She Was Forced To Stay Away From Him This Time, She Didn't Know It Was Also The Last

Neha Dwivedi Neha Dwivedi in Stolen Diaries on 17 May, 2017

(PART 1: SURBHI DIDN'T KNOW SHE COULD FALL FOR AN ARMY OFFICER UNTIL SHE MET DHRUV: HE CHANGED HER LIFE)

He was posted in Kupwara, which is a sensitive place, which meant anything could happen tomorrow. So, they waited, even though she didn't want to, till he finished his tenure and got back to Jaisalmer and the two lovebirds finally tied the knot.

So, the fairy tale that it was, began sometime in the summer of 2012, 6-7 months after the wedding. She arrived at Jaisalmer, railway station, all ready to really begin their life together.
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She was welcomed at the station in true army style, with everyone from the officers to the wives to the kids in attendance. In the first glance, she saw everyone but Dhruv. They told her that she wasn’t allowed to meet him, while her eyes had already spotted the ever smiling face that they were longing to see, standing behind a pillar, expression intact.

Then began the journey home… and that included going on the dhai ton, to dancing on it, to going on one bicycle, to exchanging garlands, to being carried by Dhruv, to an officer posing as the orderly, to drinking salt water… basically all that one could think of. The ordeal ended with people leaving after hiding the mattresses that they were to sleep on and Dhruv and Surbhi having their first afternoon nap in their first new home, on rock hard wooden planks of the MES beds of their bedrooms. 

He left the very next day for an exercise, but she was fine. She enjoyed doing their house up, lovingly, bit by bit, for them. He had already made sure to keep a garden ready for her, before she joined him.

Surbhi loved these little gestures. Even when they celebrated their first anniversary, cutting cake and taking pictures while sitting on top of their boxes, packed to be moved, she enjoyed every bit of it.

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For she had the one and only thing she required to be happy- her Dhruv. They moved to Dehradun soon after. Their second station together.

Surbhi was always very adamant about one thing, that she wanted to stay with him. So, she made it happen, every time. Even when the rules didn’t allow, or there were other restrictions. She always managed to be by his side. 

Life went on… with them spending every minute that they could steal together. Where others liked celebrating occasions with big celebrations, they would celebrate with each other, tucked away in their favourite cafes or beds for that matter. Where others would go out to exotic locations for holidays, they would go to quaint little places and spend days, just enjoying each other’s company.

They had their share of ups and downs as well. The biggest being the loss of their first baby, when they had to go through the trauma of losing it before it was born.

But, through it all, they both had each other’s backs and just like every time, Dhruv would hold her hand and tell her, “till the time we are together, nothing else should matter, as we can handle everything”. Indeed that was the one thing that carried her through everything, smoothly.
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So, before they knew it, God blessed them again, and Surbhi was pregnant. By this time they had moved back to Jaisalmer. They were elated!

However, this time, they did not want to take any chances. Jaisalmer lacked the medical facilities that they needed. So, this time, she had to agree to move away, for the sake of their baby and she sat on the day she was to leave, with her head on his chest, sobbing, for her heart felt heavy. She didn’t want to be away from him for so long. He held her hand one more time and told her again, “till the time we are together, nothing else should matter, as we can handle everything”. 

So, she left, already counting the days that were left, to be back to her home, her Dhruv.

However, as weeks passed by, she started growing restless and for some reason, this time, her ever calm and collected husband felt the same. So they tried making plans. She tried making it to Mhow, while he was there and he tried calling her to Jaipur while he was on his way to Jaisalmer, this time for an exercise but for some reason or the other, their plans did not work out.

By the time it was September (2015), they hadn’t met for almost four months. She was in her final trimester by now and having spent most of her pregnancy by herself, both Surbhi and Dhruv couldn't wait to be with each other once again and welcome their bundle of joy together. 

On the evening of 22nd of September, Surbhi was going about her day when she received a picture from Dhruv. He had an exercise that evening and had just gotten into the cupola of his tank and made someone take a picture of him. He then made a heart around his face and sent it to her. One look at it and she broke into a smile.

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Little did Surbhi know that it was the last message that she was ever going to receive from him, because something terrible happened in a very short time after that. He was in the middle of the exercise, standing tall in his tank when a stray shrapnel came and hit his neck and before anyone could realise it, he was gone.

However, she knew nothing of it till the night when she received a message from one of his classmates asking her if he was okay. She didn't know what the rest of the world got to know of hours back, thanks to this age of social media.

She found out the way she did but even then, when her mother-in-law reached her place and walked inside her room to hug her, she kept going back saying, “Please no!”. What she didn’t say but felt, was, “where will I be without Dhruv?”.

The thing about being an Army officer is that, you may have several roles and responsibilities in life, but when it matters, it is about ‘naam namak nishaan!’. Hence, even though Surbhi couldn’t travel in her condition (doctor’s orders and much against her wishes), her and the family’s decision was to cremate Maj. Dhruv Yadav at his regiment location in the presence of his men.

He deserved a send off befitting a brave tank man which he rightfully got, and under no circumstances would they have had it any other way. Surbhi displayed what can rightfully be called exceptional strength and dignity in the days following his departure. 

At the prayer meeting, Surbhi was sure she wanted to address all those who had come for him, but wasn’t sure of what to say. Her friend Taarika (name changed) helped her out then by giving her a poem which the minute she read, she felt connected to. So, she was all set with it but just before she went up, she asked one of Dhruv’s colleagues and friend, Lt. Col. Suresh (name changed), if it would be appropriate for her to say Jai Hind in the end.

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He said, “Ma’am when you finish, you say “sahasm-vijayate”. This was Dhruv’s regiment’s war cry and so she went up, recited the poem, with grace, without breaking down even slightly and finished it off with a loud, strong and confident “sahasm”, which the many officers sitting in the audience completed with “vijayate!” three times, no less.

One could hear many people sobbing in the crowd, but not her! She instead stood strong at the exit and met and thanked everyone for taking the time out to bid farewell to Dhruv.

Their bundle of joy arrived in the world just four days before their fourth anniversary in the month of November. The family welcomed junior Dhruv and Surbhi named her Prince somewhat after his brave father. Rehaan, which also means star, just like ‘Dhruv’.

This time Surbhi went to Jaisalmer with a two and a half month Rehaan to pack her house up and while there, insisted on seeing Dhruv’s tank. For most people it would be too tough to do that but she wanted to see where her Dhruv stood last. She spoke to people from his crew and asked them everything that she could. 

When all else was done, and the house was packed, she did something that she had always done when he used to be away. She sat alone in the house, and wrote him a letter, where she reminisced about the times they spent in the house. About how careful he used to be of the creak in the door, so as not to wake her up or how he dug into her bag to look for goodies for himself when she came back from a trip to the market. She finished with a promise.

She wrote, "I will raise Rehaan with all our love, patience… and give him the love of sports, your spirit and enthusiasm. Please keep guiding me”. A year after, when they were in the middle of a havan that had been organised for Dhruv’s soul, Rehaan gave her the best gift by coming in and recognising his father, from his picture, all by himself.

One would think, where did this young girl, this over attached wife, got the strength of holding her own, in the face of such extreme adversity. Surbhi says, the whole time that people were coming, things were happening, she kept talking to Dhruv in her heart and kept asking him.

“Dhruv, I am proud of you, everyone is proud of you- are you proud of me?”. Well, that answers it!

(TO EVERYONE WHO READ MY STORY: THIS IS HOW I LEARNT HOW TO LIVE WITHOUT DHRUV)