The bus stand was crowded when I reached there. I paused, with the sudden realisation that it had already begun like a cliché. Terrible, terrible thing. Bus stands are supposed to be crowded. That’s why they build them.
Any how I buy a ticket and get in. The passenger sitting next to me is not a Kashmiri.
I am not supposed to be telling stories, why is it going like one?
I didn’t begin a conversation with him. On this bus, on which I have made a hundred trips, I have never actually spoken to a stranger. Its the most natural thing. I have fallen asleep and dreamt of being lost, but never actually spoken to a stranger. And, then putting it all aside, I opened a book to read. But the book was a distraction. The person next to me look sideways at the book I was reading and looked away .
(“Snob”, I heard his thoughts go. “Who reads Orhan Pamuk in a bus?”)
He called his wife to tell that he would call again when he reached.
I put the book back in my bag. It was hard to follow things in Turkey when Kashmir was what was written all over. Somebody had died in Kashmir. How can you see an old death in a new light? Awful things were happening. Turkey was still far away. It could wait.
Snow, the usual beloved, had broken its truce. This March it appeared like a guest we were not expecting at all. Pleasantly surprised to welcome the visitor, we put our Spring on the side. But Snow was not pleased. It was, may I say like some storytellers do, a little angry at us. It came down in clumps and not very kindly. It broke a wall, a roof and a tree’s tall reach. But we still loved the guest. A force of habit, we are Kashmiris. we must love you, to let you in our house. Those who enter by force are not loved. But, Snow scorned at us and caused much pain. Like a beloved. We could only smile and carry on. Like delirious lovers.
Back on the bus, the sunlight had just started to stream in through the clouds. It made visible patterns as it struck the window panes and hit my face. It was the only good thing at the moment. But it was brief. The bus rolled on with a sudden jerk and we left sunshine far behind.
In the cover of this snow, the winter seeks a quiet extension. It has stretched its withered hand as if to say, “hold me while I am still here.” The snow, a bit shy in March, shines from the trees in the stolen sunlight of a dim afternoon. On the bus, many miles away, it whispers in my ear, “If I die tonight, will you have spring in the morning?”.