Major Dalbir was dressed in combat uniform with the beret tilted on the left and Rayban classic sunglasses. He looked crisp. Gypsy was waiting outside with a uniformed driver waiting besides the door. Dalbir was ready to leave. His father, mother and little sister were standing in a perfect semi-circle under the porch. Tanvi was standing right behind leaning on the side panel of the huge and intricately designed wooden door.
Retd. General Dalbir, his father, asked him to convey his hello to unit CO (Commanding Officer – Dalbir’s boss), hugged him tight and said;”Take good care of yourself, son. Make me proud”. Dalbir’s mom looked upset and was cribbing to her husband that he should have spoken to Dalbir’s CO and requested him to let Dalbir stay to which Retd. General Dalbir, sternly said; “That would have been inappropriate. Dalbir is a responsible officer and he should be with his troops when they need him the most”. After all, it is tough being a soldier’s mom. A soldier’s leave can get cancelled anytime and a cancelled leave is a sign of emergency situation. Dalbir’s mom hugged him repeatedly, and with moist eyes, kissed his forehead and finally bid him good bye.
Playfully messing with little sister’s hair, Dalbir stood in front of Tanvi, gave her a hug and said, “Take care and fly high”. Tanvi stood like a statue. Emotions were welling up inside her like a storm but she couldn’t let them out. When you forcefully try to control your emotions, you tend to become cold.
Dalbir walked upto his gypsy. Driver gave him a crisp salute and opened the door. Dalbir turned around, his eyes locked with Tanvi’s, for the last time. Tanvi felt choked. Was she doing something gravely wrong by not reciprocating Dalbir’s feeling? If she was not in love then why all these emotions?
Dalbir sat in the gypsy, the door closed with a loud thud, and it drove away. All of them were standing there for as long as they could see the vehicle, and then Dalbir’s mom simply broke down. It was heart wrenching to see Dalbir’s mom whom Tanvi knew as a fun-loving and strong lady, brimming with energy; crumble down like a pack of cards. Dalbir’s house was exceptionally quiet today.
Chandigarh lost its meaning for Tanvi after Dalbir left. It was time to leave the Chandigarh – the city fantastic, and move on to the next destination now. Her red Tata Zica car was waiting for her, waiting to explore another place, explore another emotion, and explore another connection. That’s the beauty of travel – you can easily move on!
Chandigarh and Major Dalbir will be etched in Tanvi’s memory for ever.
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Read the next post here-Chapter 19 –