” 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. “Abhimanyu sir planted a peck on her forehead.
” I know papa. I have your blessings always. You’ve made me what I’m today. ” Danisha held Abhimanyu sir’s palm close to her cheek as her eyes welled up with tears.
” Boys, get the cake. Father, daughter, hold back your emotions. Today is celebration time. ” Dinesh hollered in excitement.
” We didn’t know that it’s ma’am’s birthday today or else we would have brought gifts. ” Vikram remarked.
” It’s my birthday, Vikram. But, no formalities please. This celebration is also to mark the successful completion of everyone of yours training. ” Danisha muttered adjusting the creases of her gown.
The boys brought the cake and soon the birthday song rang in the air as Danisha grasped the handle of the sterling silver knife and cut the cake. After everyone had their pieces of cake, Danisha’s friends smeared some on her face. Then, Danisha and her friends started dancing on some popular songs while the boys, Dinesh and Abhimanyu sir proceeded toward the bar for some more drinks.
” Boys, today have no hitch. Drink to your heart’s content. After months we see our Danisha smiling again. ” Dinesh said with a drawl.
Abhimanyu sir joined his other colleagues while Dinesh and Vikram sat in the armchairs which were beside the bar. Hamish, Jackie and Karim too joined the girls for a dance.
” So, boy, I heard you had demonstrated great valour and saved our Danisha from Bugga Reech.” Dinesh stated while planting some encouraging pats on Vikram’s back.
“Yeah, ma’am trained us so well. It’s all her training. ” Vikram remarked in a firm voice while sipping his drink. ” Do you mind, if I ask you a question, sir. How are you related to ma’am? ” Vikram was getting jealous seeing Dinesh’s proximity to Danisha, so he couldn’t control himself and popped the question.
” O.. She’s my baby. I mean she is Karan’s sister and Karan was my best friend. Karan and I were together posted in the Yalington sector of Boshir. He.. is no more. ” Dinesh kept his drink aside on the floor and rested his back in the armchair as he gazed at the multitudes of stars which twinkled in the sky. He sighed, “He was martyrd in an ambush with Bugga Reech and his minions.
” I know, Danisha told me. ” Vikram mumbled, fidgeting with the glass in his hand.
Dinesh glanced at him as he found a bit awkward when Vikram pronounced Danisha’s name. After all, she was his boss.
“Er.. Ma’am.. Ma’am, told me. “Vikram uttered.
“It’s ok. After Raghuveer was martyrd, Danisha slipped into depression. Karan and I had brought her back to her senses. Getting widowed within fifteen days was a hard fact for her to come to terms with.”
“Yes. Danisha. “
“Wh-what are you saying Dinesh sir. I don’t get you. “
“Oh.. So you are oblivious to this fact. Raghuveer was Danisha’s husband who was martyrd within fifteen days of their wedding. “
Vikram’s eyes widened in disbelief. Danisha, the beautiful and resolute lady who left no stone unturned to ensure that he and the boys had access to superlative training, carried such grief, such anguish in her heart. He felt as if someone had sliced his heart with a spear. He felt helpless and disconsolate; he felt as if someone very dear to him was in deep doldrums and he wasn’t able to do anything about it. At that instance, he realised, how much he loved Danisha. He could feel her pain. He clasped his hands together and sank in his armchair.
” How was Raghuveer martyrd? “
” He was on a routine sortie of the Asser valley in a microlight aircraft of the Asser Air Force which crashed in Delgaam area. After they had flown, we got information from the Asser Air Force that one of their aircrafts had gone off the radar. After, we reached at the spot, all we had of Raghuveer were dismembered body parts. ” Dinesh burst into tears.
Vikram held Dinesh to console him.
” Danisha and Raghuveer had an arranged marriage and by the time love had blossomed between them , Raghuveer was gone. Poor girl. She was learning to love Raghuveer when fate ordained only turbulence in her life. It was a turbulent dawn when Raghuveer’s coffin was brought home. Abhimanyu sir , Karan and Danisha were inconsolable. But, you know, we who serve the nation have to have unshakeable strength. Within days, normalcy was resumed and everyone got back to their duties. However, though Danisha was performing her duties formidably, she was slipping into depression. Karan and I pulled her out from the dark abyss she was falling into. Yet again, after Karan was martyrd, Danisha braved the onslaughts of the harsh fate but she had become a stone. She hardly smiled. Today after many months, I can see some traces of happiness on her face.” Dinesh said as a pall of gloom had descended on Vikram.
Vikram was speechless. All he wanted was to hug Danisha and give her all the happiness that a lady deserved. He was sure that he loved her. He was sure that he would love her more than the stars in the sky. He knew that he would love her in all hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, without ever demanding anything in return. That moment Vikram was overpowered by emotions, it dawned upon him that he loved Danisha immensely. He didn’t care about the age disparity, he didn’t bother that Danisha was her senior. He looked in the direction of Danisha and found her dancing away merrily. He decided that day that he would marry her come what may. He decided that the next day after he would be awarded the red band in the ceremony, he would ask Abhimanyu sir, her hand in marriage.
Dinesh was murmuring something but Vikram was in a new world altogether. He was mentally with Danisha, one hand on her petite waist , the other interlocked with hers, as they swirled around on the mellifluous music, murmuring sweet nothings to each other.
To be continued…