“What would you do if I leave this world before you?”
“Sanjay, you must be awarded for asking the bride such an amazing question just a day after the wedding.”
“I am quite serious, Neelima, please reply for my sake.”
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
“Neelima, many a time, the answer that we search for, would stay right in front of our eyes, hiding in plain sight. It’s just that we need to look closer and deeper.”
Why did we ever have this conversation for it to come true so soon, even before celebrating our first anniversary together?
Somehow, I am determined not to shed a tear, still, it is so hard. I am trying to look around, carrying the heaviness that has engulfed me more than I could imagine. I am a few hundred meters away from the majestic sunset peak situated southwest of Srinagar. How I wish we should have enjoyed the scenic beauty together.
Initially, I was reluctant to come here. My mom insisted I should visit this place to honor the cairns that were erected in your memory, Sanjay. Yes, they are special and they look beautiful as well. It was built by the families of the four people whom you managed to save before you were shot by the enemies on our border. A pile of rocks, one above the other, neatly balanced. Totally there are four heaps.
The first set comprises pristine white pebbles. It reminds me of your innocent smile.
Next, the mossy green pebbles flash the times when you voluntarily picked up fights in our video calls only to apologize by passing a fleeting kiss.
The gloomy grey pebbles form the third, just like when you tried to scare me with your silly pranks, for which I pretended to look terrified, only to please you.
Lastly, the crimson ones match with the lehenga I wore for our wedding.
Beneath them touching the ground stands this single piece of solid rock with your name engraved, Major Sanjay Bhansali. My fingers caress the letters with a slight tremble.
Can our memories keep me sane till my last breath?
Answer me Sanjay, please.
A gentle wind strokes me as I feel a sudden ray of warmness spreading over, and I look above. The sky is adorned with orange and pink hues, bidding farewell to the sun. The yellow beams take several paths amidst the cairns and finally converge on me. I cup my palms together like receiving them. I closely look into the light as your voice echoes in my mind.
Thank you, Sanjay, I now realize.
After 11 months, the headlines
Neelima, the wife of Major Sanjay Bhansali, who died in the terrorist attack claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist group last year, joined the Indian Army today. Her words after the ceremony at the Training Academy.
“I take this opportunity to thank my family for being supportive in my decision. I know Sanjay will be with me as my guiding light.”
Author’s Note: A fictional story, inspired from the true incident.
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