Chapter 3

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"Khamma Ghani."

"And what do you say if someone greets you first?" Kaveri Devi asked.

"Ghani Khamma," Niyati replied.

"Correct," Kaveri Devi Rajvansh beamed. "The younger generation of us Rajputs too greet each other with Hi-Hello these days but you will have to stick with the traditional greetings, I am afraid. Firstly, because in spite of your age you are one of the elder daughters-in-law and elder sister-in-law in the family with Uday being the third eldest cousin. Secondly, with Uday being in politics, adherence to traditions is expected from his spouse."

Niyati merely smiled. It didn't matter that the longevity of this relationship was uncertain, it didn't matter that she didn't want to be Uday Rajvansh's spouse, she was it. For now.

Thankfully, her relationship with her 'husband' was harmonious. They mutually held their side of silence, tried to keep out of each other's way and tactfully ignored each other on the breakfast table, one meal that Kaveri Devi insisted they all had together as that was the only time Uday Rajvansh ate at home. On their first day on that table, he had sneered at her presence, had asked his mother to keep the garbage where it belonged and had marched back to his room upstairs. Kaveri Devi had apologized to her and had marched right after her son, up an impressive flight of stairs, on her arthritic knees and a still mending heart. God knew what arguments they had had, but since then peace had prevailed on the table and in her life.

Anthony uncle's reading of Kaveri Devi Rajvansh had been spot on too. She doted on her firstborn like anything. He had her limitless love, loyalty, and support. He was also right when he'd said that she will consistently hover around her. In fact, the lady stayed put on Niyati's side as if super-glued there. The ground floor room Niyati had been given was just next to Kaveri Devi's. The whole wing was a guest wing, but owing to her recent heart attack she had been moved downstairs from the upstairs family wing, where Uday Rajvansh was the sole occupant now. Niyati was sure that the old woman would like nothing more than to sleep next to her, she only needed to ask.

To give her credit, though, she was really doing everything that could be done to make Niyati feel comfortable, happy and at home. She was clearly grieving for her younger son, but she didn't mention him ever in front of Niyati, except once. And that too only to explain what had made Abhay Rajvansh so selfish and callous, making no apologies for his deceit and apologizing to her instead. From what Niyati gathered, she and her husband had always wanted two kids, but after her first child, she couldn't conceive again for the next eleven years. After a while, they accepted the situation as God's will. As it is, they had one smart and intelligent offspring and decided to love and nurture him to their best. Uday Rajvansh grew to be the apple of both his parents' eyes. After almost a decade, though, Abhay Rajvansh came along. He wasn't a planned baby but a welcomed one. However, it soon became obvious that his father and elder brother had carved out a life which left not much time for the newest addition to the family. While they loved Abhay Rajvansh, they did it from afar. It left only his mother to care for him. While she understood her elder son's distance from a bawling baby, she didn't like her husband's. So resentful and trying to be both a mother and a father in his life, she unwittingly spoiled him beyond repair. A fact, she confided, she had been regretting for a while now.

After listening to all this, Niyati came to the conclusion that she will always have a problem relating to the moneyed class. Abhay Rajvansh chose to ruin his life, and that of others, in spite of having an obviously loving mother and all the opportunities of the world at his feet? Some people would die for that much! People, people like her, were getting by fairly well in comparison with almost nothing in terms of love or money in their lives. He might not have had a hands-on father or the constant attention of his brother but he had been blessed far more than an average human being. He could have counted the blessings he'd had, made this world a better place with all the power at his disposal, but no, he chose to waste everything away. Well, good riddance.

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