“Rab Rakha Puttar,” said Darji, as he waved to Guri who was going to shoot a documentary on Prisoners of War. Guri buried herself in the book to avoid any disturbance during those twelve hours of journey. Biji had already warned her not to chitchat with strangers like a toddler.
“Salam Walequom, are you going to Lahore?” asked the co-passenger as he took the weight off his feet and gave his backpack a window seat. He started humming “Roshewalla Myaene Dilbaro Poshan Bahara Your Wallo.”
She faked gazing at the scenery outside and then she tried to read the book held in her hand but in vain. Guri’s heart skipped a beat as her hazel eyes perched from her book. A chiseled face, trimmed beard, well-toned physique, dressed in black pathani suit and the melodious humming tugged the right chords. How can she ignore him she thought? The train rocked back and forth, so did their conversation. As their talks travelled effortlessly, she sensed a muffled intimacy with the stranger.
“Apki chai,” he said handing over the cup to Guri. “Actually,” Guri mumbled hesitantly. “You drink milk, I know. Hahaha,” he laughed a hearty laugh. “This is kahwa, equivalent to milk,” he continued as he set his flask on the table. The train hopped and trundled through Wagah Junction after Attari. Guri’s heart ached to leave India. How the thousands of people might have felt on the Eve of Independence Day, she thought.
The night went into slumber wrapped in a foggy quilt. Guri woke to screams only to find the train set ablaze. Her co-traveler was nowhere to be seen. “Biji was right I shouldn’t have trusted him.” Just as Guri cursed her co-passenger, baffled Afzal entered the compartment and handed over a burqua. “I borrowed this from a lady. Please wear this, I will tell them you are my wife. After a few days I will drop you back to India,” he said. A sudden deluge of love enveloped Guri’s heart the moment she wrapped the burqua.
After 21 days, she wrote a letter to Darji. It read,
I came here in search of people who break our hearts. But I found the missing piece of my heart on a train for the journey of life!
Gurpreet Afzal Khan.
“Rajjo Ji, Lahore forfeited the little doll you found on train 21 years ago,” said to Darji to Biji as they dissolved in tears.
Rab Rakha Puttar:May God Protect You
Biji: Grand Mother
Salam Walequom: Greetings
Roshewalla Myaene Dilbaro Poshan Bahara Your Wallo.”- Kashmiri Folk Song – Come, my beloved, Spring has finally arrived.
Apki chai: Your Tea
Kahwa: The tea is made by boiling green tea leaves with saffron grown in Kashmir, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, and occasionally Kashmiri roses to add a great aroma. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts.
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