” 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.
The stage was resplendent with multicolored lights flashing in the background as the protagonist couple gyrated to the thumping music. The spectators couldn’t help applauding at the synchronized steps that the couple took in a gleeful manner.
Danisha and Vikram sat in the audience looking nervous in each other’s company. Danisha wore what was an aberration from her usual uniform; a mauve flowy gown featuring a cinched elastic off shoulder neckline with a ruffle trim, long sleeves, a hi-low hemline and a maxi silhouette.Vikram looked dapper in a navy-blue tuxedo suit. As the song and dance reached a crescendo, Danisha’s heart fluttered fast and she could hear her own heartbeats. She looked at Vikram from the corner of her eyes. Many thoughts clambered for attention in her mind.
‘Why does Vikram want to marry her? Was she still attractive after suffering so many tribulations? After Veer and Karan’s death, she was least bothered about her looks. Veer was passionate about his duty toward the motherland so Danisha– while serving the nation– felt she was carrying the legacy of Veer forward. She hardly cared about her beauty. But, today she felt like preeing in the mirror and evaluating her looks. Vikram could not stop glancing at her every now and then. His mind was clouded with many thoughts too.
‘ Do I deserve her? She is a goddess radiating sunbeams always . Will I be able to make her happy? I will happily lay down my life for her. Will she accept me? After much cajoling she agreed to come for the play. I hope she accepts my friendship first and then, I will take things forward slowly. ‘
The play came to an end and everyone started exiting the venue. Vikram and Danisha ambled toward the pathway that led to the intersection of two main roads . At the intersection, they headed straight to an open double decker bus and ensconced themselves in the corner seats . As the bus glided through avenues and then toward the countryside taking them to the Zahara lake, the wanton breeze played with Danisha’s hair and her brown tresses tumbled about her face. Vikram intermittently was glancing at her.
” Am I being very pushy ma’am? I hope you are comfortable in my company? ” Vikram stuttered clutching the head rest of the seat in front of him.
” You can call me Danisha. And.. I wanted to know you better so I came. You aren’t being pushy. ” Danisha murmered. Today she felt very ladylike in Vikram’s presence. Somehow the serenity she experienced in his company was inexpressible.
” I know you feel strange talking to your junior about marriage and stuff. But, I can’t think of sharing my life with someone else. This is what was meant to be. ” Vikram’s expressions showed Danisha his soul – unadulterated, pure and prestine soul.
” It will be wrong for me to say that I don’t like you. In fact, I’m beginning to enjoy your company Vikram. I.. I hope my past won’t trouble you. ” Danisha couldn’t believe that somehow in a tiny corner of her heart, she nursed a fear of losing him.
” Danisha, promise me. From now on, we’ll never talk about your past. Let bygones be bygones. From now on, we’ll talk about celebrating our lives, about our togetherness. I will never pressurize you to enter into matrimony hurriedly. Take your sweet time to know me. And I promise you that during duty hours, I will be an obedient junior. ” Vikram chuckled.
Soon the bus halted in front of Zahara lake. They alighted the bus and walked toward the lake where thick opulent Chinar trees lined up at the entire road they took. They booked a houseboat and boarded it. The iridescent water in the lake looked breathtakingly beautiful as did the sky filled with yellow-orangish hue; the sun being weary decided to go for its slumber. The two plopped in the houseboat, maintaining a distance and looking into the sky, as the oarsman skillfully but frantically rowed the sculls to propel the houseboat in the water.
” Do you need something to munch? ” Vikram asked proffering some groundnuts nestled in his palm toward Danisha.
Danisha took some and munched on the peanuts while he gazed at her , sometimes the gaze wistfully shifting toward the horizon.
” Tell me about your family? Who all are there in your family? ” she asked.
” I have been raised by my aunt, my mother’s sister. I don’t have any one else. My parents lost their lives in the earthquake that jolted Pashmana twenty years ago. I only have Garima aunty, no one else”. Vikram uttered the words with difficulty; he was crestfallen.
” I’m terribly sorry to hear this. I guess we all are somewhere broken from inside yet are braving the ordeals to live the life that god has bestowed us with. Life is a struggle between being wholesome and being dejected at the same time. So let’s choose to make ourselves whole by filling up the empty ‘not so perfect spaces’ that we have in us by taking help from others. Will you fill up my ‘not so perfect spaces’ by being my friend, Vikram? ” Danisha looked into Vikram’s eyes holding his arm.
Vikram’s happiness knew no bounds. He held Danisha’s hand and murmured, ” Yes.. Danisha.. Yes. Will you.. Will you fill up ‘my not so perfect spaces’ by being my everything? Will you be my friend? Will you be my companion? “
” I agree to get married to you, Vikram. But.. I will want to take things forward slowly. I want to be your friend first. ” Danisha uttered hesitantly.
” There’s no pressure on you Danisha. If you don’t want marriage now, we can wait. I know Abhimanyu Sir is pestering you with this demand. But.. I agree to take it slowly, steadily but surely from here. I’m proud to be your friend. ” Vikram said while giving a high five to her.
” You know once I tied a trail of bombs onto my principal’s pants “. Vikram guffawed.
” Oh.. You might have got a good thrashing. I know you are very naughty. ” Danisha pursed her lips and squeezed his cheek.
” You know once… “
And the conversation went on.
The houseboat rippled in the water; the laughter of Danisha and Vikram reveberating in the Zahara lake.