The air was chilly. I put my hands on the window to feel the cold and pulled away almost instantly. It was freezing and I heard my teeth chatter. The train was chugging through realms of whiteness. Soon I was lost in my mind's turmoils.
A day back I had reached Srinagar and checked into one of the hotels close to Dal lake. Solo Indian travelers are a rare sight, but solo Indian woman traveler are almost non-existent. And the suspicious stares from the receptionist confirmed this. Unfortunately, I wasn't here to explore Kashmir's winter beauty. I had flown in from Mumbai because I had other things on mind...
The train has finally reached my destination. - Qazigund. This small town in Anantnag district is called the Gateway of Kashmir. Until 2 weeks back, I wasn't even aware of its existence. I was here to meet the man I loved. It was him who had chosen Qazigund station as our rendezvous, since he was staying at the nearby town of Banihal for few days. It was going to be our last rendezvous...
I stepped out onto a snow-covered platform. It was just 10 in the morning, yet the station seemed deserted. I could see a tall figure walking towards me, but the heavy snowfall blurred my vision. As he came closer, I knew it was him. I still couldn't see his face, but something told me it can't be anybody else.
'You really shouldn't have come... '
I hugged him before he could complete the sentence. I was almost a foot shorter than him.
'I had to see you...' I said 'You really don't have to do this. Please tell me it's a nightmare and things will be back to normal once I wake up'.
'It's happening... And the sooner we accept this, the better for both of us' He said.
We sat on one of the snow clad bench, holding hands. Minutes passed, may be hours. We hardly spoke. He never said how he was feeling but his silence spoke more than words. I wanted to ask him to give me a little more time... a little more time to be near him... a little more time to hold his hand... a little more time to feel his presence in my life... a little more time in this hope that this little more time lasts forever...
"Take the next train back to Srinagar" He said... "I have to go back to..."
'No' was the only word that came out. I couldn't recognize my own voice. As the tears blinded my eyes, I held his hands tightly, not yet ready to let go. I felt a crushing pain, as if I was drowning. I knew I would never be the same again... Not today... Not tomorrow... Never.
A train was approaching the station.
'I have to get on that train. The next train to Banihal is after 3 hours' He said.
All I could do was nod in agreement. He kissed my forehead before walking away. I kept looking at the snow to avoid looking at him departing.
And so he left to marry the girl of his parents' choice, leaving the girl he loved sitting alone on a bench of the isolated Qazigund station. Her tears as frozen as the icicles hanging from the station roof. Her mind as colorless as the snow she rested her feet upon.
I don't know how long I waited there. I don't know how many trains I missed. I would have sat there for the entire night, if not for the good-hearted station master who had reminded me 'This is the last train before sunset. You should leave...'. His voice felt like it came from miles away. I was broken out of a trance. I should leave, I should leave - I repeated to myself. I boarded the next train out of Qazigund station.
I spent that night lying awake, staring up at the fan, trying to concentrate on counting the moving blades. The tears that rolled down, however had minds of their own. I felt lost... bleeding... crumbling... trying to fight the emptyness within me. I wanted to sleep; not because I felt sleepy or because I was tired, because I didn't want to be awake any more... But even sleep was elusive that night.
Next morning, before leaving for the airport, I took a walk around the Dal lake. But neither the snow clad houseboats moored on it banks nor the snow covered houses and trees appealed to me.
This quote by Kelly Link explains why I had traveled 2200 Kms to see the man I loved walk away.
"You were going to travel for love, without shoes, or cloak, or common sense. This is one of the things a woman can do when her lover leaves her. It's hard on the feet perhaps, but staying at home is hard on the heart, and you weren't quite ready to give up on him yet."Now-a-days bridging large distances are easier... All you have to do is take a flight and it only takes few hours to travel thousands of miles. But how do we bridge the small distance between two hearts?
This article was written in association with Indiblogger and British Airways for 'Go further to get closer' contest.
Do watch this heart touching commercial by British Airways :-)
, by Sanghita Nandi