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.
The next day at the ‘Red Band ceremony ‘ , all junior sergeants were attired in crisp army suits, each looking dapper. The commander, the three lieutenant sergeants and the two Resdintend sergeants were all seated in the front row observing the military parade which had the contingents from the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.
While the major sergeants led the contingents, the soldiers swayed their hands in synchronised movements to the tune of the drum and fife corps.The commander and the lieutenant sergeants couldn’t help but hail the galant display.
Danisha led an all women contingent which brandished all newly acquired weaponry from Garujistan. The valiant women showcased their gallantry as the mesmerised crowd hailed, ” Jai Boshir. Jai Boshiristan”. There also was a contigent which displayed dangerous stunts on bikes.
Whispers of trepidation escaped from the crowd as the contigent created formations such as fish riding, peacock, faulad and side riding which drew applaud from the crowd. The dare devil bikers squad was the major attraction of the event.
After the display, it was time for the commander, Abhimanyu Raheja, Danisha’s father to address the gathering. He rose up and marched up to the podium.
” We take immense pride in honouring our sergeants who have not only successfully completed their vigorous training but also demonstrated exceptional gallantry in the face of overwhelming enemy attacks. The valour and courage of these sergeants will be remembered for posterity. I feel immensely fortunate to award the red bands to these brave men.
These bands are more precious than all the medals that you would earn along the way in your journey of serving Boshiristan. ” As Abhimanyu sir’s voice echoed in the stadium, the crowd erupted in applause. He invited all the sergeants one by one on the stage and tied the bands on their wrists.
Vikram was elated as he received the band from Abhimanyu sir. He knew that the time had come for him to proclaim his true feelings for Danisha. He could have divulged his feelings to her, however, he felt it imperative to ask her father for her hand first and then propose her.
After the ceremony, a scrumptious lunch was organised for all attendees. Everybody ambled toward the lawn where counters for Continental, Italian, Japanese and Indian food were laid out. Tables were too laid out for the guests to sit and enjoy the palatable food.
Abhimanyu sir bounded up to him and stroked his shoulder firmly.
” Why glum boy? Anything bothering you. “
“N.. Nothing sir. Just feeling the heat. ” Vikram was darn nervous. Beads of perspiration erupted on his forehead and made their way down his cheeks.
” You were the one who vanquished Bugga Reech and you feeling the heat son?? Tough men and women are impervious to heat and cold and any uncertainty. C’mon boy, you are holding up a secret. I don’t have grey hair just like that. Out with it. ” Abhimanyu sir cajoled Vikram while lighting up his cigar.
” Sir, I have something important to discuss with you. I don’t know how should I start?.. But “
” Life passes by in a blink, boy. Don’t mull over anything for long. Be expressive. Whatever it is, should be done and dusted off just now. ” he said as he blew out a puff of smoke.
” I want to marry Danisha. “
There was silence.
Abhimanyu sir gave a curt stare at Vikram.
” Only.. Only if you agree. I mean. I love her and I don’t think I will ever be able to bring myself to love someone else. ” He struggled with his words but his voice rang with genuine emotions of love.
” Boy, this might be infatuation. You are only 25. I hope you realize that Danisha is your senior and 10 years older than you. ” Abhimanyu sir nodded his head in disapproval.
” Sir, it doesn’t matter to me. All I know is that I’ll keep her very happy. We will share a life of love and respect for each other. You can be rest assured sir, I’ll love her more than myself till my last breath. ” Vikram didn’t realise when his tone became that of supplication. He was apprehensive that if Abhimanyu sir declines his wish, he might lose his sanity. The mere thought of separating from Danisha made him jittery. ” I’ll keep her happy sir, very happy.”
” Boy, you need to know some facts. Life is not a bed of roses.It also breeds thorns. Danisha is a widow. She loved someone else deeply. And.. “Abhimanyu sir’s voice quivered.
” I know everything about Raghuveer. It’s her past and I honor her past. Her love for Raghuveer must have been wonderful which made her what she is today. I wouldn’t want to change anything about her life. I accept Danisha with all my heart. I only want to be her present and future. “he stated assertively.
Abhimanyu sir glanced at him intently. After staying quiet for sometime, he plopped on one of the chairs which were lined up all along the hem of the garden area.
” You are being obdurate. “
” It’s love, sir.”
” Danisha won’t agree. “
” She will come around. “
” How can you be so sure. “
” I know, she will have to give in someday. I’ll love her so much. I’ll be her shadow from now on. “
” Boy, you have won me over. Ok.. I’ll talk to her tonight. If she agrees, I have no qualms. I can get you both married. ” Abhimanyu sir rose up ,clasping Vikram’s shoulders, he peered into his eyes intently. ” You never give up.. Uhh.. “
” Never. Even if there’s one percent chance, I give it a shot. ”
Before Vikram realised, Abhimanyu sir hugged him tight.
” I’m glad that you never give up. “
” Hello… What’s this endearment all about? I’m growing jealous. “Danisha bounded up to them looking perplexed.
” We were by the way just having a man to man discussion. Vikram was telling me that I do have a chance of having an affair and I look very handsome. ” Abhimanyu sir guffawed.
” In that case, I’m sure mom would be seeing you from heaven and if you face hurdles in your stint with love, you know who would be sending them. ” Danisha chuckled.
” I know, your mom won’t let me be in peace. She holds my reins even now when she’s gone. ” Abhimanyu sir shook his head.
” Let’s have our lunch. ” Danisha suggested.
Then, the three proceeded toward the lunch counters, Danisha, oblivious of the fact that soon her life was going to change was revelling in the company of Vikram, Hamish, Jackie and Karim. Vikram stole many glances at her all during the lunch time, Abhimanyu sir observed that Danisha was enjoying the company of Vikram. He knew that from inside how lonely his daughter felt. And Vikram was sent by the heavens for her daughter. Yes, this was going to be the right thing for Danisha. He decided that he would speak with Danisha about it at night.
” Papa, what’s wrong with you? You know how much I loved Veer. I can’t think of marrying anyone else. ” Danisha plonked on the sofa holding her head between her palms. She called Raghuveer, Veer as an endearment.
” My lovely child. There’s nothing wrong in this. Your Veer is no more. And I’m sure even he would want the same thing as I want for you. Everybody needs someone, someone who would be by one’s side, someone who would love unconditionally, come what may. ” Abhimanyu sir took small steps toward Danisha, sat beside her and lovingly caressed her head.
” You are there for me. Don’t you love me unconditionally? I don’t even have memories of mom. For me, you were everything and you are always by my side, papa. I can’t.. can’t forget Veer. ” As words escaped her lips, she started crying profusely.
Abhimanyu sir comforted her and put her head on his lap, the way he used to when she was a child. ” I won’t be there for long, Danisha. I’m getting old darling. Even, Karan has left us. When I die, I want to die in peace. I’ll always be restless in the heavens if I leave you all alone. Vikram is a nice chap. He loves you immensely. You need a companion my child. ”
” Vikram is my junior. How dare he love me. I’ll whip him till he drops dead. ” Danisha growled.
” Danisha, I like the boy and he saved you from Bugga Reech, don’t forget that. ” Abhimanyu sir gave a curt reply.
” Yes, he saved me. That doesn’t mean he gets a licence to romance me. ” Danisha rose and clenched her fists.
” Danisha, I can’t force you, however, I request you to consider him. I’m sure, he’ll keep you very happy. And you see, when your mother and I got married, we didn’t even know each other. The beauty of falling in love slowly and steadily is ethereal. You don’t love Vikram. I understand. Spend some time with him. Know each other. You never know when cupid hits. My princess will listen to papa. She always has. ” Abhimanyu sir cajoled her as she softly placed her head on papa’s chest.
” But, papa. I’m his boss. Most of the times, I holler out orders at him. How.. will I fall in love? ” Danisha had never ever been so confounded in her life.
” When you are not doing your duty, in the evenings, spend time with each other. Those times, you’ll not be his boss, but a friend, a companion. Go, watch plays, movies. Open up to him. Let your hair down and paint the town red my girl. ” Abhimanyu sir’s voice had a peppy tremble which Danisha liked. Her father was her everything. Watching the gleam in his eyes, made her heart grow fonder. If her father wants her to warm up to Vikram so be it.
To be continued….