“Hello, am I speaking to Mr. Kushal Bakshi?” a man with the heavy toned voice on the other side of the phone asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Sir, I am from Channel 24, Mr. Pramod Sengupta would have discussed with you about the documentary we are making on ‘Life in Indian Airforce’ and a small interview on your brother Flt Lt. Vikram Bakshi.”
My brother Vikram Bakshi owned the respectful rank of Flight Lieutenant in IAF. A good man, who died when his MiG-21 fighter aircraft was crashed near the southern borders of Punjab.
“Yes, I know. We have scheduled the interview for the same tomorrow morning.” I said.
“Yes sir, I called just to confirm the things.”
“So you are the one who is making the documentary?” I asked.
“Yes sir, My name is Kabir Dutta and I am on an internship with channel 24.” he introduced himself.
As the phonic conversation ended, I saw Tina, my loving wife looking at me with lots of questions.
“What happened Kushal, who was that?” Tina asked.
“Guys from Channel 24, the interview thing that I told you earlier, they called just to confirm.” I said.
“Okay, but what about Riya? Should we tell her about the interview?” Tina asked.
“Riya would be leaving for Delhi today with Kunal to meet her parents, would be fine. She does not need to know about this interview” I said. Tina nodded with a barely audible “Hmmm” sound and walked inside the room with a thud of the door being shut behind.
Next Day : – Morning.
“Coming. Just a second.” I shouted after hearing the third knock on the main door.
The Channel 24 guy.
I saw a guy with full beard, wearing big black framed glasses and long hairs with full beard, he looked more like a homeless guy.
“Hello sir, Myself Kabir Dutta, I called you yesterday for the interview.” saying this he pulled his right hand out from his pocket for a formal handshake.
We shook hands.
We comforted ourselves in the drawing room, Kabir sat on the side couch chair on the right side of me. Tina brought us some tea and sat next to me.
“So Mr. Dutta, take your pen and pad, let’s begin.” I said.
“Yes sir.” he said and arranged himself perfectly with a recorder and a writing pad having a pen tied to it.
No one’s going to steal that ugly pen, I shouted in my mind after seeing his pad and pen arrangement.
“Sir, I want to know everything about Flt Lt. Vikram Bakshi,” he said “His childhood, his teenage, his adulthood, I mean his whole life. Everything.”
“And his love life? you should take a note to that also, an officers love.”
“It would be my life experience to hear that,” Kabir said with a smile that hid under his moustache.
“A person who can give love and would never expect anything in return was Vikram,” saying this I remembered that Vikram maintained a diary.
“He was habitual of maintaining a diary actually, he wrote his everyday things in the form of some lines, mostly on the people he loved, Sometimes a poem or sometimes just 2-3 line that would sooth his life a little. There are some things which I think would be fair enough to pour out today from this,” saying this I started to narrate Kabir the things I knew.
“He grew up pursuing his goals in a local government school just like any other boy of a local restaurant waiter would afford to,” I said.
I was a bit worried and more hesitated to tell Kabir everything about Vikram because Vikram hated if someone foretell or judged him, and while I recount, Kabir would be the person to judge.
Are you a fortuneteller? once Vikram angrily shouted on me saying this, when I judged him on Riya.
“While in school, Vikram joined the scout troop of the school, I guess that was the time when patriotism within him grew, he loved the uniform, drill, hard black leather shoes that made the sound tak-tak while he walked. Attending camps, holding a gun and firing rounds of bullet and getting praised by the commanding officer for his hit, were the things that he loved and his level of excitement while telling those stories to mother and father was just incredible.”
“After he completed his board exams with good marks, he asked father to let him join a military school as for further education, he was an ambitious guy, he aimed to become an ace pilot and he did succeed in it,” Even I got excited while telling Kabir about Vikram.
“After he graduated, he was posted to Dehradun Five years back for his initial training process, he was happy that he succeeded what he aimed for. One day when he returned home on a two day leave, he told me about a girl whom he met there, Actually he tried to confide that memory of a girl and a part of himself in me, I don’t know whether it was going right or moving wrong but being a brother I listened.”
“He told me how on a regular day when he was returning to his room after the training session ended he saw a girl wearing white sweater bargaining or you can say fighting with the local vendor over prices of vegetables and as Vikram said, she looked adorable doing that, he tried to talk to her and greeted with the evening word, but the girl gave him a hard glare and walked away. Vikram somewhat stalked that girl for days and later he had his level of courage and went to her,”
“Their first meeting that Vikram wrote in his diary which I secretly took a peek, I knew it wasn’t correct thing to do but I saw my brother’s life expanding and no objection to that, but only thing I could comment on was the way he introduced himself to the girl. I mean, it should have been much more smoother.”
Tina and Kabir got a smile as I made that comment.
“Hey” he said.
“I got to go, I’ve been seeing you since many days, please stop following me!” she said.
“No, I am not, just wanted to talk, mind if I ask you for a coffee?”
“No we can’t, Sorry,”
“Because I don’t know you,” she almost shouted.
“You don’t know me but I know me.”
“Will think of it, bye.”
“You guys forgot the tea.” Tina interrupted.
“Then what happened sir?” Kabir asked taking his sip of tea.
“Vikram was tough and proved the same, but more the luck that helped him,” I said.
“Luck? How?” Kabir asked.
“On a fine night Vikram and his pals planned to have dinner in a local restaurant and to his luck, the same white sweater girl was sitting on the third table, Vikram walked to her and saw a change in her expressions that said “GO AWAY”, Vikram was six feet away when he noticed that she was sitting with her parents, Soceraphobia – Yes, it is the correct and another word that defined Flt Lt. Vikram Bakshi.” I added.
“He turned his way away from her and hid behind a cover, he took a glimpse to see and saw that the girl was walking to him, she came to him and said that she’ll be waiting tomorrow the same place they met before at 05:00 in the evening. Vikram was mad at this point and waited for the day to come.”
Kabir was listening patiently with a little smile, everyone loves to listen when talked about the happening love. I continued.
“Vikram was excited and more of a nervous ass now, she came and both gave a formal evening greet,”
“My name is Riya and I guess you forgot to do the first ritual of asking name.”
“Yeah, I am sorry.”
“Oh Mr. Sorry, hello and nice name.”
“No, My name is Vikram. Vikram Bakshi,” Both of them laughed.
“Okay, nice name, what you do here Vikram?”
“I am an Indian Airforce Pilot, so came here for small training thing.”
“Wow, IAF, nice.”
“Mind if I ask you for a coffee now?”
“Dates, Movies etc, became an everyday thing, Love took its place in their lives. They wanted the rest of their life to be together and grow old together, they involved their parents in it and got married a year after they met. They were blessed with a baby boy a year after their marriage. Things were lot more solved and cheerful for us, Kunal was the happiness and Vikram was the support.” saying this I continued narrating Kabir the worst part.
“It was some days before Kunal’s second birthday when we got the news that Vikram’s Jet got crashed and he is no more. Nobody knew what to say, all I wanted was an explanation on this, an ace pilot cannot die like this.”
My voice choked as I said those line, taking a sip of water I continued.
“Next day of his death when I saw Riya, I was trying to understand her condition, I guess, It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, Soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner he sat every morning sipping on his coffee, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old hibiscus and half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever. Riya was the leading star of Vikram’s story, it’s just that he left his own story all alone to her.”
“She was a chirpy girl before, but now only silence speaks within her, sometime we sit and chit-chat like a normal family but still somehow a memory of my brother smashes in our talks and then she’s lost again with a dropped face and wet eyes. Kunal is too young to understand this, he can barely speak, but when Kunal tries to say Pa-Pa with his stammering baby voice, it brings tear to everyone. Death doesn’t deal with the innocence.”
As I said this, we heard a knock on the door, Tina got up and opened the door and saw Riya with a bag on the left shoulder and Kunal standing holding her right hand,
“What happened dear? Delhi?” Tina asked.
“Train got cancelled, anyways we’ll go some other day,” Riya said keeping her bag on the table, “We have a guest?” she asked. Little Kunal followed her with small footsteps.
“Yes,” Tina said and lowered her eyes. I understood Tina’s feelings, so I went to Riya and told her everything, It got her traumatized a bit as it was about Vikram. Her voice again fell down the normal tone.
She saw Kabir, walked to him and said,
“Hello, So you are from channel 24?”
Kabir was stuck between thoughts and reality, the girl whose condition he was listening to, was just standing in front of him. Her love, her pain all of it was there in front of him.
“Yes, my name is Kabir,” Kabir said, stammering a bit.
“I hope you make a good use of words for my husband. Vikram is not dead, for us, he is on a sleep where he is dreaming of waking up, I wish his dreams come true.” Riya said as her voice lowered more finally broke into tears, trying to control herself she took Kunal and walked out of the room to hers.
Vikram Bakshi was really blessed to have a person who loved him even after he was gone, every condition every emotion she stood by him and I was blessed because I have a brother whose name is Flt Lt. Vikram Bakshi.