because we (me and my mother )were really terrified due to terrible environment of violence in Kashmir we had seen in movies and used to frequently read in news, but were left with no other option instead of packing our bags because he was not ready to cancel them at any cost.And in all this hustle bustle of fear and adventure, finally the day came when we left for Delhi to depart.
We reached two hours before our flight time for security check in and after finishing it ,we were again left with one more hour to wait for boarding.My father sat on the bench with newspaper in boarding lounge which was enough for him to spend leisure till the flight staff called us.My younger brother was in very much enthusiasm for traveling to new place ,so he was sorting out his queries regarding new location by talking to Mom.Only I was left who had nothing to do, except roaming here and there because that time I wasn’t interested in reading even .When I came back to sit on bench with my family,I slightly noticed the young handsome guy with greenish eye balls was sitting opposite to us, reading newspaper with his glances on me little bit .After sometime when the boarding get started , we moved towards the flight and grabbed our seats as per the allotment.Me, my brother and mom were in one row, while my father sat in opposite row.Coincidentally that same handsome guy got the seat in our opposite row.So amidst both of us was the aisle. Till now after so many years of that trip,I had never seen so many seats remaining vacant specially in Jet Airways.Fortunately on that day lots of seats were vacant.As soon as we settled down, my Mom took out candies from her purse and distributed among us, my bro gave them to my father who was on the window seat of the opposite row, out of which he gave few to that guy.He liked the friendly nature of my Dad, and accepted candies.Astonishingly when the flight was ready for take off, Dad asked me if I want that window seat, as he could grab another window seat for which he had already confirmed from Air Hostess due to vacancy and also he didn’t knew that he is going to give a chance to that guy to start conversation with me, otherwise an Indian father will never do that ….. he..he
I was watching out of window, when unexpectedly I heard a voice asking,”Hello,If you don’t mind can we talk ?” Hesitatingly, because my parents were around us and he was a stranger firstly I thought to refuse, but as there was nothing to worry about and even I was getting bored , I nodded my head in agreement ,”Yeah tell me “.And from here our one hour fifteen minutes journey started from Delhi,,,,,,,
He:Hi, my name is Sameer, Sameer Shah and yours???
Me : Payal
He: Is this your first trip to Kashmir??
He:Oh!! I belong to Srinagar only.
Me:OK,that’s great !
He: Well I am in third year of M.B.B.S and doing it from Nagpur,and you??
Me: I am in first year of my graduation in Biotechnology.
He: Oh Wow!! It is having good scope, now a days (Grinning)!!
Me: Yeah, but not much in India.Well I have a question in mind, as you belongs to Srinagar, how do you people manage to live ,when there is such terrifying environment of riots, conflicts?? I am getting goosebumps while going as a tourist even.
He:Giggled,,, Though my parents sent me outside Kashmir for studies, just because of such environment only, so that I may concentrate on studies, forgetting everything.But for us these bomb blasts and firings are like crackers bursting on festivals. It’s my home town and still a heaven, so I can’t leave coming to this place, to my family.And believe me, it is very much safe for tourists…..
Me: Startled by what he told, but impressed by his spirit.So who all are there in your family??
He: Mine is nuclear family with my father, mother & my younger sister Shama.
Me: OK !! giggled..(while looking outside window)
He: Well, I found your father’s nature very friendly, as I have never seen anyone asking for any thing to stranger in flight.
Me: Yeah, he is !!!(grinned with confused expressions, whether he is really impressed or just embarrassing me)
He: So where you all will be staying in Srinagar??
Me: In some hotel,name I don’t know ,my father would be knowing.
He: Why don’t you people stay at our home.We will show your family all the places around as per their wish.
Me: Well that would be our pleasure!! but for this you need to ask my father( which I was sure, he will never do) because he only planned the whole trip( while again staring outside from window, as I knew my brother and mother were rolling their eyeballs on me which made me feel weird.Might be I could stop this conversation in between, but I didn’t want that because I found him gentle and genuine.
He:I brought three boxes of oranges from Nagpur,I always bring them for my family,when ever I come for vacations,So would you like to take one??
Me: No,Thanks !! We already have lots of baggage with us.
Me: Another question popped in my head and I somehow asked without giving a second thought,”Surely you would be having any girl friend ??”
He: Guffawed!! How you are so sure??
Me: No I mean, you are a medical student with good looks , caring for a stranger even, what else any girl wants??
He: Ha…ha Even I can ask you same question, as you also look beautiful, so do you have boyfriend ?Anyways I don’t have, because I don’t have time for it with hell burden of medical books.
Me: ( with dancing heart, as I was complimented).No I don’t have.So when ever you will look for, what will be your priority??
He: Though I have not set any priority,but want a girl with beautiful heart much more than her looks.
Me: (Can’t say whether the line was to impress or he really believes that,but I was impressed)Oh ! ! If you really think so,I must say you have beautiful spirit.
He: Thanks !! Yes I really believe so…
Me:(Srinagar was about to come as mountains covered with layers of ice became visible)Again I started looking outside window to enjoy the beauty of nature and the landscape seems like a black & white sketch drawn on extreme canvas with sharp black graphite pencil.While I was totally adrift in the scenic beauty, again I heard his voice….
He:This time outside temperature would be in minus,so keep yourself covered with multiple sweaters and an overcoat.In summertime ,it turns up in to green.
Me: OK !! (simply nodded)
He: Take my number as I will be here for ten days , in case you need any help…9259……
Me: I didn’t hear his number ,because don’t know why but I quickly realised that if I took his number,I might not be able to control my self from calling him and though it was too early to think but I also knew we are not going to have any future ,because he was from different religion and state, which my family won’t support and this boy was too pretty for just friendship, so better to leave it at that turn.
He: Do you have any mail id, so that sometimes I may send you message, just as a friend ??
He: (with a shock)Seriously I can’t believe that,how is it possible ???? You must be lying.
Me: But this is true…I am sorry.
He: I am really impressed !!
Was he or he interpreted me as a fool?? (dilemma… )
Anyways in few minutes we were about to land in Srinagar as per the instructions of flight captain.
He : Hopefully will catch you somewhere in Srinagar (grinned)
Me: Let’s see!! (from heart I really wanted if we could meet again, might be just to know him better as a person )
And the flight landed………
Me: Take care. Bye( felt quite sad because I didn’t realize how that one hour fifteen minutes had spent so fast, but anyways I had to move)
He: Bye . You too….
While we got down from flight, my father attacked me with bullets of questions……Why I was talking to him ?What we were talking about? Did we exchanged numbers….and I exclaimed , a big NO!!
Somehow my Mom supported me with her interruption,”It’s fine if she was talking, she was talking in front of us and I have confidence on her”.
We arrived at the airport and reached to belt at which our luggage was loaded.While we were collecting our bags, unexpectedly Sameer came to my father and asked,”Uncle would you like to come with us and stay at our home” ? which my father softly refused with acknowledgement of his pre-bookings of hotels etc and he left the place with gesture of final bye.
Though I couldn’t believe that how a person can be so perfect ,but his last humble expression had earned lot of respect for him in my heart .I don’t know what would have happened, if I had taken his number, but the turn at which I left it is unforgettable ,as an alluring memoir and this trip had changed my opinion about Kashmir too.We roamed on streets of Kashmir ,around Dal lake even on 26th January and there was nothing to worry about.Few of the Kashmiri locals offered us Kahwa(kashmiri green tea flavoured with cardamom and saffron) on Shikara and while we wandered around. With all my experience I reached to a conclusion that it’s not actually the local residents who are earning money by simple living, creating problems in Kashmir, but the separatists who don’t count themselves as Indians and militants of other countries who have made prominence in Kashmir now .