Friday, April 26, 2013

Life has come a Full Circle



This is a continuation to Space in the Heart.

Aakanksha stepped out of the Indira Gandhi International Airport to be harshly welcomed by the Sweltering heat of New Delhi. The car was there to pick her up to take her straight to Shimla. She loved the long drives, especially the winding roads from Kalka to Shimla. Aakanksha was 23 and had been coming to Shimla to visit her Grand Mother every two years. Her Grand Father had died when she was 13 in a car accident.

She was giggling away, as this was a surprise visit.


The cool breeze on her face awoke her from her slumber and Aakanksha realised that she was already in the hills. She took a deep breath - the smell in the air of Pine Cones and mountains turned all her senses on - she was fully alive. As always, she stopped at Timber Trail and took the Cable car to the top. There were three of them in the cable car - Siddharth a handsome guy somewhere in his late twenties and Katarina, a Russian tourist. It was love at first sight for Siddharth - there was something about Aakanksha; he was totally smitten.


Just near the top the cable broke and cable car was dangling - the emergency brakes had engaged. Katarina started screaming at the top of her lungs. Siddharth immediately took control and calmed Katarina down. Aakanksha was composed and was handling the situation well. Siddharth took out his mobile and called emergency services. Within 30 minutes a rescue chopper was there - but as soon as it came over the cable car, the downward draft from its blades caused the cable car to shake violently. In the ensuing commotion, Katarina lost her grip and fell across to the door, which broke with the impact. Siddharth and Aakanksha tried their best to hold on to Katarina - but it all happened so quickly that they were a bit too late to react and Katarina fell out.


The rescue was called off and they were informed that due to bad weather the rescue would only commence the next morning.


They spent the next few hours talking. Siddharth was a Captain in the Indian Army and was on his annual vacation. His father, Aniket, was  a leading Cardiac Surgeon in Mumbai. When Siddharth was 12 years old, his mother, Neha as the CEO of Ogilvy was attending a function in Taj when it was taken over by terrorists. They saw her body at the morgue 2 days later. Since that day he had wanted to join the Army to protect his nation.


Aakanksha was from New York and was born while her mother was pursuing her PhD in Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania. Her father, afraid to take responsibility of a child had abandoned both her and her mother. As a single mother it was not easy for Kavya to raise Aakanksha - but she ensured the best upbringing for Aakanksha. Aakanksha was also pursuing her PhD in Psychology, just like her mother had done.


A wire snapped and then another - Siddharth looked out and saw that the steel wire which the car was holding on to was giving way. They were near a tower - it wan't simple but it had to be done. All his training and adrenaline kicked in. He immediately opened his bag and took out his clothes. Then he made a makeshift rope out of his trousers, shirts and belts. He tied one end to his waist and the other to the cable car's window grill and jumped. In his mind he saw himself missing it - but his fingers found the tower and he held on. He braced himself in a secure position, tied the rope to the tower and asked Aakanksha to hold the rope and cross over. She was afraid - but he was unrelenting. Another wire snapped - she held the rope tight and hung on to it and started moving towards the tower. Her hands were numb but she kept moving and moving till she reached. Once on the tower, her legs were trembling - she held on to Siddharth, he held on to her. She had never expected this - but his warmth, the way he was holding on to her, she knew she was home.


In two hours they managed to climb the tower and find shelter in a cave as it had started raining heavily. They were so exhausted, tired and cold that they fell off to sleep in minutes finding the warmth and comfort in each other.


Early in the morning they heard a chopper approaching and came out of the cave, from where they were taken to the Hospital in Chandigarh for treatment of minor bruises and cuts. Katarina was found too. She had a serious concussion and her left leg had fractured. By a miracle and god's grace she had survived - the door broke her fall and worked as a barrier taking most of the brunt.


Seeing the live coverage of the rescue, Vibhuti was shocked to see Aakanksha. She said a silent prayer and then drove to Chandigarh.


Vibhuti invited Siddharth back to Shimla with her and Aakanksha. She didn't miss the twinkle in Aakanksha's eyes.


Today, two years after the accident at Timber Trail, Siddharth and Aakanksha are tying the knot.


Life in it's own weird way has come full circle.

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