“You have got just thirty minutes to dress yourself and catch your flight,” said Simran, stuffing my luggage. She was apparelled in a lemon yellow suit with white dupatta round her neck. Strands of hair disturbing the serenity of her beauty, she looked gorgeous.
“When you dreamily play with your hair… it’s adorable
When you whirl my hair round your fingers… it’s such a turn on
When you really want something… you make puppy eyes
When you don’t like something… you wrinkle your nose
And whenever you are wearing a nose ring or stud… I am floored!” I said, taking her in my arms and looking straight into her eyes. She sighed and said “Hurry up” while pushing me aside.
I managed to get ready within thirty minutes and was all set to depart for the airport.
“Listen, you need not to show much of your heroism. Coming Tuesday is our first wedding anniversary, and I want you to be here, so promise me you will come back,” said Simran. I could mark the tears in her eyes, and her shattered voice.
“Look, I don’t know what is destined for me. We have to kill some bastards at the valley. And we don’t know how many are there and how much time it is going to take. But now as you want me at our anniversary, I promise you, no matter what, I will come back. But now I am quite worried,” I said sarcastically
“Why,” said Simran wiping her tears
“Because now, these terrorists have got a really short duration to live. I will have to kill them soon and come back to my beautiful wife,” I said and kissed her on the forehead. As per tradition, she fed me a spoon of curd and placed a Tilak over my forehead.
I left for the airport and caught the flight to Delhi. From there I was taken to Poonch in Jammu. The task to kill the terrorists, hiding inside a villa, was given to my regiment. I was joined by my battalion who explained the position. We started our operation at morning 02:00 hours. There was heavy exchange of fires from both positions. We had killed five terrorists, but unfortunately we lost one of our allies. After six hours of firing, they stopped responding to our bullets.
“I think, we need to move inside. I doubt, there is anyone left inside” I said to Havildar Sushant Manjhi. He nodded to accept my orders and stood up.
“No, wait. I will go. You give me cover fire,” I ordered. Sushant was married and had two young children. He was the only bread earner for the family.
“Listen, if I don’t come back, then please hand this note to my wife,” I handed a note that I always used to write before going to any assignments.
It was completely dark inside. At the entrance I found the dead bodies of three terrorists. I slowly crawled up the steps. There were two dead bodies over the steps. I looked around and checked every room and closet. There were no more terrorists. I got a sense of relief and lay down over the floor.
“Sushant, stop firing. We are clear. Jai Hind!” I exclaimed with pride. I could hear “Jai Hind” from Sushant.
“What sound is that?” I muttered to myself as I heard some clicking sound.
“Have they left a time bomb?” I wondered. I burnt some papers around me to get sufficient lights.
“Oh no. It’s a bomb,” I shouted.
“Sushant, don’t come close. They have left a bomb and……”
I don’t recollect what happened then, but I could see a huge smoke coming out of that villa. I congratulated myself for winning this battle. I was happy that now I can go to Simran and celebrate our anniversary.
“Why are there so many peoples at my home?” I questioned myself while approaching towards my apartment. I could find out my parents crying over someone’s dead body kept in the hall.
“Who died” I screamed and ran towards them. To my surprise they didn’t even notice me. I was yelling, crying, but no one bothered to look at me. I touched them, but that also went unrecognized. Then I saw, my sister bringing Simran out of the bedroom. Simran looked so worn out and her eyes were swollen red. She was not wearing any bangles, Bindi and her favorite nose ring.
“Simran, look at me. What has happened to you? Today is Tuesday, our first wedding anniversary. What have you done to yourself?” I said hugging her. But, afterwards I found she crossed me and I could not even feel that. She sat down near the body and laid her head over its chest. Later she uncovered the face of the body and started crying loud. I was shocked to see her this way. I went nearer to her and looked at the body.
“Is this me?”
“Am I dead?” “No,” “Simran, look at me, I am not dead. See, I came back. I've kept my promise. Please look at me, please” I cried madly.
“Madam, this is for you. Sir had asked me to give it to you if he didn’t return,” said Sushant and handed the note. Now I knew, I was dead. It was hurting me to the core of my heart.
“Please don’t cry. I am here, please look at me,” I said to Simran, trying to wipe her tears. But I could not. Simran took the note and saw it with her heavy eyes
“My soul will always be around you, they will just hand over my body to you”