Dost

The cynic in me wants to start with the lines, ‘another one bites the dust.’ Then I think about the person and beat the cynic, down.

I retreated into my shell instead of saying anything, as I drove him to the Bus Adda. He looked at me in the same inquisitive manner I’d grown accustomed to, trying to figure out what goes on in this warped brain of mine. I know my silence can sometimes be hurtful but nothing good comes out of mouth when I’m scared. My usual retort is that of a sadak chaap- ‘mujhe kyaa hoga? Mujhe kissi  ka farak nahin padta.’

What could I have said to my bodyguard? He was moving to a new city and I was probably never going to see him, again. Goodbyes are always hard and this one…hmm.

Should I have begun by thanking him for standing up to a mob for me; for saving me on more occasions than I could count?

Should I have asked how he’s always remained so unperturbed by my sharp quills? Though he calls my tongue an AK47, he always says, ‘baaki saab ko daraayaa karo, mujhe nahin daar lagta aapse’. 

Should I have told him how grateful I was for his concern for my well being?  One of the few people who stood by my side last year, yelling, coaxing and sometimes even pleading. ‘Get up, work, pray, go to the gym’, he would say, playing part parent, part shrink.

Isn’t it strange that a person who came from such a dramatically different background, felt no hesitation in telling me whenever I was wrong or getting ‘hyper’, occasionally reminding me that I was a woman and he was around to do the manly work of handling the uncouth? He is a chauvinist but considering his exposure to conflict its but natural for him to be overly protective of women.

But true to character I didn’t say anything. He asked me what was wrong? I just shook my head. A few awkward handshakes later, with him asking me to say , ‘Jau Khuda ke havale’ and me repeating the words, I left.

On the way back, I heard these lines and couldn’t help but smile.

Muskaane ka gur bhi sikhaya
Peena sikhaya gham
Yaadein karodon jisne di
Usey kaise bhulayein hum.

I know he’ll be very successful. He’s hardworking and fearless. I pray he gets everything he wants and some more. I wish our paths cross again, someday and I hope he knows I will always be grateful for everything he’s done. He could read my silences, I just hope he managed to- the last time we met.

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