and get the medicine from the local chemist.”
Rajani looked hopefully at her. “Please!” she would have clasped her hands in supplication to add depth to her plea but they were mehendified.
“But Rajji, the doctor said I should have started taking them at least a month earlier.”
Rajani stared at her in dismay. “Oh no! What am I going to do now?” she moaned.
“Relax Rajji. There are these emergency pills. You can take them after…after you know,” Shikha lowered her voice so much that Rajani had to strain to hear, “unprotected sex to prevent any unwanted pregnancy. But that is only for emergency purposes not for daily use.”
“I started taking the pills and Amu is going to use the condom. Hopefully nothing will happen.”
Rajani looked at her with envy and surprise. “You talked to Amu?”
Shikha nodded. “I told him about my scare.”
“What did he say?”
“He said he would love to have a baby but later. For now, I was his baby,” she giggled.
“Shikhs can you get me the emergency pills? I wont be here for long and…”
“But how many can you take Buddhoo? You are going for your honeymoon aren’t you?”
“To Singapore.” Rajani said with despair
“You can’t keep taking the pills morning noon afternoon every time you…”
“What!” Rajani looked at her with horror. “Morning noon afternoon…”
Shikha shrugged carelessly even though a light flush suffused her, “That’s what Amu has threatened me with.” She giggled and simpered.
Rajani’s dread and dismay worsened, if that were possible. Could she run away from the mandap? Was it too late? Or was it better late than never. Oh she couldn’t go through ‘that’ – and morning noon afternoon, never!
“Don’t worry Rajji. Everything will work out fine. You can talk it out…”
“Talk it out! With Harsha?” Rajani scoffed. “No chance. He is so shy and such a gentleman,” she mocked Ritu’s tone. “He will talk? I don’t think so and I refuse to broach the topic. I couldn’t!” she shuddered. “Oh Shikhs! What the hell am I doing here? Can I not run away?” Panic and hysteria gripped her.
“Shush! Shush” Shikha leaned in and put a comforting arm around her, “Take a deep breath Rajji! Breathe!” she hissed. “Aunty!”
Nisha and Kirti came up to them. Nisha took in Rajani’s state in a glance. She clasped her icy hands and squeezed them comfortingly. “Relax Rani, relax!”
“Mamma please I don’t want to get married. I really don’t please! I want to study, what if I can’t?” She was becoming hysterical. “What if I…”
Kirti looked at Shikha who mumbled, “She’s terrified of becoming pregnant…” Comprehension dawned on Kirti’s face, she leaned forward to whisper into Nisha’s ears who had her hands full trying to calm an agitated and nervous Rani.
“Rani beta, listen to me, please. I will talk to Sunainaji, she will talk to Harsha don’t worry, we’ll take measures to make sure you don’t become pregnant before your studies are finished. Okay?”
The make up ran down Rajani’s cheeks leaving streaks. “What if she doesn’t agree?”
“Why won’t she? She told me from her own mouth that she wants you to complete your post-graduation! She wants you to do PhD also.”
“Are you sure Mamma?”
“Yes I am sure. Now please stop crying. Your make up is all ruined. If Harsha sees you like this, he will run away from the mandap.”
“He can barely walk, how will he run?” Rajani sniffed.
“That’s not a nice thing to say Rani!” Nisha castigated her.
“Ummm,” Rajani mumbled from behind the girl who was attempting to repair the ravages of the latest downpour. “You’ll talk to Harsha’s mother Mamma?”
Rajani had to be content with that.
Click here for the next chapter: Secrets