“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.
Boshir had been experiencing heavy incessant downpour since three days which resulted in massive floods. The low- lying areas were inundated with water and people had to be evacuated to safer destinations. Many people were trapped in their homes and were in distress with no electricity, food and water. The army, paramilitary forces threw themselves in the rescue operations. Danisha ,her team and all sergeants slogged their way out to save people.
In the Asser army camp, Danisha was chalking out a plan for the deployment of troops in the affected areas.
” Team A will comprise sergeant Mohmmad Kazi, sergeant Gulshan Pathan, sergeant Amitabh Ganguly. You will be accompanied by Major sergeant Hirendra Chauhan and you all will go to Bhimshika region.
Team B will comprise sergeant Kunal Patel, sergeant Bheem Dixit…” Danisha was hollering instructions to the boys.
” We’ll be in the final team.I guess.” Hamish said in a hushed tone.
” I’m dying to serve the nation. When will she announce my name?” Shorrey blabberrd.
” First fix your stomach arsewipe. You are suffering from digestion and flatulence, whole day just farting. First serve us by not killing us with your poisonous farts, then serve the nation.” Karim mumbled, squeezing his nose.
Laughter rang in the room which perturbed Danisha.
” Hey!! you all , in the corner.” She pointed at Vikram who was sharing the laugh too.
” Yes ma’am.”
” We have a pressing situation going on here and you all seem to take it lightly.” Danisha said in a stern voice.
” Sorry ma’am. My colleagues and I are waiting for your orders ma’am. But, they say that we should not be in your team, otherwise you will again put our lives in jeopardy.” Vikram cackled.
All the boys looked at Vikram in horror and volleyed out expletives at him in a hushed tone.
” Sergeant Hamish, Seargeant Karim, Sergeant Jackie , Sergeant Shorrey and Sergeant Vikram, you all are going to be in my team. Always remember, tough situations lead to tough warriors. By now, you all have become indefatigable warriors.” Danisha said before heading to check the relief materials.
” Gosh! We could have been in some other team. Vikram, you swine. You don’t miss any opportunity to be close to the Lady Hitler.You go and sit in her lap but why sacrifice us?” Jackie grunted.
” Cmon boys. I have to be with her to ensure that she doesn’t get into any treacherous situation.I have to be with her and I can’ t do without my friends either.” Vikram uttered the words in a tune as he winked at them.
” THIS ROMEO IS GOING TO DIE WHILE SAVING HIS JULIET ONE DAY.” Shorrey blurted out.
” And the funny part is she doesn’t even look at him.” Hamish uttered , holding Vikram’s cheeks and giving them a nice pull.” Unrequited love. I know it’s painful Vikku.” he laughed hysterically.
” I’m marrying the Juliet very soon.” Vikram said and whizzed out of the room in a swagger.
Danisha, Vikram and the boys checked all logistics and waited for the choppers to drop them in the Sawinga region where they planned to build makeshift boats and a makeshift bridge to enable movement of the people.
As they boarded the chopper Danisha whispered. ” Gotcha you. I’m happy that you will be in my team Vikram.” Her gaze shifted alternately between the pilot and Vikram.
Vikram, dumbstruck, ensconced himself beside her. While the two were exchanging furtive glances, the rest of the boys were bewildered as they saw Danisha’s change of heart.
She motioned the pilot to take off the metal beast which rose majestically after the engine gained momentum and its fans cavorted in the air. Danisha and the boys alighted at the eastern part of the Sawinga region, where they had to build a pontoon bridge , connecting the eastern part to the western part so that people could move to the eastern part which was not inundated and they would also get access to the relief camps, set up in the eastern part. Many brave locals pitched in their services to make the bridge in the inundated water. The water was galloping like a mighty beast consuming each and every thing that came its way. Buiding the bridge in such frenzied waters was a herculean task.
The pontoon structure built with concrete, steel, wood had been prepared by the engineers and the local people.These hollow, watertight vessels work on the buoyancy principle where they can support the weight equivalent to the amount of water they displace.The pontoons were towed into the water by barges and then anchored and moored so that they stay fixed. In a few hours,the bridge was ready following which the army, engineers and the local people cheered.
” Danisha ma’am, we need to send across boats to the western part via the bridge as we need access to the houses which are in the remote corners.” Gaurav, the engineer incharge for the building of the bridge, hollered.
” So what are we waiting for? Let’s transport the boats via the bridge and we will use these boats to get to our people in distress.” Danisha motioned as a horde of technicians, local people , army men shuttled the boats on humongous carts with wheels via the bridge. As they reached the western part of Sawinga, the boats were towed in the water. After wiggling for sometime, the boats settled and different teams hopped onto them.
Shorrey, Jackie and Karim took the ‘ Mahanaya’ boat while Hamish, Vikram and Danisha boarded the ‘ Titli’ boat. Two local persons accompanied them in each boat as they would know about every nook and corner of the region.
” Ma’am, the boat has the capacity to transport a maximum of fifty persons.How are we going to evacuate all people in distress?” Hamish quizzed as he frantically rowed the boat.
” We will save whomever we can. Remember , some people are stranded on their homes’ rooftops where we can’t reach. In those cases, we will just inform the airforce team and they will send choppers to airlift them. Moreover, we need to look for people who are at a lower altitude and stuck . ” Danisha looked through her binoculars and her eyes roved across the expanse of the whole region. Suddenly, her sight was fixed on a coconut tree where she could see a heavily pregnant lady sitting atop the coconut tree lugging on her infant child.Danisha was flabbergasted.
” Vikram, look in the right direction.A pregnant lady with a child is struggling to sit atop a coconut tree. O..God..she sits precariously. She could fall. Row the boat toward the right.” Danisha flung her binoculars to Vikram as she cracked her knuckles in trepidation.
” Gracious ..Lord. There she is. Hamish…Iktara…Ballu, row the boat fast toward the tree.” Vikram hollered looking through the binoculars.
Their boat jiggled in the demented waters as everyone in the boat was in knots.
The boys rowed frantically struggling against the mighty ripples which came as hungry beasts as if to devour the boat.As soon as the boat hit the coconut tree, Vikram catapulted an anchor which dug its tooth in the topmost part of the tree. The anchor would serve two purposes.One- it will not let the boat be like a wanton lover venturing in all possible directions.Two- the rope attached to the anchor will help Vikram to climb the tree.
” Lug it to see if it is fixed properly.” Danisha suggested.
Vikram lugged to see if the rope was taut enough for him to climb up the tree.By now, the hapless woman had spotted them and was wailing loudly.
” Sister, hold on, I’m coming to fetch you down.” Vikram shrieked.
Vikram clambered up the tree; securing his feet onto the topmost branch, he asked the lady to hand over the infant to him. He clutched the little one and asked the woman to clomp down gingerly. The woman plodded through the branches and held Vikram first by clenching him with one hand and then with the second.
” Hold me tight sister. Do not be afraid.” Vikram wheezed as he tightened his grip further on the rope. As the infant snuggled onto his left embrace, he began descending by loosening his right grip once and tightening it the next second till some part of the rope was covered. The woman had shut her eyes tight and clung Vikram as if she were a baby. The barbarous friction that Vikram’s hands were subjected to made his hands bleed. As he was descending, the rope was being coloured gory red.
As they approached the boat, Danisha grabbed the infant and Hamish tore the pregnant lady from Vikram’s back. She was made to lay down and given water to drink.
” Your hand is bleeding profusely.” Danisha said while handing over the infant to one of the boys. Tearing a strip of her uniform, she tied it around Vikram’s wounded hands.
” Do I always have to tear shreds of my uniform to attend to your wounds ?” Danisha whispered.
” I never ask you to do so”
” But, I can’t see your pain.”
” Tell me.”
” Why should I?”
Hamish looking at them like a specatator watching a match of table tennis does.
To be continued…