(This story was originally published on 9 September 2016. It has been reposted from The Quint's archives for Captain Vikram Batra's birth anniversary.)
For India, Captain Vikram Batra had an unflinching love. But there’s another side to the braveheart, who sacrificed his life during the Kargil war to defend the nation and his fellow soldiers.
Meet his then girlfriend – Dimple Cheema.
Dimple spoke to The Quint about the first time she met Vikram. When they were introduced at Punjab University in 1995, little did Dimple know that it was just the beginning of a beautiful story that would stay with her forever.
Dimple fondly remembers the initial months she spent with Vikram in Chandigarh. He eventually left college and moved on to bigger things after his selection to the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun in 1996.
“The Punjab university chapter was just destiny playing its part in bringing us together,” says Dimple.
Their love, however, stayed strong even after Vikram moved to Dehradun. The soon-to-become Captain would come visit her in Chandigarh between his postings.
The love between the two blossomed for four years. They had plans of getting married when Vikram returned from Kargil, but as it turned out, he never did.
But Vikram’s death wasn’t the end of their love story. Dimple after the news decided to return to Chandigarh and live with what she calls 'memories worth a lifetime'.
Here is the full transcript of Dimple’s interview with The Quint.
I met Vikram for the first time in 1995 in Punjab University in Chandigarh, when we both had joined MA English. But as fate would have it, neither of us completed it. I guess it was destiny playing its part in bringing us together and becoming an integral part of each other.
I can still vividly remember the air of excitement in his voice when he called up to tell me that he had been selected in the IMA. That news had, in fact, put a seal in our relationship. But at times, later, because we used to be apart a lot, whenever I used to get pressurised about getting married, he always used to tell me: 'take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get'. I still try to follow that.
It was a ritual with us to visit the Mansa Devi temple and Gurudrwara Sri Nada Sahab, and on one such visit to the temple, while doing a 'parikrama', he was walking behind me.
On completing the ‘parikrama’, he suddenly said, “Congratulations, Mrs Batra”. I swirled around to see him holding one end of my dupatta and he gave me the most beautiful smile and said, “Didn’t you realise that this is the fourth time that we doing this ‘parikrama’?” Needless to say, it left me totally speechless. That was the level of dedication he had towards our relationship.
He was a man on the go, very restless. He had to do something at all times, couldn’t sit still even for a moment. While waiting for an order at restaurant, he would start tapping the bike keys on the tables. On being stopped from doing that, he would start tapping his fingers on the table. Again on being stopped, he would start tapping his feet. Finally on being given a stern look, he would start drinking water, and drink as if he had been thirsty for ages. So now when I recall all this, I can feel what he must have been going through during the Kargil War, what his state of mind must have been. He must have been feeling restless inside, raring to go.
On one of his visits, I raised the issue of marriage as I was feeling a bit insecure. Without saying anything, he took a blade out of his wallet, cut his thumb and filled my ‘maang’ with his blood. That is the most cherished moment of my life till date. Then later on, I used to tease him that he is “pura filmy.”
How do I describe a lifetime of memories, though made only in four years of association? I could go on and on and the memories would still keep coming. Not a single day in the past 17 years, have I felt detached from you. It feels as if you are away on a posting. I feel so proud when people talk about your accomplishments. But along with that there is some regret in the corner of my heart. You should have been here, sharing, listening to the stories of your brave deeds, of how you are inspiration to the youth of today. I know in my heart that we are going to meet again, it’s just a matter of time.
This is the second part of a three-part series. Watch out for The Quint’s interviews with Captain Batra’s colleague Captain Naveen Nagappa and his twin brother Vishal Batra.
Video Production: Anubhav Mishra
Video Editing: Purnendu Pritam