No problem, I can make it on my own.
“aap tho hamare mehmaan ho, aap ki khusi hamari khushi”, Gulzar bhai told flexing his muscles around eyes and a broad nonchalant smile.
you are our guest, your happiness is our happiness.
“He really means it”,says my conscience.
Went with him with a leap of faith. Do I really have an option?
Beyond the hotel gate, A girl and a boy playing at the porch turned towards us in response to creaking gate sound and gifted a cute smile.
One of the best surprises in this unexpected journey.
Most underrated pleasures.
Like a smile from a new born looking right at us, just happy at our presence needing nothing else, looking eye to eye. Life is full of suprises just like this unexpected smile.
Gulzar was guiding directions to the hotel stay but I couldn’t take my eyes off from their strikingly beautiful light grey eyes and their smile.
At the hotel he introduced his elder brother, Ramzan bhai.
I nervously smiled and darted into the room.
Brushed.bathed.drank water. That’s when I realised how much I’ve troubled my jaws to chew gums to stay alert and awake.
Ears burning hot out of despair, fear and the warnings has cooled down
Land of paradise has cast a spell on me from thereon beginning with a children smile.
There were simple questions with deep concern.
Where do you come from?
How did you reach ? How was the journey ? for many days ? Alone ?
I was rarely asked my name during my entire stay in Kashmir.
Let alone the question of religion.
Gulzar brought his son, Faisal. To take me on a Shikara Ride.
The saying is truly true,
“Gar firdaus bar-rue zaminast, haminasto,haminasto”
If there’s heaven on earth, its here(kashmir).
Like a magic land which says no for footprints, there were miniscule ripples distracting the mirror images the lake has been forming.
Not just a treat to eyes,
the sounds of water being rowed back, songs of unknown birds welcoming the mehmaan,
sunshine providing the warmth by being mystically available peeking through mountains,
and the florists spreading their flower’s fragrance by their constant movement.
Justification of such experiences could only be relieved by experiencing again.Period.
I couldn’t see the time spent, neither did Faisal let me knew, but it was late in the evening I have returned.
Bliss. Eternal, pure and euphoric ones.
Just as we reached back to the residence, in hindsight of ongoing hartal, Gulzar bhai recommended to have home made food. I’ve decided to have wazwan and humbly said no.
Ramzan bhai escorted me to nearby best restaurants on foot which turned out unfruitful.
Leaving no other options to have food at their home. I shyly asked for more quantity.
10 minutes later, Ramzan Bhai brought these beauties into my room.
Never have I preyed upon food admiring each bite as I did now, thanking each grain for being on my plate, chicken for its sacrifice, beans for its best-toned shape.
One fine good meal, without which the night would have been incomplete. All the adversities and apprehensions I came with just vanished into thin air like the clouds. Left without a trace.
“please don’t feel shy, feel its your home and you are our little brothers”,said the brothers in turns.
From the nearby mosques, chants of Aazadi reverberated in my ears after azaan.
A brief conversation with bhai’s family, about how helpful the people are how delicious the food is and about my journey. Wish I knew kashmiri to praise the hands that made great food.
People aren’t against India. They were against Indian govt I quickly realised after several conversations.
Literal translation for Mahmaan in google is: A Guest. A stranger. A visitor.
Which is all I am for them.
And my new name for the time being, “Mahmaan”.