This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
Divyah is eager to talk to the Jawans and understand about their lives. She discusses the Kargil war with them, trying to accumulate any new information she can get on Operation Vijay in July 1999. She had lost her uncle in the war – he was 24 years old then and unmarried. He was a part of 18 Grenadiers. Various stories of bravery filled her heart with pride as she tried to fill an abyss in vain. She now realises how difficult the fight must have been – given the high altitude terrain and cold weather.
The gang, Ruhi and Divyah advance ahead, saluting the Army men for serving the Nation against all odds – away from their families and worldly comforts. Although hesitant at first, she lets the feelings get to her and hot tears flood her sun-scorched cheek and drip down her chin as she tries to picture her uncle in his uniform fighting for India. This is the first time Divyah had surrendered herself to her emotions, and as she did so, she felt like a huge load was off her chest and she could breathe freely. She had received closure.
They were twenty minutes away from the camp-site; separated by a huge river gushing through the green meadows. Its calm and burbling sound echoed in the valley – a constant reminder of persistence and dedication; never losing hope and always finding a way out. Madhu remembers what his first boss always told him, ‘Be like water, it can take any shape or form.’
His thoughts get interrupted when Niket splashes some water on his face – cold droplets hit him hard, sending a chill down his spine! Madhu joins the party and takes his revenge; Ruhi is saved as she is walking slowly behind them with Arpit and Swami. Vivian joins them in the fun, bringing Abhinav along.
As they walk further on the banks of the river, they come across a wooden log to cross it. It is a huge trunk of a pine tree; strong and long. Army men have cut and placed it there in order to help trekkers cross the river without getting wet. It is huge enough to allow two people to cross together. Vivian helps everyone cross the log turn-by-turn and provides further navigation towards the campsite.
Arpit is beside Ruhi, walking along with her and supporting her whenever she needs any help. His concern and care warmed Ruhi. She had slowly started loving him. The snow clad mountains around them stand as mute spectators watching Ruhi’s hard-to-conceal feelings for Arpit.
Madhu and Abhinav race towards the campsite, testing their capability. Niket decides to join them instantly and starts running behind – he feels like he is flying. As they run towards the campsite, sweat shines on their forehead with a smell of accomplishment.
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