At the end of the trip was Srinagar.
At the beginning of it was Srinagar, too. Like return of Spring in March. A bit unsure, but very much there.
The stranger looked back at the aeroplane that had brought him here. How unromantic is air travel! What story of love if it doesn’t travel over rocky mountains and dangerous cliffs. What love if it is not hurled over a precipice!
The stranger passed through the waiting queue of people at the baggage carousel. People were already piling their trolleys when he reached and waited patiently for his suitcase. There are only two baggage claim belts at Srinagar airport. The other one was empty. The arrival terminal is bereft of any glowing billboards and other fan fare. Just a Foreigners Registration Desk and a few policeman.
A policeman came forward and asked him if he was a foreigner. The stranger said no.
Confused the policeman asked, “What is your country?”. “Kashmir”, he said.
And smiled to himself.
Thats how I saw him coming and that’s how he shall appear in my eyes on countless occasions. Smi
ling to himself, his red lips curled in an unabashed grin. Behind his dark glasses his eyes adjusting to the sunlight outside. I remember how gently his hair had fallen on his forehead. I remember that he had secretly loved his looks. I remember I had done too.
Love is a pointless emotion anyway, he had said before he had left. And now I couldn’t help a sinful wave turn inside me as he made his way through the throng of waiting placards. His fair face and red shirt standing out.
Of course we had coffee. Words and laughter flowed. A lot was said and heard. Autumn was not melancholy after all. I dont think it will ever be. I had prayed for him, and it was answered. Under the falling leaves of the chinar it was all blossoms.
The frail question still hung, “Will you dance with me?”
..to be continued…