"Fifteen new suits, twenty-five new sarees, 30 sets of jewellery and a basket full of dry fruits — and this is just the beginning. Rest assured, behen ji, your daughter will enjoy unimaginable riches in our household," gloated her would-be Mother-in-law.
Sanjana would've scoffed behind her veil, had she been listening to the conversation. At the moment, though, she had no time for this buffoonery.
A landslide had been reported at Cholaghat near Deolali, and a certain someone's wallet had been found there.
She couldn't hear the drums beating relentlessly around her. No, her heart beat even louder. She failed to acknowledge the agitated calls for her own name — the name that mattered flashed before her eyes, enlisted in the list of those feared dead. No, that couldn't be.
"Mar jaata to miss karti mujhe!"
"Kuchh hone hi na dete tumhein."
She had failed, yet again. She had failed to fight for him, failed to wipe his tears, failed to protect him. She couldn't let him die, though. She wouldn't let him die.
And so, within a fraction of a second, with the agility of a trained commando, Special Agent Sanjana Dubey rose back from her ashes.
"My duty calls for me, Bapu; My life calls for me. I will ensure your respect remains untarnished, but for that, I need to stay alive. I need my own respect to stay alive. I need my duty to stay unblemished. Forgive me, just this once, Bapu. I can lay down my life, but I can't step over my duty to marry Kundan ji. Sorry, keh raho hain, aap sab ko. Hum yeh shaadi na kar sakto."
Rocks, cars, trees, medics — Cholaghat looked nothing short of a complete distress site. Most victims had been rescued by now. Some, though, were still missing. And Siddharth Ganju was one of them.
"Keh do na.. that you love me!"
Ek baar sahi salaamat mil jaao Siddharth. Sab kuchh bata denge tumhein.
"Bhaad me jaao. I'll remember this. That you Don't. Love. Me."
Us din sab sun kar bhi kuchh na keh paao they, aaj har bedi tod kar tumse sach kehne ko tayyar hain. Aur tum ho ki alag hi zidd pakde ghum rahe ho!
As she combed the site in search of any signs for life, Sanju decided that fire and fear was the toughest combination her heart had ever dealed with. The area reeked of harm, and yet, somehow, she knew that she'd find him soon, ready with his gun-shaped fingers and his unmatchable wit, for he'd promised to be there for her, always, and her Chirkut never broke his promises.
A hint of noise broke the special agent's reverie. There were lives, waiting to be saved. Sanjana Dubey treaded along in the direction of the sound, only to halt as soon as the voices became clear.
"Promise bro? Aap mere Papa ko dhundhne mein mera saath doge?"
"SidG promise Chhutku bro! Your father, our mission!"
Her feet picked speed even before her brain could register anything. And sure enough, there he was — her Chirkut, being the typical amateur Messiah — tending to a five year old's injuries, treating him to the warmth of friendship amidst a ruthlessly cold situation.
Was it relief that flooded through her? Or was it her heart, finally at peace as it finally met its soul? She couldn't care less. It was her voice, broken at best, that took the forefront.
"Aur hamaao saath, Sidhharth? Humaara saath nahi doge? Zindagi bhar ke liye?"
Explanations, confessions, cajoling could all wait. Two souls had just found their way back home.
----- THE END -----
A/N: Any reviews and all critics are most welcome here!
Also, thank you for reading!!
Converted into a Two-Shot now!
Part 2: Page 4