Chapter 58: Harried

Giving her mother a wide berth, Rajani hugged herself in an attempt to stop herself from break out into a dance screaming Harry! Harry! Harry!

Calm down Rani, she told herself sternly, calm down – there’s loads of time still. Be patient.

Rajani sank down on the sofa with a thump and a sigh! She wondered idly how much the book would cost. Last time it had been pretty expensive. Rajani flushed as she remembered how confidently she had told her mother that for the next book she would save money, earn money – but how?

If only she had not splurged on Bhai’s birthday…she bit her lip feeling mean and petty. No she shouldn’t think like that – after all it had been her idea and Bhai had been overjoyed. She shook her head, no she shouldn’t begrudge the money she spent for him, Bhai deserved it, after all he had had a grueling two years – all work and more work.

Rajani had been distressed over her beloved brother’s battered condition and was desperate to treat him to something really nice. Something – anything – but what? She discussed with the issue with Nisha and scoured the newspaper for some ideas.

“Mamma! I have an idea,” eyes shining Rajani turned towards her mother, “let’s go for a movie, all of us. How about it?”

“Movie?” Nisha looked at her dubiously. “All of us? It will be very expensive dear.”

“But I have the money Mamma! Remember all the shagun money, which Bhai gives me for Rakhi and Bhai dooj? You have it don’t you? It will be enough for four tickets wont it be?”

“Ye…es.” Nisha nodded. “But then you wont have any money left over.” She warned.

But Rajani couldn’t care less; her Bhai had been through the wringer and she tender heart bled for him. She wanted to do something special, something that he would like – what better than a movie together. She couldn’t remember the last time they had gone out for a movie together. Shikha’s numerous outings and movies with her parents made her feel very sorry for herself.

But no longer!

“Okay!” Rajani’s eyes glittered with excitement, “Let’s see which movie?” she scanned the newspaper. “Hmm, Mamma, everyone in school was praising ‘Ishq Vishq’ – apparently Shahid Kapoor is very cute,” Rajani coughed and broke off. How could she forget Harry – she was a one-man woman.

Nisha had also heard, besides she was a movie buff. And there were few opportunities to indulge herself, she found herself weakening, “Well maybe, but let me check his schedule, Abhi still has a couple of exams left.”

Nisha and Rajani pored over Abhi’s timetable for the week and managed to find a slot that would work beautifully for their plan.

“Hussh Mamma,” Warned Rajani, “remember it is a secret. Don’t tell anyone,” she paused, “not even Papa. Oh wont it be fun Mamma?”

Carried away in the excitement of the moment Nisha uncharacteristically fell in with Rajani’s plans. She even went ahead booked the tickets.

And then Suryakant got wind of it – that is Nisha took pity on him and let him in on the treat that awaited them.

“Ishq Vishq? What nonsense is that? And taking the children to see it? Rajani too? What the hell were you thinking? No! I forbid it.”

Nisha was aghast. She couldn’t believe her ears. She had promised Rajani. She had even bought he tickets.

But Suryakant was quite unimpressed and kicked up a huge fuss. It took all of Nisha’s persuasive powers to calm him.

“Fine. Do what you like but don’t expect me to go along with you.” And that was that.

Nisha stared at him in dismay – give in to her husband’s dictates or break Rajani’s heart? And the four tickets – they were non-refundable. Well maybe Shikha could join them…

Nisha had barely managed to digest her husband’s reaction when Abhi dropped his bombshell. “Mom, can I go and watch the cricket match with my friends this Saturday? I just need one thousand rupees Mom. Please? You know I have been slogging like a dog, I deserve some time off and it’s my birthday as well.”

Nisha could only stare at him in open-mouthed shock. She broke her vow of silence once again.

“Beta, I shouldn’t be telling you this but Rani has planned a surprise birthday gift for you this Saturday – Ishk Vishq. Even Shikha is coming along.”

Ishk Vishq? Do you think I am crazy or what? Do you really expect me to watch a namby pamby romantic movie with two giggling girls in tow? No chance Mom.”

“But Beta one thousand rupees for just one ticket. And just think about Rani…”

“But Mom, it’s my birthday and I have had enough of doing what others want me to do. For once can’t I do what I want to do?” he banged the door on his way out.

Nisha was in a quandary – now what? Poor Rani would be heartbroken and penniless too. Nisha could have kicked herself. Why did I buy the tickets? She castigated herself a thousand times but the damage was done.

Nisha stayed up the whole night plotting and planning – something that would allow Abhi to watch the match and yet somehow convince Rani that she was responsible for his treat.

“Rani,” Nisha said in a conspiratorial tone, “I was thinking that Abhi might enjoy his ‘surprise’ better if it was a football match or a cricket match don’t you think?”

Rajani frowned. “Yes maybe, but Mamma haven’t you already bought the tickets? And don’t you want to see Ishq Vishq? I thought all of us would see it together?”

“No,” Nisha crossed her fingers behind her back, “Not yet. I only said I would go and get, it is easily available I heard. Anyway, so what I was thinking, that how about I buy Abhi a ticket for the cricket match from your side as a birthday gift?”

“But what about the movie?”

Nisha smiled. “Oh that! You, Shikha, Kirti Aunty and I can go for it. Well what do you say?” Nisha held her breath.

Rani’s heart gave a leap – see a movie with Shikha! “But what about Papa?”

“Papa is busy. He has a meeting. He wont be able to make it in any case.”

Rani was in an agony of indecision. “Let’s see the movie some other day, when Papa is free.”

Nisha rolled her eyes, mentally that is – that’s why they say you have to tell a hundred lies to hide one lie…

“No dear. Let him be. Besides Abhi is only free this weekend, he still has a couple of exams in the offing; plus his birthday on Monday.”

“Then maybe we could all go and see the cricket match.” Rajani made the ultimate sacrifice.

Nisha patted her head. “No dear, the tickets are very expensive, almost thousand rupees for one ticket, maybe be more. Why waste so much money on doing what you don’t like?”

One thousand rupees for one ticket! She had only one thousand rupees. She drooped. “This is turning out to be a bad surprise.”

“Of course not. Just you wait. I will buy the ticket and then you can give it to him and watch his jaw fall, like this.” Nisha opened her mouth and let it hang.

Rajani got a serious case of giggling, which Nisha joined in out of sheer relief – they rolled about on the bed laughing and giggling (all the while with Nisha sending up silent pleas to her favorite Bhagwanji to ‘handle’ the Suryakant angle as well).

“Happy birthday in advance Bhai.” Rajani said solemnly to Abhi as she presented a sealed envelope to him.

Abhi accepted it rather ungraciously with a warning glare at Nisha. “What is this, if this is some stupid mo…WOW! Raaaniiii! He grabbed her and swung her around in excitement. “You bought me a cricket match ticket! Thank you thank you thank you thank you….” He went on and on quite unable to believe his eyes.

Rajani was of course overjoyed and clung to Abhi and Nisha by turn. “Oh I am so happy! I am so happy that you like my present.” A doubt shook Rajani. “Are sure Bhai that you don’t want to see Ishq Vishq? Mamma and I are going with Shikha and Kirti Aunty. You can come if you like?” Rajani was a bit anxious but Abhi waved her away.

It had been one of the best days ever (before the Harry Potter news and after the picnic cum circus) and money well spent, Rajani consoled.

But now the question remained – how to purchase the new Harry potter book from her nonexistent savings…

Up next Chapter 59: Will he Wont he?

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