“Your family has never been out together?”
“No didi. If we lock the door, those delinquents break the lock and steal away all your valuables”
“Unbelievable. And what about sandwich? Seriously?”
“Yes. I have never tasted sandwich. If I come to Mumbai ever will you please make sandwich or pizza for me? I have only heard about them till date”
I felt dazed and I replied, “obviously sweetheart”
“Didi you know I hardly have any toys, we don’t have access to a lot of things here although we are well off. There is terror spread always. Curfew goes on for months. They say that soldiers even pick up local girls and do wrong things with them. I don’t know if it is true”
His talks made me feel he was too mature for his age. “How do you know?”
“I heard daddy talking”
I looked around the room. Pink walls, a bed for two people and how my things were scattered all around. I needed to absorb everything that we discussed so I got up took out two packet of lays, biscuits and chewing gum out of my bag. I offered it to him.
He was fair, with those typical kashmiri face cut, hair strands falling on his forehead, i found him cute. I liked his innocence. He was shy, maybe because of his lifestyle and culture. My dad had met his father when he came to Mumbai for an interview in my dad’s office and my dad had helped him. His dad had even come to pick us up at srinagar airport and visited us everyday during our one week’s stay. They were two elder sisters and this younger guy.
He continued further
“We don’t have school for months. You know recently some terrorists entered in our residential area and started firing”
I was startled.
The next time when his dad came to Bombay I sent him games and toys as gift and I had sworn never to visit Kashmir again but I feel someday I will surely visit just to see him and now its my wish to take sandwiches and pizzas and burgers and all the extravagant things that we enjoy in our daily lives without giving it a second thought.
We crib, shriek and yelp so much but we forget that there are people who are not as fortunate as us, who don’t get one day’s meal, who sleep hungry. We live in Mumbai- a well known city in India but there co-exists a place called “Kashmir” in the same country with these contradictory and hard to digest facts. The people who don’t have peace, those who grow their own vegetables because of the tautness of curfew, children who have never tasted burgers or sandwiches and never been out together as a family.
Strange but true- India is a land of diversity.