” Vikram. Danisha needs a break. You’ve been keeping busy.I’ve been busy. During such a time, a daughter needs her mother the most, however, she doesn’t have one. I guess, if you take her to a place where both of you can spend quality time, she will marvel this phase, looking forward to a new journey of motherhood. I can see, how the anxiety bouts are enervating her.” Abhimayu sir stated, rising from his chair, looking through the window, at the sky, where the yellows and the oranges were vying for attention, a rapid rainbow emanating from them. The first showers had not yet satiated the parched ground as it cried through its broken edges. The petrichor lingered in the air marking the start of the monsoon.
The next day, Danisha and Vikram had planned to set out for ‘ Kaitaan’, a hill station which was three hundred kilometers from Boshir. The doctor had given a nod for Danisha to travel by car and since, during the journey, one encounters an isolated stretch of land for a few kilometers, where there’s almost no habitat, people travel in groups. Abhimanyu sir had arranged twelve heavily armed officers who would escort them in jeeps–one in front of the car, another in the rear–till Kaitaan.
Hamish and Karim also wanted to accompany the couple till Kaitaan, stay there for two days and then come back to attend duty, leaving the couple to enjoy some privacy.They looked forward to the journey as it had been a long time since they all flocked together and did something crazy.They huddled the luggage on the Mercedes’ carrier and after stacking them properly, fastened with huge bungee chords.
Abhimanyu sir held Danisha; caressing her head, he said,” Lately, I’ve not been able to spend time with you. But, I promise, the day I gun down Bugga Reech, I’ll make up for the loss.
He tore his eyes from Danisha with difficulty as they settled on Vikram. He firmly held his shoulders and looked at him intently.” My boy, you’ve been a fine soldier, a doting husband and an examplary son-in-law. I know the thought of exterminating Bugga Reech has been hounding you since a long time. However, may I suggest to you that these fifteen days, all I want from you is to focus on yourself and Danisha. “
Vikram bent forward and touched Abhimanyu sir’s feet. ” Papa, don’t worry. I’ll take care of your daughter and we are looking forward to a sublime retreat.”
Danisha, after shifting restlessly in the rear seat of the car, ensconced to a convenient position. Vikram flipped open the car door and settled beside her.
” Abimanyu sir, your children will be safe and sound , look who’s driving?” Hamish squealed, rolling his eyes.
” And who’s sitting beside Hamish?” Karim squawked.
Peals of laughter reveberated in the air.
The convoy charged forward as the fumes from the exhaust lingered in.
” Look at the soldier at the rear of the jeep in our front. His face looks like a sullen pig. I guess he grunts all day and he never laughs.” Hamish said while gliding through the road effortlessly.
” I have observed that most of the soldiers wear a grim look , as if looking serious meant that they were more sagacious, more adept.” Karim added.
” And yes, look at you both, guffawing along.” Danisha said as she clenched Vikram’s arm and rested her head onto his shoulder.
” What I mean is that we are in jobs that require us to be resilient, to be ready for combats.Jobs that are demanding…” Hamish stated.
” Glorious at that. Our jobs are glorious.” Danisha intervened.
” But..but, that doesn’t mean we need to be glum.” Hamish said.
” Oye..Hamishe. Why are you bothering? You don’t be glum. Prance around.” Vikram joked.
Hamish turned up the volume of the song and the speakers blasted the song..’if you need me, I’ll be just beside you. Call me, love.’
” The music is blaring.Will you be able to hear us? Hamish switch it off. I feel like puking. Why do I feel something ominious awaits us.” Danisha struggled with her words. Her heart was thudding at a great pace.
“Hamish switch off the music” Vikram hollered.
“Yes..here you go. I’m sorry ma’am” Hamish said.
Vikram caressed her back as she clasped his hand in a taut grip.
It was a painful bumpy drive as the road tapered off to give way to the stone laden path which sliced through the isolated stretch of land.
” Mercedes-Benz has super duper shockers. You wouldn’t feel the bumpy ride.” Karim stated as all of a sudden heavy downpour lashed the area.
” Gosh, another two-hour drive to go. Keep close to the jeep in the front. In case, we hit a boulder and the car stops, the glum- face and the troop can bail us out.” Vikram suggested, still caressing the beleaguered Danisha.
” It’s rainin cats and dogs. I can’t see the jeep in front.” Hamish turned on the wipers of the car which covorted frantically from left to right and then right to left. ” Where on earth did the jeep in front vanish?” he gasped.
Vikram swiveled his head and observed that the jeep in the rear vanished too. Before they could realize what was happening, a bullet from a .403 calibre rifle sprinted through the driver’s window hitting Hamish’s skull and lodging in his brain, shattering the window glass in splinters. He was dead.
Bending down, Karim fished out his FN 509 pistol and braced himself. Before Vikram and Danisha bent, they saw through the window pane, the jeep which was in the rear, toppled upside down to their right, all the combat officers lying in puddles of blood which soon intermingled with the rain water.
Vikram fished out his Hecklar& Koch VP9 pistol, while Danisha grabbed her Smith&Wesson M&P9 2.0 pistol.
Flipping open the car doors, Vikram and Karim emerged out of the car, firing bullets on Bugga Reech’s men who were mounted on horses. Like matchsticks the men fell as the whinnying and neighing stallions catapulted their front legs and scurried from the spot. They could see the combat officers who were in the front jeep, maimed, greviously injured, crawling and pleading for water, and then one by one each one of them getting martyrd. What a painful sight it was!!
” I don’t believe there were only two men. Two men cannot inflict such catastrophe.” Vikram murmured as he saw another man mounted on a horse, galloping toward Karim,shreiking his heart out, drawing out a sword from the scabbard. Before he could press the trigger, the man grabbed Karim’s hair and sliced his throat with the unsheathed sword. Blood and air gurgled in his throat and bubbled and foamed in the raw gash. He writhed in pain, his eyes widening in horror as he collapsed on the wet muddy ground. However, Vikram aimed at the man, pulled the trigger, making him drop with a splash in the muddy water.
Danisha was horrified as she could feel waves of pain emanating from her tummy and going toward her nether region. As she was scrambling out of the car, a horde of men mounted on steeds surrounded Vikram. Vikram fired many rounds from his pistol but the men parried them all. It had become very difficult for him to catch sight of these men in the heavy downpour. The men, circling around him, laughing diabolically, took out the swords from the scabbards and then shoved them back, teasingly.
” Who’s going to save you, Vikram Singhania?” one of the men with tobacco-stained lips, framing brownish yellow crooked teeth, grinning through an unkempt pepper-salt stubble of beard, blathered.
Vikram, aimed at the men, laborously, continued pressing the trigger, however, all that could be heard were the incessant clicking sounds. The pistol ran out of bullets.
” You sonofabitch..you’ll be dead now.” another man hollered as they charged at Vikram with their shining swords.
In the meantime, Danisha, aimed at the men–alas, she couldn’t see owing to the thick rainfall–and fired, indiscrimately, a string of bullets at the men, some hitting the knees of the men ,some hitting arms, some missing the targets. The men were flabbergasted at the onslaught of the unwary bullets as they started receding.
However, a hand grabbed Danisha’s hair and dragged her toward the place where Vikram was stranded. Danisha swiveled and saw Bugga Reech mounted on horse, his bloodshot eyes craving for bloodshed, his dishevelled, unruly tangled hair were messy and greasy as they toppled over his broad muscular shoulders.
” Put your gun down, you whore. You killed my brother. Now, see how I extract your husband’s intestines from his mouth.”
Danisha flung her pistol as she was writhing in pain being dragged on her tummy, her pregnant tummy.
” You lay a hand on Vikram and I’ll sever your head.” Danisha mumbled.
As Vikram saw Bugga Reech dragging Danisha, he leapt on him and both of them tumbled onto the ground.
Vikram sat on Bugga Reech’s tummy and struggled to strangulate him.Danisha, hobbling and crawling tried reaching out to Vikram when one of the terrorists, galloped toward Vikram’s back and like a fork of lightning, drew a gash on Vikram’s back, causing the skin to tear open, revealing the pink skin and blood beneath. Vikram fell backwards, as Bugga Reech struggled to rise on his feet.
” Boys, let us have a gory blood bath. Kill the mother fucker but gingerly. Let the death be so slow that the wife has nightmares every night till the time she is alive.” Bugga Reech thundered.
” Chief. Are we going to leave the woman? Why not kill her too.After all, she killed your brother.” one of the terrorists, blathered.
” No.No..Let her be alive. Let her witness her husband’s gory death. Had she not been pregnant, we could have kidnapped her and raped her every night, but now she doesn’t allure me.” Bugga Reech said as he stamped on Vikram’s gash , moving his foot violently as Vikram writhed in pain.
Danisha struggled to lift herself , she wriggled, she hobbled but owing to the sheer weight of her tummy, she wasn’t able to do so. However, she caught hold of Bugga Reech’s other foot and bit it with all her might. He wiggled in pain. He lunged on her and pounded incessantly at her tummy with his left fist while the right hand brandishing the sword drew a gash on her face. Danisha lay numb, unbeknowest to the excruciating pain Vikram was feeling.
The other men, turn by turn shoved their enchanted swords into Vikram. He lied in puddles of blood, his blood intermixing with Danisha’s blood which oozed out from her nether region, signalling the demise of her child.
” Adieu. Sweet couple.I hope you both enjoyed the rendevouz with me.” Bugga Reech hollered mounting the horse as they soon galloped and left.
Danisha hobbled towards Vikram. She cupped his face and burst into tears.
” Ma..Madam..you..you fine? You’ll have to live..My Danisha… can’t…can’t bid adieu to this world. She will live…she will die warm in bed at the age of 100.” Vikram gasped while uttering the words.
” I hate my child. It’s because of it, I couldn’t save my Vikram. Vikram..Vikram, don’t die Vikku. I can’t live without you. Vikku. Don’t leave me, Vikku.” Danisha pleaded as she caressed his face.
What a dreadful scene it was!
Danisha , Vikram, hand in hand ,lying in pools of blood, consoling each other.
” I…I..love you Danisha.” Vikram struggled with the words as life betrayed him and he lay there lifeless.
” Vikku..I can’t ..live without ..you.” Danisha uttered and became unconcious.
The skies witnessed the gory massacre, hence, they roared and cried and cried.