On that sweltering day of July in Hyderabad, she just floated into the dining hall of our officers’ mess.A True Kashmir ki Kali in a cyan blue salwar suit, blushing and beautiful, she gushed over her own late arrival at the training academy!! Most of us were already in the rigours of our rigorous training schedule so we could spare her only a few smirks and sniggers; she was so oblivious to the obvious awaiting her!
Our training schedule hardly allowed us to mingle and hobnob,so we met up finally with our broken limbs at the military hospital. She was in the next bed to me. She was a Kashmiri and I was a Bihari and how we hit it off!
We would regale each other with the life, food, people stories of our states and gradually started bonding. She would tell me about the hills, the chinar, the Chenab and the ravaged souls. No blame, no anger. I in turn, took it upon myself to give her inroads into a Bihari lifestyle. Together we hobbled around with our fat feet in casts,merrily enjoying the hospital stay while our other batchmates put in their extra bit.
We both went on to become successful officers in the Indian Air Force. Our influences latent but so strongly embedded in each other’s psyche that I opted for J&K when asked to exercise a choice of posting, and she homed in on her soulmate in my Bihar. While I got to savour Gushtaba with Bakarkhani Roti during my tenure, she has started swearing by Litti Chokha!