Within two months Rashi got married to Sanat Mehra, a dream come true for both of them. As expected, the wedding was a grand affair, a big fat Indian wedding. The ceremonies lasted for more than a week with guests flying in from different parts of the world, the media going crazy and frantic activity in both the households. Suresh was mindful of not hurting the sentiments of Rashi’s parents, and he also did not want then to get unnerved by the scale of the wedding. He knew that given a chance they would not want the wedding to be a pretentious affair, but since Sanat was their only son, there was no way that it could be a low key affair. No matter what it was going to be a lavish affair. He told them very clearly that he did not want them to feel pressurised about anything at all. They could go ahead and give their daughter whatever they wanted, but all the ceremonies and functions would be his and his family’s responsibility. He did not want to put any unnecessary burden on them and also did not wish for any awkwardness to creep into the relationship. He knew that it was a sensitive issue and needed to be dealt with very carefully. On their part, Rashi’s parents also understood the predicament being faced by Sanat’s family and therefore decided to go along with their wishes. However, Rashi’s father could not help feeling amused by the size and scale of the wedding.
Immediately after the wedding, the newlyweds left for a month-long honeymoon to various parts of the world. Rashi was deliriously happy and could not still believe that they had managed to get married. The honeymoon period reinforced all her feelings for Sanat who from being a caring and loving boyfriend had turned into an equally caring and loving husband. Sanat, on his part, wanted to travel the world with her, show her different places and spend a lot of time with her. If her happiness was vital for him, then her parents’ joy was equally important, and so even though at times she did not remember to call her parents, he made sure that she did that on a regular basis. Her joy was something that the phone connection was able to transport to her parents, who were relieved and also delighted. Any remaining doubts were cleared by the pictures that the two of them kept sending.
The honeymoon period got over, and then it was time to go home and start their new life. Rashi was a little anxious about it, but Sanat assured her that no matter what he would always be by her side. Sanat’s parents gave them a warm welcome, and over dinner, Sanat’s father told them that they had decided that for the first six months they would all live together whereafter Sanat and Rashi could move out into their apartment which was just a floor above. The initial period would enable all of them to get to know each other better and would allow Rashi to settle into her new home and then they could start living on their own.
The next one month or so was full of lunches, dinners and get-togethers when almost daily Rashi got to meet a new family member or a new friend. It was quite overwhelming, to begin with, but soon she got used to it. Urmila also made sure that Rashi was comfortable doing all that and that she was not left out of anything. Whenever she faced an awkward moment, Urmila would be just there to help her out. Before going anywhere, she would help her out with her clothes and jewellery if she wanted. These little, little gestures touched Rashi, and as a result, the two of them became very close. Apart from meeting people, they spent a lot of time together at home and outside as well. The change in Urmila still surprised Rashi. It was hard to believe that she had been so much against her getting married to her son, and now she was so loving and caring. Other than meeting other people, the two of them also spent a lot of time together, watching movies, chatting, going shopping and doing up the apartment. There was many a happy weekend when Sanat, Rashi and Urmila went shopping for various things needed in the apartment.
Soon the apartment was ready, and the two of them moved out. Though living with the in-laws had been quite comfortable for them but leading an independent life was a different experience altogether. Rashi enjoyed looking after the house, the staff and the independence that it brought with it. It was like her territory, her domain where she could do what she wanted when she wanted, and how she wanted. There was total freedom. It wasn’t as though there had been any restrictions while they had been living with her in-laws, but there had been a difference. That had been her mother-in-law’s domain, but this was hers. She loved having her friends over, figuring out food, drinks in her way. And then before they knew it, it was time for their first anniversary. Once again, it was an occasion that was celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. Though by now, Rashi had got quite used to the ways of her husband’s family, it was still difficult for her to relate to such mega celebrations.
But slowly as the novelty of the new life, the new house started wearing off, Rashi began to get a little restless. She wanted to do something more with her life. She could not imagine spending the rest of it just taking care of the house and the family. Moreover, she wanted to put her education to use and not let it go waste. But then she also understood very well that in Sanat’s family, women had never worked and it wasn’t something that they would agree to. As it is all of them had gone to great lengths to make her feel welcome in the family and had helped her with everything. So now if she expressed a desire to work would she not be pushing her luck, pushing them a bit much. She was caught in a dilemma. One part of her wanted to do something productive with her life while another part wanted her to respect her family’s sentiments. What was she to do?? She kept debating within herself, trying to find a way out. All the while she was getting irritable, frustrated which was showing in her behaviour too. Finally, when she couldn’t find an answer herself, she decided to have a word with Sanat. She knew him to be a level headed person who would understand her situation and guide her accordingly.
Being a reasonable person and also knowing Rashi, Sanat could understand her situation and her frustration, but then he also knew his family and its norms. He couldn’t recollect any instance of a woman going out to work in their family. Yes, they had all been reasonably well educated, but there had never been any desire on their part to go out to work. He was quite sure that they would not agree, but anyhow, he decided to talk to his father. To his surprise, Suresh was extraordinarily forthcoming and understanding. He could relate to Rashi’s situation and was open about finding a solution to the problem. He thought about it and suggested that she could join the family office, to begin with, and then they could take it forward from there. This seemed to be a good idea, and both the husband and wife wanted to go ahead. But Suresh suggested that they should get Urmila’s viewpoint also and make her a part of the decision. There was another surprise in store for the husband and wife when they broached the topic with Urmila. She told them that she had been wondering as to how Rashi was allowing her life and her education to go waste. She said that though it was true that the women in their family had never worked, that was largely because none of them had been equipped enough to go out and work and they had never expressed a desire to work as well. She also shared with them that even Neelam was planning to start something of her own as she had also got tired of sitting at home and doing practically nothing.
Thus Rashi was all set to follow her dream. She joined work and started loving it. She was a smart and intelligent person, so it wasn’t difficult for her to learn the ropes. Seeing her interest and aptitude, Suresh made her In charge of the marketing division of his business. It was a huge responsibility, but Rashi took to it like a duck takes to water. Suresh was quite impressed by her enthusiasm and drive. Life by now had settled into a routine for the couple. On weekdays they were busy at work and weekends were spent either at home or with family. Since Rashi had become very busy at work, she wasn’t able to devote as much time to her house as she would have wanted to. But here also Urmila stepped in whenever there was a crisis or whenever Rashi wanted help. It was very heartwarming to see how Urmila had switched from being someone who had hated Rashi at one point to someone who now loved her unconditionally and was willing to do anything for her. Even when she and Sanat fought, Urmila’s would always take up for her daughter-in-law regardless of the issue.
With this kind of support, Rashi was able to fully concentrate on her work and attain a lot of success. With time Suresh also started feeling that she could be put in charge of a venture which would be entirely her baby as he thought that she had a lot of potential. He told her to scout around for such opportunities. This gave a further boost to her confidence. Sanat was tremendously proud of her achievements and always encouraged her to strive for more. They were all very happy and content, and so were the parents. But of course, some people were not especially Sakshi whose life had not turned out the way she had wanted it to. She had got married straight after college to this boy who had a lot of money and was from a similar background. But he had turned out to be an alcoholic and a womaniser who did not care much for her. He had refused to give up on his way of life, and all her attempts at making him do that had not borne any result. He had even raised his hand at her. For a while, she had taken all this in the hope that things might change, but nothing of that sort happened, and ultimately she was left with no choice but to leave him. Once she did that she was back to living with her parents, who were still the Mehra family’s neighbours.
Although there wasn’t much of an interaction between the two families, they were aware of the goings-on in each other’s homes. So after moving back, Sakshi got to know all about what was happening in the lives of Rashi and Sanat Mehra and was she jealous!! She couldn’t digest the fact that an upstart like Rashi was leading such a beautiful life with her husband and she who had always been way ahead of her in everything had ended up married a jerk. Not only that now she was back to living with her parents. But then there wasn’t much that she could do about it. Since they were living in such close proximity, it was but natural for them to bump into each other, but Sanat and Rashi largely ignored her. And if they had to, they would acknowledge her presence with a smile, and that’s it. They had no desire to have anything to do with her. They politely rebuffed any attempts by her to be friendly or chatty. This infuriated Sakshi as she couldn’t tolerate being ignored. The only way that she could get back at them was by bitching about them behind their backs, but that didn’t mean much because people had no reason to believe her.
Four years on and one day, Rashi discovered that she was pregnant. Though a bit shocked because she had not been expecting this, all the same, she was delighted. Her husband and in-laws were, of course, over the moon and did not know how to contain their joy. It was as though everything in their life had now taken a back seat and life was all about the arrival of this little being. Even though it was still early days, it seemed as though the yet to be born little one had become the centre of everyone’s life. And since Rashi was going to be instrumental in bringing that piece of happiness into their lives, they just couldn’t stop pampering her, being always there for her. Some days it would get to be a bit too much for Rashi, and she would want to be left alone. But then she could also understand that the birth of the first grandchild was a huge thing for the family. And in any case, being made to feel so special did give her that on top of the world kind of a feeling.
It wasn’t long before Sakshi too got wind of this development. She was as it is very frustrated with her life because no matter how hard her parents tried, they were not able to get her married for the second time. And now this!! She couldn’t believe how luck seemed to be favouring Rashi and had forgotten all about her.
Maybe it was the vibes or whatever, but Rashi’s pregnancy wasn’t turning out to be an easy one. From the third month itself, the doctors advised her to take things easy and not exert too much. Going by the doctor’s advice, her family also told her to slow down, especially on the work front. Now at that point in time, Rashi had zeroed in on a business project and was neck deep in evaluating it. She had been waiting for this for a long time, and now that it was virtually at her doorstep she couldn’t just let it go. But then now she was stuck at home, and at least for some time, she would not be allowed to go to work. She decided that at least for some days, she would work from home and see how it went. This went on for about a month. But even after that, she wasn’t given the green signal by the doctor. This was quite frustrating. And of course, sitting at home was quite boring too. Suddenly everything had come to a standstill for her. Everyone else seemed to be leading a normal life while she was stuck at home. Urmila would sometimes come and sit with her, Neelam also flew down from Bangalore to spend some time with her and occasionally her mother would also come by. But that didn’t really help. She was frustrated because her work was suffering, and the chances of losing the business opportunity were now quite bright. Her physical absence from the office was causing a lot of damage. And this time not even Sanat could understand her problem. He was clear that her priority should be the child, and for the time being, she should forget about her work. He couldn’t understand that for Rashi, the project was also like a child. She had nurtured it, worked on it for a long time, and it was as precious to her as the unborn child. The only person who could understand her to an extent was Urmila, but she was also of the opinion that at that point, focusing on the child was more important than on the project.
Now it wasn’t as though Rashi didn’t want the child, but she wanted the project too!! Was it not right to want both?? The family was very clear that her focus should be on the child, and she should forget about work, but she just couldn’t. Since she was now totally free and had nothing to do, she would keep getting crazy thoughts in her head. She was also getting irritable and would keep picking up fights with Sanat who was finding it difficult to handle her. During an argument, she even went on to accuse him of wanting her to forget about work because that wasn’t his baby whereas the yet to be born child was. She told him that he was being selfish and insensitive. He also got angry, but eventually, he realised that it was nothing but sheer frustration, which was causing her to speak like that. But then even he was at a loss. He knew that she should be happy and cheerful, but that wasn’t happening at all.
And then in the midst of all this, Rashi’s father had a heart attack and passed away. It was like a bolt from the blue. He was hale and hearty one day and the next day he was gone. Her mother was shattered, completely heartbroken, and the one person who could give her some semblance of solace was not allowed to leave the house. They spoke to the doctor who warned them that as her condition was delicate, any movement could prove to be costly. As it is, he felt that due to the shock her situation might have worsened. But then there was no way that she could be not allowed to attend all the ceremonies. So she was allowed but was warned that she would have to be extremely careful. Anyways much to everyone’s relief, all the ceremonies passed off without a hitch. And then came another shock. Though relieved about the fact that nothing untoward had happened the doctor still asked Rashi to go in for a regular ultrasound. Taking it as something normal Sanat accompanied his wife for it but then to their horror, the ultrasound revealed that the shock of losing her father had indeed affected the foetus. Though there was still time for delivery, she was in danger of losing the baby, and as a result, Rashi was to be immediately admitted into the hospital. Sanat rushed her to the hospital, but after a few days in spite of the best possible care, Rashi lost the baby.
To say that they were all heartbroken and devastated would be an understatement. It was as though their worst fears had come true. And for Rashi not only was it unbelievable, but it was also unacceptable too. She had done everything possible to ensure that the pregnancy went off well, but it hadn’t happened. She felt so cheated. Within the span of a month not only had she lost her father but her child too. It was just not fair. And not to forget her business venture which she had let go so that she could give birth to her child and now everything was gone. She was numb with grief. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get out of it. She couldn’t understand why all the three things so dear to her had to leave her all at the same time. It wasn’t easy for Sanat either. Not only had he his grief to deal with, but he also had to comfort Rashi and take care of her. He had never seen her in this state. She had gone into a shell from where no matter how hard he tried, she just wouldn’t come out. He tried consoling her, taking her out, calling her friends over, playing her favourite music, the movies she liked, but nothing seemed to be working. She would just not react or respond to anything he did or said. At times she would just get up and walk off. He even tried taking her on holiday, but it made no difference. She was in a state of shock, and it seemed as though he couldn’t reach out to her.
Everyone was at their wit’s end, but there didn’t seem to be any way out. Urmila also tried consoling her, talking to her on several occasions but to no avail. Her mother though trying to cope up with her grief, also tried her best but again with no success. It wasn’t as though Rashi couldn’t see how much everyone was doing for her, how much they were all suffering, but she just couldn’t come to terms with her loss. All day and night, her thoughts kept oscillating between her father, her unborn child and her unfulfilled business dream. Though the business idea, she could still put aside the twin tragedies of losing both her father and child she couldn’t come to terms with. The sight of a picture of a baby or the mention of a child was enough to make tears well up in her eyes. Then she would remember how much her father had been looking forward to having a grandchild. She remembered how he would sit with her and make plans about how he intended to spoil his grandchild and indulge him in every possible way. Sometimes she would chance upon a picture of her father and start thinking about her childhood; the times spent with him and tears would start flowing.
Now Suresh had been witnessing all this and trying to think of a way out. When he realised that nothing seemed to be working, he decided that he had to take matters into his hands. So quietly and without telling anyone, he decided to take everyone on holiday and then over there spend time with Rashi. Even though Rashi was not too keen on the idea, she couldn’t refuse him, and so all four of them along with Rashi’s mother went to London. After the first few days during which they all settled into a kind of routine, one day over breakfast, Suresh announced that he had decided to take Rashi out for lunch. Nobody else was invited. Though surprised Rashi agreed to go. He told her to be ready by eleven in the morning. He took her first to Hyde Park where he said to her that he wanted to talk to her and then bit by bit he brought up all the three things that were bothering her. He began by telling her that as far as the business venture was concerned, there was no need to lose heart over it. Yes, it had been an excellent opportunity, but it wasn’t as though with that opportunity getting missed all was lost. Opportunities could come by at any time, and as she had it in her to spot them and work on them, it was only a matter of time before she would get another one. So, therefore, she had to forget about the one she had lost and move on. He told her that it was too small a thing to waste so much time on. Then he broached the topic of her father’s death. In a very practical and matter of fact manner, he explained to her that elders have to go at some point or the other and though it is always painful to accept such a thing, again it is a reality that everyone has to face at some point or the other. He told her that she should be grateful for the fact that her father had gone away peacefully and had not had to suffer or bear any kind of pain. Maybe it was his manner or his tone, or it was the change of surroundings but all of a sudden all these things, explanations were making a lot of sense to Rashi. She could see things quite objectively now.
And then holding her hand, he told her that she still had a father in him. He could not be the same person, but he would always be there for her. He confessed to her that he had always seen a daughter in her, and therefore, she could depend on him the way in which she had depended on her father. This brought tears into Rashi’s eyes, and she couldn’t stop herself from hugging him. She had always known it, but once again she realised how lucky she was in having a father-in-law like Suresh. She felt that she wasn’t being fair to anyone by not being able to get over her grief. She had been quite selfish. She needed to move on.
At this point, Suresh broached the topic of her child. In a very gentle and calm manner that he could understand what it must mean to her to have lost her child in that way. He consoled her and said to her that it did seem to be unfair, but then in life, not everything was fair. He told her that he also had been looking forward to having a grandchild, of spending time with him, teaching him different things. He confessed that he had never had a lot of time to spend with Sanat as he had been busy at work while Sanat was growing up and that is why also he had been waiting for this little bundle of joy. But then he consoled her by saying that they had no choice but to accept the sad reality. He told her that she had age on her side and could have a houseful of children if she so wanted. This statement and the way in which he said the words were so funny that Rashi started laughing. The vision of having a house full of children with Sanat and she running after them was just too funny. She just couldn’t stop laughing. Seeing her even Suresh could not stop himself. It was after so many months that Rashi had laughed or even smiled for that matter. And suddenly the clouds of despair, sadness started lifting and disappearing into the London skies. As it is, it was a bright and sunny morning, a rarity for London as well.
Suresh advised her to put the sadness and misery of the past few months behind her and move on. He told her that nothing could ever be gained in life by clinging on to the past. The trick was to be positive and move on. It was as though Suresh had managed to do what no one else had been able to. His words had made a lot of sense to Rashi, and if not completely recovered at least she had now taken the first step on the road to recovery. Suresh also suggested that she should have a good time in London, doing whatever she wanted to whether it was shopping[ he said that with a smile on his face] or whatever else she desired. They had a wonderful time at lunch and then headed back to their apartment.
To see Rashi in such a happy and relaxed state of mind was like a shock for the others. Sanat couldn’t believe that she was actually laughing away. It was as though someone had waved a magic wand over her. The past had been pushed away and had made way for the future. The two of them decided to go for a drive, and it was like the good old times. Though he could still detect a tinge of sadness in her for the most part, she was close to being normal. He knew that the wounds would take a while to heal, but at least the healing process had begun. He couldn’t thank his father enough for this.
After fifteen days of a great holiday, the family headed back to India on a happy note. Rashi could not help thanking her stars for having given her a family like that. They had all stood by her and had never let her feel alone. Sanat too, had suffered so much because of her but had never ever said anything to her. He had been so patient and so loving. She was sure that any other person in his place could have just blamed her for the entire situation and left her to her devices. But not this man, who had never even considered such a possibility. In fact, no matter what the situation, he had never let her go.
If that wasn’t true love then what was…..