Rajani’s grand success was the pride of the colony – she was their daughter after all – and such a sweet child too. Ahujaji had of course worked very hard to tutor her – his standing sky rocketed, as did his tutorship fees. He, as the saying goes, laughed all the way to the bank while Rajani basked in the realization of her dreams.
Papa patted her head and had even given her a hug. Mamma couldn’t stop smiling and had Bhai had actually asked to speak to her!
“Congratulations Rani.” He said in all earnestness with no hint of slight or derision. As if they were of the same standing – one doctor to another.
And then the journalists landed up at their door, TV vans clogged the narrow lanes of their colony and mikes were thrust into her face. Relatives from all over the country, those with whom they had not been in touch for over years called up to congratulate. Rajani must have said ‘Thank you’ about a million zillion times and her cheeks ached from all that smiling, laughing and not to mention giving interviews.
Stars in her eyes, Rajani couldn’t wait for the entrance exams results – she was sure she had cracked those as well. Now she only had to decide where she wanted to study – In Delhi or Chandigarh.
One by one the results trickled in.
And this time the Ahujas were on top of the game. Rajani cracked every single exam and with decent rankings too. There was a palpable air of jubilance. Suryakant couldn’t stop smiling as his ranking went up in the community as well as the office. Unknown people stopped him to congratulate him to ask for tips, beg for his ‘blessings’ for their child. He too went out of his way to treat people to sweets (and anything else they cared to order). Nisha of course shed buckets of gratefulness and joy in front of her Bhagwanji.
Rajani, well I guess there is no need to say much on that front. Yes she danced and skipped for joy. The tomb-like silence at the Ahuja household lifted like it had never been there. Her chatter and giggles rustled and swept away the cobwebs from the house. Doors and windows were thrown open dispelling the darkness and the sense of impending doom from their house.
The only tragedy was that now it was time for Rajani and Shikha to part ways. But not too far. Shikha was to hoping to join Math honors at DU and Rajani of course intended to opt for LHMC (though secretly she had her heart set on AIIMS – that was the only result pending). Both set of parents were relieved that at least the girls would be in the same city as were the girls. They made huge plans to paint the city red show Delhi how to live life.
And just when they thought things couldn’t get any better, “Guess what?” One morning, Shikha ran to Rajani’s and pounced on her as she slept.
“Whaaa…?” Rajani woke with a gasp. Fear clutched her, had it all been a dream? Had she even passed the boards? Entrances? Was something wrong?
Shikha shook her. “Guess what sleepy head? Wake up Rajji wake up. Do you have any idea what is happening in the world?”
“What do I care?” Rajani mumbled as she sank back on to her bed.
“Get up Buddhoo, get up!”
“Tell me first. So much of drama over nothing.” Rajani grumbled irritably.
“Fine! If you are going to be that way.” Shikha stalked off with her nose in the air.
“Okay fine!” Rajani sat up and looked at her friend in resignation. “Shoot.”
“Not again!” Rajani threw a cushion at her. “Tell me otherwise…”
“Otherwise what?” taunted Shikha confident of the upper hand.
“Otherwise I will tickle you.” Rajani charged up with her outstretched claws. Shikha ran to escape – shouts, screams, gurgles erupted. Indulgently, by mutual consent, Suryakant and Nisha forbore to interfere.
“Okay, okay stop stop, I will tell you,” gasped Shikha.
Rajani released her though she kept her claws ready, just in case.
“Just a week before your birthday,” she paused for dramatic effect, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is being released.”
This time, Rajani’s ear-piercing shriek brought both Nisha and Suryakant running only to find the girls jumping on the bed like they used to do a decade ago.
“Oh Mamma,” Rajani jumped down and enlisted her mother and thrilled to bits even her father to an impromptu dance. “Harry Harry Harry Harry!”
Suryakant beat a hasty retreat while Nisha smacked her head and rued. “Harry is going to be the death of me.”
“Oh no Mamma! Harry is our savior. Yaayyyy!! Shouting, screaming and jumping Rajani and Shikha celebrated the final icing on the cake.
“Oh I wish I could fast forward time to next month! It’s so far away. How will we survive till then?” Rajani bent over trying to still the flutters inside.
“Aren’t you going to start calculating how you will purchase the book? Shikha said slyly.
Rajani tossed her plait at the back. “Hmmph I just have to say the word. Mamma Papa would never refuse me the book…”
“But wouldn’t it be an unnecessary burden on their expenses? Poor Uncle already so overburdened with expenses and now Harry Potter too. Do you think you should ask him?” Shikha put the worm in her head.
Rajani froze. “Yes oh yes I forgot.” She looked at Shikha quite panic stricken, “Now how will I purchase the book?”
Shikha tapped her cheek thoughtfully. “Hmm I could lend you mine.”
Rajani glared at her. “You are deliberately doing this?”
Shikha opened her eyes wide. “Doing what?”
“Teasing me about how to buy the book, what else? I don’t care!” Rajani crossed her arms and put her nose in the air. “I deserve the book. I studied hard and did so well in the exams, surely they can afford to buy me a gift?”
“Sure! Of course! I am sure they would love to do so.” Shikha looked at her glumly, a sly look at the corner of her eyes. “But are you sure you should let them? Poor Papa.” She commiserated.
“Yes.” Rajani drooped until she caught the glint.
“Shikssssss!” she threw the cushion on her and jumped her once again. Shrieks (and giggles) ensued.
Shikha wiggled out of her death grip and waved her thumb at her taunting, inviting. Panting Rajani prepared to pursue her to the ends of the earth when Shikha clicked her fingers. “I know!”
Rajani paused. “What?”
“I have a brilliant idea for the book.”
“What?” Rajani’s eyes glittered with avarice.
“You could always ask your Jeejaji to gift it to you.”
Shikha was out of the door by the time Rajani had worked that one out. She rushed out after her. “Just you wait Shikha ki bachchi. Surely I will ask your Jeejaji or even better my Jeejaji or your collector sahib. Just you wait.” They tore about the front yard feinting and swinging – just short of stopping from wrestling.
Embarrassed, Rajani flew back inside. She had forgotten where and what she was doing and for what? She blushed a beetroot red. They weren’t kids any longer! Was this any way for a budding doctor to behave? She winced and braced herself for the tongue lashing from her mother and the reproachful looks that her father was bound to cast her way.
But to her surprise, there was neither. Nisha had disappeared into the kitchen and her father was nowhere to be seen. This was a first! She skipped inside happily – Mamma and Papa were thrilled with her and Harry was coming to her. What more could she want?
Up next Chapter 66: The Cup Slips