I smile looking at the arm that is stretched a few inches away from my shoulder, protectively. No, I’m not in Kashmir, I’m walking in Vasant Lok Market and I am not Salman Khan and this is not Shera but the Alpha Male was here and that’s just how his reflexes work around me. We have a quite dinner in a deserted restaurant. I listen as he talks about how lonely his life is away from home and how many years it will take him to move back to his Motherland.
A couple of months of working with the labour- laying bricks, trying to build another home outside of Srinagar, has tanned the hairy, disproportionately, huge forearms. Though he’s neither tall, nor bulky and has a voice which is as soft as a scared child’s, one always wonders what is it about him that makes people instantaneously back off. From the ex, to a mob, from the father to friends, something about him makes all the men around one, very uncomfortable.
SB occasionally, in her oh so cocky manner, tries to poke him around. ‘Baap lag rahaa he mera?’, the one question she uses to piss off most men has not effect on him. ‘Haan’, he replies in his matter of fact manner. He’s seen SB around too many men to not know all her tricks, so he dodges, ducks and attacks her like a pro. SC he indulges, silly, so that makes him, her favourite person in the world. SB and SC, may be dil fekh aashiqs ( one more than the other) but their respect is so hard to earn, even to themselves they hand it out as a well deserved bonus. But in a world full of people pleasers and reflective personalities, where all feelings are entwined with social acceptance from kith and kin, they hardly ever get to meet anyone, who says what he means and always means what he says. Someone who is not swayed by people or trends, is totally fearless and whose sense of right and wrong, though dramatically different from one’s, always points north. Someone who works like a donkey and prays like a devout. Something about this person’s unflinching loyalty towards his family, friends and most of all to SC, makes her feel secure and his ability to handle SB, people, trust me, is award winning.
I drive him to the airport and of course everyone hates goodbyes, so it’s uncomfortable for both of us. He informs me that he’s going to return after twelve months and will stopover in Delhi, when he does. I bid him adieu.
As I stand on the threshold of forty and contemplate motherhood in the near future, I shudder at the idea, that all of it may come at the expense of something that has saved me. That if anything close to attraction comes rushing through the door, anytime soon, it will disrupt a friendship which helped me to rebuild myself from dust. Friendship, Emotional Security and Gratitude was a choice I did opt for once and let’s just say, I have borne the repercussions of that one before. But the other one is such a shot in the dark and handling me is no child’s play. It requires the skill of a Matador. Maybe I should do what I always do in this case, pretend to be an Ostrich and bury my head in the sand. Whatever goes let it go, whatever stays ( nothing ever does) let it stay!