As they approached the boat, Danisha grabbed the infant and Hamish tore the pregnant lady from Vikram’s back. She was made to lie 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 was looking at them like a specatator watching a match of table tennis does.
Danisha,Vikram and team saved many people in distress- an old man who clung to his house’s roof; two children who sat on a shrub which was on the verge of being collapsed; a Muslim couple stranded on a temple’s dome; a Hindu couple clinging, with all their might, onto a minaret of a mosque; some college students. The calamity had brought people together; everyone helping each other irrespective of caste, creed and colour. The people who were stranded at a higher altitude on their roofs were rescued by the airforce teams after getting a tip off from Danisha and team or the other teams who were braving the gushing waters and searching all possible places for saviours.
Each team had carried out many such boat rounds, saving people and dropping them onto the pontoon bridge. The people were then guided to the relief camps which provided not only shelter to the displaced people but also provided good quality food, medicine, clothes etc.
After the floods receded, Danisha, Vikram and everybody at the Asser army camp, threw themselves in the restoration work. For two months, they worked tirelessly to resurrect Boshir again. While Danisha and Vikram worked hand in hand, Danisha grew fonder of Vikram. She couldn’t imagine her life without Vikram now. Everyone spoke in hushed tone about the brewing affair between a junior sergeant and a senior widow, the hearsay reaching Abhimanyu sir’s ears.
” You both need to get married.” Abhimayu sir commanded.
In the month of January, when the rivers freeze, the valley is cloaked in white. Locals, clad in layers of woollens burn wood and the air is tinged with blue and grey.Life in the valley become slow-paced depending on the whims of the weather. Danisha and Vikram decided to marry in this period in a quiet ceremony, in the warmness of Danisha’s home, with a handful of friends and relatives.
Attired in a crimson red lehenga, Danisha looked like a dream. The tassles of her intricately embroidered dupatta, ensconced on her head, like a crown, gleaming in the starry night. Her diamond studded nose ring (nath) glimmered as the hoop of it covered her face and touched her quivering lips. Abhimanyu sir and Dinesh held Danisha’s hands and led her toward the pious fire which blazed frantically in the havan kund. Vikram clad in a crimson red sherwani and matching turban was flanked by Garima aunty , Hamish, Jackie,Karim, Shorrey who gestured him to sit before the sputtering fire.
After Danisha sat and snuggled herself, sitting close beside Vikram, the priest started his incantation of the chants which denoted the seven vows a couple needs to take in order to become one. After the oblations to the fire god was complete and after Danisha and Vikram circumambulated the pious fire, Vikram applied vermilion in parting of her hair, thus, solemnizing the wedding. The newly weds took blessings of the elders and everyone wished the couple. Hamish, Jackie, Karim and Shorrey were dancing as if there were no tomorrow.
” Madam Danisha …how does it feel to be known as Danisha Singhania?” Vikram nudged Danisha and asked her with a drawl.
” Sir…Vikram Singhania . I will be called as Danisha Raheja Singhania. I hope you wouldn’t mind.” she quipped.
” There’s no question of minding. Danisha Raheja Singhania, I’m proud to be your husband.” Vikram struggled to speak as his eyes welled up with tears. He couldn’t contain his emotions.
“I, too am, proud to be your wife.” Danisha was overpowered by emotions too. She clasped Vikram’s hand and kissed it gently. ” I will love you forever.”she murmured.
Vikram suddenly thumped his chest and lay on the floor.” O..Danisha..I’m dead. I can’t handle so much love.” he hollered.
Everyone roared with laughter when Shorrey squawked, ” I told you Vikram.. YOU ROMEO WILL DIE BECAUSE OF YOUR JULIET ONE DAY, there you go.”
” Cmon, Shorrey. Don’t engage in nonsensical talks.” Abhimanyu sir rebuked him lovingly.
After the ceremony, everyone engaged in amiable banter. The outside acerbic cold wasn’t able to touch these mortals who were reveling in merrymaking as their beloved friends tied the knot.
” See what I have got for you.” Vikram screeched in a puerile tone.
” Raw mangoes. Ummh..I want to eat them all.” Danisha hollered throwing her arms around Vikram.
” My dear madam, be slow. And remember, junior Danisha might be slumbering in the womb.”Vikram stated clasping Danisha’s bloated tummy as he felt the child inside wriggle.
” Ouch..junior Vikram is being obdurate.He doesn’t listen.Gives pain to mumma.” Danisha said plonking on the armchair as she was feeling enervated.
Nowadays, Danisha, six-months pregnant, would get indisposed easily.She had taken maternity leave from her duties. Vikram, though had a hectic work schedule, would ensure that Danisha felt loved and pampered, all the more because these days, she would experience overwhelming emotions, crying at the drop of a hat.
” Danisha, I want a girl, just like you. A brave yet cute little girl.” Vikram said as he caressed her hair.
” I want a junior Vikram. That’s it. Don’t I have the right to decide? I’m the mother. And..I’m bearing the child.It’s not like you just lay the egg and forget.” Danisha hid her face in her palms and started howling.
Vikram wasn’t prepared for this sudden outburst. He sat beside her. Bringing her closer, he gave her a peck on her forehead.” Alright, as you say madam. You have been the boss and you are the boss. We’ll have a junior Vikram.”
” Exactly! Yesterday, you promised me that you’ll come early but you came late at night.I couldn’t serve you dinner as I didn’t realize when I slept.” she was wailing. ” And Dilawer kaka, our driver has lost the car keys. And..and, I can’t find the duplicate keys. Papa, nowadays, keeps so busy. He hardly talks.”she had a string of complaints and as she voiced each one of them, she would wail and howl.
Vikram carried her in his arms, plodded toward the bed and placed her gingerly on the bed.
” You need to sleep madam. I will sort out everything.You sleep now.” Vikram lay beside her and patted her forehead to make her sleep just like a mother would do a child.
” Vikku, I’m no child. I’m alright now. Tell me, what makes you so busy nowadays.” she questioned.
” My boss, you are on sick leave.So, nowadays, all highly confidential matters are being handled by mostly Hamish, Karim and myself.” Vikram said while caressing her hair.
” What’s bothering you these days. I can feel that you are tensed.” Danisha was concerned.
” Bugga Reech.”
” What happened?”
” Our forces are trying to nab him but he escapes every time”
” His men killed our three men last week”
” Yesterday, we killed one of his men, Charlie.”
” There have been so many developments and you don’t even tell me.” Danisha was miffed.
” You have already done so much as a major sargeant. Now, I want you to enjoy this phase–‘way to motherhood’.” Vikram said nonchalantly.
” Ummhh..so what next? You all should keep a low profile and garner information about him and then stealthily attack him. He’ll go bonkers.” she opiniated.
” Sure dear. That’s what our intelligence is trying to do. Fish out information about him. Ok..now sleep Danisha. You need rest and junior Vikram needs rest.Sleep now.” Vikram planted a kiss on her cheek.
” You’re digressing from what we were discussing. ” Danisha blurted out.
“Shh..Tomorrow, we need to visit your papa. Sleep now.” Vikram caressed her hair, slowly Danisha’s overtaxed and sleep deprived mind was lulled into deep slumber.
To be continued…