Bhanu closed the letter, he wasn't surprised as he had already met Corba few days ago when he went to save the tourists.
"Sir, what are you thinking?", RDX asked while driving the jeep.
"Nothing, I was just reading this letter.", Bhanu replied.
"Your girlfriend sir?", RDX questioned again.
"No, my grandfather gave it to me. He wrote about his experiences in the jungle, so that i can learn a little bit from it.", Bhanu said with a smile.
"Your grandfather, oh Ram Avtar Sir. You know, he too had asked me to drop him to the jungle in this jeep. He was a very brave man. I heard that he expired the day before you joined, I was very upset when i came to know about it. In fact, all of us were upset, as we all respected him a lot. You know sir, even you're as brave as him.", RDX said.
"Thank you Ravi, but I am nothing in front of my grandfather. He was my inspiration and only because him I am in Corbett Park today. To fulfill his dream of saving the wildlife from the poachers.", Bhanu replied.
"For sure sir, for sure you'll be successful."
"Tak taka tak kamla...", RDX started singing a Kumaoni song to lighten up the mood.
"Hello Bhanu Pratap.", Bhanu got a message on his walkie-talkie.
"What is your position?", the voice on the other side asked.
"I have just crossed Garjiya.", replied Bhanu.
"Bhanu this is Mukesh Ahlawat, and there have been some illegal activities going around here. I guess someone from our staff is also there. I am giving you the location, note it down and reach as soon as possible.", the voice said.
Bhanu took out his pad, noted down the location, and asked RDX to increase the speed of the jeep. They were just 25 minutes away from the location.
"Sir, if you want even I can help you. An officer left his gun in the jeep today. I can use it.", RDX said.
"Are you sure?", Bhanu asked.
"Yes sir.", RDX replied.
Bhanu and RDX reached the location in 15 minutes, as RDX's knowledge about the shortcuts around the region helped them in cutting short the journey time.
"Are you sure this is the place?", Bhanu asked after getting down the jeep.
"Yes sir, i have taken the correct shortcut. I made sure to stop the jeep a little bit away from the location.", RDX said.
Both of them picked up their rifles and started walking towards the location. It was afternoon time and there was ample sunlight, they had no problem in walking through the dense forest.
"Wait, i think someone is there.", Bhanu stopped RDX and both of them hid behind a bush. Bhanu waited to see if there's any more movement in the bush before proceeding.
"Stay here RDX, I’ll go have a look. Wait for my signal.", Bhanu told RDX.
Bhanu proceeded towards the bush while making sure his boots made no noise.
"Mukesh, is that you.", Bhanu asked.
"Bhanu I have been hit.", Mukesh replied in a feeble voice.
Bhanu immediately rushed towards Mukesh and also signaled RDX. Mukesh was bleeding as he had been hit on his shoulders. Bhanu asked RDX to rush back to the jeep and get the first aid box. RDX complied.
"Bhanu i'll bandage myself, don't worry about me and listen to what i am saying. While patrolling through the forest today I encountered a group of poachers along with 2 two dead tigers. I also spotted a forest ranger among them.", Mukesh said.
"Who was it?", Bhanu was surprised.
"I didn't see his face but i recognized him with his dress. And the gun he was carrying, i have seen that gun somewhere in the office. I don't remember who owns it.", Mukesh replied.
"Tell me, will RDX be able to help us?", Mukesh asked.
"Yes, he will. He found a gun lying in his jeep and by chance i have been carrying few extra bullets with me today.", Bhanu said while trying to tie a bandage around Mukesh Ahlawat's shoulder.
"Bhanu we don't have enough time, they have spotted me and i think they are searching for me. This is a blind spot where we are hiding, they won't be able locate us here. But we have to search for them, we have to find out who is the forest ranger amongst them.", Mukesh said while eating a painkiller.
"Whenever you're ready, we'll proceed.", Bhanu said and told RDX to brace himself for the encounter.
Bhanu, RDX and Mukesh got up, slowly they proceeded towards the denser part of the jungle where they assumed that poachers were hiding. During all this while, Bhanu dropped his red handkerchief near a tree.
"Stop, there they are.", Mukesh said while pointing towards a spot surrounded by bushes. They spotted seven men standing there, they were talking amongst themselves, maybe were making some plan. One of them looked very angry, he was the one wearing forest ranger's uniform.
"Take cover. We'll have to surprise them with our attack.", Bhanu said while taking cover behind a tree and asking Mukesh & RDX to do the same.
"On 3, start firing.", Mukesh said.
"1----2-----3", Mukesh gestured through his fingers and they fired.
The poachers were taken by surprise and they made one of the poachers their successful target. Bhanu hit one of the poachers in the eye, RDX's bullet hit the forest ranger in the leg but he leapt towards a bush immediately. Mukesh too hit a poacher in the shoulder but he too was able to take cover like the remaining poachers. They shot dead one but 6 were still left.
Poachers also started firing towards them, and due to the large tree behind which Bhanu and co. were hiding none of them was hit.
Bhanu and Mukesh returned fire, RDX was making sure that he supplied bullets to both of them whenever they needed.
"Ahh...", suddenly a bullet hit Bhanu in the thigh.
"Bhanu are you alright.", Mukesh and RDX asked in unison. “Yes i am fine, do not lose your cover or we'll be dead.”
Bhanu regained his stance and returned fire. It was getting tougher for three of them to fight against the poachers, they had the semi-automatic rifles against the automatic rifles of the Poachers. Moreover, they were three against six of them.
"Bhanu, your granddad had always created problem for us. However, this time, i won't let you trouble us. In fact, you won't be able to trouble us anymore. It won't be long before one of our bullets will end your and your friends' lives.", someone shouted from the poacher's side.
"I know this voice.", Bhanu thought.
"Rajesh Rawat, he's the chief forest ranger Rajesh Rawat.", Mukesh said in disbelief.
"We know it's you Rajesh Rawat.", RDX shouted in a voice full of his newfound bravery.
"Ohh, RDX even you're there. I doubt if a forest guide will be able to operate a weapon.", Rajesh Rawat's said in a sarcastic tone.
"Ask the bullet lodged in your leg Rawat.", RDX replied.
Suddenly, a bullet came and pierced RDX's shoulder.
"How about that RDX?", Rajesh said and the poachers again opened firing.
Mukesh pulled RDX towards him in time before the barrage of bullets pierced the other parts of his body.
"Are you alright RDX?", Bhanu asked.
"I am fine Sahib, the bullet just hit my shoulder not my heart. There is still a lot of life left in me. I'll show them what a real pahaadi is like.", RDX said and picked up his rifle.
"Bhanu i don't think we'll be able to defend against them for a longer period of time. There are very few bullets left.", Mukesh spoke.
"I don't care about the bullets sir, but i promised my grandfather that i'll fight for this forest till my last breath.", there was an anger in Bhanu's voice.
"But how are we 3 going to defend against 6 of them?", Mukesh asked.
"We are not 3 anymore.", Bhanu replied.
"What?", Mukesh was confused.
There was a smile on Bhanu's face.
"Look behind you."
"Bhanu, Bhanu wake up. It's 8 AM"
"What is this granddad? I was watching a wonderful dream and you woke me up.", Bhanu said in an upset voice.
His grandfather laughed and asked him to get ready for their morning jog.
"So, Bhanu what were you watching?", grandfather asked.
"I saw i am fighting poachers just like you.", Bhanu replied.
"Oh, and so did you defeat them.", he asked.
"No, you woke me up before that.", Bhanu answered and they both started laughing.
"Bhanu, tomorrow your parents are coming from Delhi. Then you'll be going back, therefore i won't be able to celebrate your birthday with you. Do you want anything as a gift from me?", grandfather asked.
"Just give me your blessing that I'll also become a brave man like you. I want to fight against crime and kill all the bad people.", Bhanu replied.
"That's a very nice thing to say for a 12 yrs old boy. I am happy to know about your wishes, but guess what? I have brought a binocular for you. I think you wanted them."
"Thank you Dadaji.” and Bhanu hugged him.
"Dadaji, do visit us soon?", Bhanu said while leaving.
"I will son, very soon. Now, rush as your parents are waiting near the car or you'll be late.", grandfather said.
He hugged him and ran away towards the car. He waved at him until the car did not get out of the colony.
"Good Morning Ram Avtar Sir.", just then the news paper guy came on his cycle and wished Ram Avtar.
"Good morning son.", Ram Avtar replied while taking the newspaper from him.
He opened the newspaper, and like every morning, he checked the main headline.
"Chief Forest Ranger has been arrested for helping the poachers enter Corbett National Park."
1 week ago