It was a rainy morning of July. The heatwave which was at its height had been instantly replaced by playful cold breeze coming across the window of my room. Here at this moment, I realised I am finally back home, a place which has been described by many scholars across the world in different styles for its beauty and fantastic weather.
I once again started feeling lucky to be the resident of this paradise on earth. Just when I was completely lost in the serene sound of falling rain and blowing breeze, my cell phone began to ring and I came out of the trans which was built around me. Lazily I moved across the room to pick up my phone.
On the other side of the phone an offer for long drive was made which was in itself so tempting that it hardly took me any time to accept it. As I was hurriedly and excitedly picking up some important stuff for the drive, a beautiful and warm smile played on my lips as I could recall the last conversation I had with my roommate at the airport. I was telling her that this time I am going to make the best out of my vacations and she cannot even imagine the feeling of happiness, freedom and security that I will experience while stretching out my hands at the banks of Dal Lake. I had very slowly added to her that the sense of security that prevails in one’s mind while among his/her own people is something that cannot be expressed in words.
As soon as I readied my hand bag, I left my room and picked up the keys of the car. Started from home and picked up my friend on my way. It was perfect. Everything was perfect. Nothing could have been better than that. A beautiful weather, an old friend, a feeling of security and independence; we both could not stop our giggles over small and silly talks of the past. We were not just travelling towards Dal Lake but were also meanwhile walking down our memory lanes.
Remembering those punishments that we had borne together, those sweets for which we had endlessly fought, those classmates we had hated and those days when we were although living in conflict ridden Kashmir and yet so unknown to it. We could not realise how time fled by and we reached our destination. I was a bit more excited than my friend, so stepped out hurriedly.
But as I was getting out of my car, I realised as if someone is staring at us and instinctly I looked that way and found a group of thorough gentlemen sitting near the place we had chosen to sit at. I didn’t pay much attention as to why they had stopped talking and were looking at us. I inhaled the fresh air and closed my eyes to feel what I had longed to feel for so long. Soon my friend joined me and once again we started chatting, laughing and giggling. I took out my cell phone to click some selfies of us so that I could share it with my university friends at hostel. Suddenly one of the gentlemen from the group proceeded towards us. He snatched my cell phone from my hand and started screaming at us as loudly as he could manage. My mind was lost for some time and I could not hear as to what he was saying, all I could get was some random words like ‘behaya’ ‘belagaam’. And I turned to look at my friend and found tears in her eyes. At that very moment I was back to reality, now I could hear him very clearly. He was telling us that girls like us are a bad example for the society, girls like us who move out independently and enjoy outside like boys are the reason why our society is facing all the problems. He was asking me if I had any reply to, what I was thinking while laughing and giggling with my friend. I looked around me and saw a circle of people built around us. Some whispering to each other, some looking at us with sympathy and some nodding their heads in consent with what that man had to say. I moved my lips but no words came out. I closed my eyes to see if I was crying but found no tears coming out. I took the arm of my friend and moved towards the car. And with in no time we were on our way back home. But this time the atmosphere in the car was completely different. We were both silent and did not utter a word, I dropped my friend home and as soon I reached my home. I went to my parents and told them that I had to go back to university tomorrow only. They were puzzled and tried to persuade me to stay for at least two more days so that I could do some customary shopping before going back. But all I wanted was to go back. Next day when I had boarded a plane to Chandigarh and was looking out of the window, I was wondering why I had not replied to any of the things that person told me. Why I could not tell him that I was at my native land and had as much right to sit and enjoy anywhere I wished to. Why I could not tell him that by saying and doing what he did, he had snatched the sense of security from a girl which she was always proud of. Just then the flight took off, I looked out of window towards my kasheer and a silent tear rolled down my cheek.
Note: The author is pursing PHD in Mass Communications from Punjabi University Patiala, Punjab