” Today anyway was the last training schedule. And you boys have made me proud”
“We had to ma’am “
” Annihilating Bugga Reech ‘s men is no ordinary feat . Wounding and parcelling him home is not a joke either.”
” Ma’am, will we get the red batches? ” All sergeants yelled.
” First, let’s reach Boshir. We’ll see. I’ve called in for ambulance, medical help and army buses. Look , there they arrive.” Danisha said pointing at the fleet of army buses, and an ambulance. The vehicles rock n rolled on the muddy path before coming to a halt.
The sergeants and Danisha’s team occupied two army buses while the horses were stuffed in the other two buses as the steeds refused to budge in the rough weather.
Huddled into a stretcher, Vikram was placed into the ambulance accompanied by Danisha, Karim, Jackie and Hamish. As the cavalcade set forth toward Boshir, the sergeants hummed soulful songs which not only reveberated in the air but also felt like distilled perfumes.
Vikram lay on the hospital bed, Danisha by his side. He was treated timely by the most experienced doctor of Boshir. He was on sedatives which made him sleep a lot. Hamish, Karim and Jackie were ensuring that Vikram recoups well. Danisha, after attending to her duties, visited him daily in the evenings. On the fourth day, Danisha visited again.
” How are you doing ?” Danisha enquired lifting Vikram so that he could sit for a while. Placing a fluffy pillow on the bedrest, she placed his upper back gingerly on it.
” Ma’am, I’m doing fine. I feel much better. The pain has dissipated a lot. How’s the commander?” Vikram muttered as he clutched the tea cup which Danisha offered him.
” Commander. ” Danisha shrugging off her shoulder, sipped her tea. Looking out of the window, she added, ” Did you know, commander Abhimanyu Raheja is my father. He’s doing well. He was worried for you.”
“Your father? “
“Yes, mine. “
” Yeah.. The surname matches. But.. But.. no one knows. “
“The juniors, don’t “
“How is it like at home? Is he as strict with you as he’s on the field?” Vikram gaped at her with his jaws open.
” At home, he’s as serene as a dove. He sometimes cooks for me and.. ” Before, Danisha could finish, Vikram interjected, ” He cooks? His countenance is that of a strong, resolute and indomitable person. He looks unyielding. I’m sure, he would have been very fierce in ambushes. We shudder in fear at his sight. ” Vikram observed that Danisha wasn’t having her tea.
” Ma’am your tea. “
“Yes, I’m having it. Why are you not having yours? Finish it. ” sipping her tea, Danisha ambled toward the window and looked at the sky which was resplendent with the soft golden hue that one can witness when the Sun decides to recede back to its haven.
” I don’t have a mother. She passed away when I was four years old. My father brought my elder brother and me up with love and care but as we stepped into our teenage, his ways became tough for us to handle. He.. He trained us hard. That’s the reason today I’m a major sergeant. ” Danisha kept on gazing at the sky.
” Your brother ma’am.Haven’t seen him. ” Vikram wore a bewildered look.
” He.. He has been martyrd. Bugga Reech killed him. ” Danisha’s voice trailed off as she struggled to stiffle her muffled cry.
” What? Whatt.. Whatt are you saying? ” Vikram said while struggling to get off the bed. He trudged toward Danisha and placed a hand on her shoulder.
Danisha swiveled her head and cluthching Vikram she lugged him carefully toward the bed. “Are you out of your mind, junior? You’re not supposed to get up. Cmon. Rest. If you get up, I’m not gonna share anything with you. “
Vikram sought her help and plopped on the bed. “I’m sorry.. Had I known this, I would have slaughtered the terrorist Bugga that day. “Vikram sighed.
” Do you think the commander and I are at peace. We are waiting with bated breath for the day when we’ll annihilate Bugga and pay tribute to brother. ” Danisha hollered clenching her fist.
“I have.. I have lost my dear men in the line of duty.” Danisha struggled to speak.
” Men.. You said you lost your brother. Did you lose anyone else? “Vikram asked inquisitively.
” Mr. Vikram Singhania, you are not supposed to talk so much. The doctor told me that you have to rest. Anyway, I have to rush now. I need to go with my team for patrolling in the Asser Range. You know how recoinnaissance has to be done at all times. That area is susceptible to many attacks by the terrorists. ” Danisha sobered herself and again wore the resolute look on her face.
“Ma’am you coming tomorrow? “Vikram quizzed while having a goodbye handshake.
” Maybe. The hospital authorities told me they’ll discharge you day after tomorrow. ” Danisha said in a firm voice as she walked toward the door. “By the way, next week, father has decided to call all the sergeants for a party. We have tortured you all for months and you all have passed the hallmark test of valour by trampling upon Bugga’s ego and vanquishing him. So, it’s celebration time. ” Danisha swang open the door and tapped it in a jubilant mood while humming, ” It’s party time sergeant “.. She then zoomed off the room.
Vikram cautiously lay on the bed. Many thoughts lingered in his mind. He felt an attraction toward Danisha who was ten years her senior. She only thought of him as a capable junior, That’s all. He had initially thought that the attraction would wane off with time. But, each day, he felt a stronger attraction toward the iron lady.
” I’m in love. I love her immensely. But.. She will never accept me. I’m just a junior in her eyes. ” Vikram was crestfallen as his eyes were laden with sleep and soon he fell in the clutches of deep slumber.
Danisha’s bungalow wore a magnificent look. Strings of lights adorned mantles and doorways and ran along the rafters and the roof. The opulent bungalow lay at the outskirts of Boshir in the Asser valley among the many bungalows and homes of the army people. The bungalow was skirted with a colossal lawn which had pine trees lined up at the hem of the lawn. The lush green lawn was laden with chairs and round tables all over. In the right corner, barbecue kiosks were stationed; long tables were adorned with Continental, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Indian cuisines. In the left corner, a band of musicians were belting out their popular renditions. Beside the stage, there was a gigantic outdoor bar where one could find all kind of booze.
” Welcome boys. I was eagerly waiting for you. ” thundered Abhimanyu sir looking dapper in a sea blue sherwani.
Vikram, Hamish, Jackie, Karim entered with the other sergeants.
” Make yourself comfortable. All of you have made us proud.” Wing commander Dinesh uttered while offering the boys some drinks.
” I’ve heard that Bugga Reech is on the edge now and plans to attack Boshir. However, with boys like you in our army and Air Force, I’m sure all his plans will be foiled. “Abhimanyu sir poured some rum in the tall crystal glass and all of us clanked our glasses together to raise a toast.
” To my darling daughter, Danisha.Happy Birthday Danisha. ” Abhimanyu sir’s voice trailed off and he tried to control his tears as Danisha was alighting stairs of her bungalow’s main entrance.
All eyes turned toward Danisha. She was attired in an off-shoulder flowy purple gown whose hem touched just above her feet, her curly wavy hair kissing the nape of her neck.
Vikram was awestruck as he gazed at Danisha.
” I didn’t know it was her birthday today, ” Vikram murmured as he was flabbergasted by Danisha’s ravishing looks.
” Aiyee.. Control your emotions, buddy. Don’t ogle at her. ” Hamish nudged him.
” Our buddy has gone for a toss. “Jackie babbled.
” She doesn’t look our senior. I’m falling for her too. “Karim sputtered.
“Shut up. She is your bhabhi. Respect her. ” Vikram playfully admonished them.
” It’s her 35th birthday. How I wish Raghuveer and Karan were here.” Abhimanyu sir’s voice cracked.
” Uncle, please hold yourself. Today do not mention about Raghuveer and Karan. Danisha will be reminded of the devastation that had occurred. Wear a smile uncle. ” Dinesh pleaded.
” Yeah.. Ok.” Abhimanyu sir wiped his tears and broke into a smile.
Vikram and the boys seemed perplexed with the conversation that was taking place between Abhimanyu sir and Dinesh.
” My daughter. Happy Birthday. May you be blessed with good health and happiness my daughter. “Abhimanyu sir planted a peck on her forehead.
To be continued….