Pranav had just made it in time. Not just with the flowers, but in picking her up as well. As she left from breakfast, he called to tell her that he was waiting in the parking. He had planned a Jeep ride to Dachigam National Park. They would spend the afternoon here and return to the hotel by evening. If they manage their time well, they’d witness the sunset on a shikara in the Dal, if not, they would witness the sheer beauty of their surroundings on a shikara in the Dal. Initially, they had toured the park on the jeep but decided to walk for the most part.
“Did you have any other plans for the day?”, asked Pranav.
“No, nothing as such.”, Namrata replied.
“If you did, you can tell me about them, we can skip the shikara ride in the evening.”, he suggested.
“No Pranav, the only plan that I have made lately is to come to Kashmir and with that, a part of me believes that I have exhausted my annual quota of planning things in advance.”, she retorted.
He giggled meekly, she looked at him and sighed.
“What, now my stupidity also does not strike as amusing enough for you to crack up into a hearty laughter.”, she asked him cheekily.
“Just like on many other fronts, there is room for improvement here as well.”, he answered back.
She slapped him on his arm and they both chuckled.
She had entirely forgotten what walking and bantering with Pranav felt like. For that matter, she had entirely forgotten what being with Pranav was like. Pranav brought a sense of organization to the table. He always functioned with a plan. All the trips that they had taken together were a product of his meticulous plans. This was one of the first things that had drawn her towards him, his management skills, his sense of control. And this was the one thing that had validated her belief that they were meant for each other, that they fit together. Because she was a free spirited soul who functioned on an impulse and impulse almost always backfires or leaves room for an error. So every time she was in need of a blueprint or a modus operandi, he would pitch in.
As much as she had been demonstrating agony on his decision to come to Kashmir, a part of her is relieved because he will take care of the itineraries and arrangements and the must visit spots and the little known places, while she could simply breathe free. The ability to breathe free defined what she wanted out of this trip.
On days she would admire his forethought and on days she’d envy him. Envy because she suspected that if they fall apart, he would have a plan even for that contingency, unlike her, whose plan could be summed up into two words- fall apart. But what good will envy do to her, she knew she was always much less than what he deserved.
Pranav peeked onto the DSLR, some of the pictures that Namrata had taken were brilliant. He was surprised and asked her, “From what I can recall, you were a lousy photographer.”
“Yes, I indeed was.”, she confirmed.
“Then, how did this happen?”, he asked her, pointing to an endearing picture of a black bear on the camera.
“I looked up for photography workshops online. I had joined a bird watching group last year and I used to take my camera along on Sunday mornings. Then earlier this year, when you were in Brazil, I would go to Mughal Gardens and photograph the gardens in full bloom. I had started because I had had idle time on my hands and eventually I began to enjoy it.”, she told him.
Namrata takes the camera from him and slyly walks ahead to photograph a musk deer, while Pranav looks at her in awe. When he had bought the camera she had protested, knowing that he was buying only because they could afford it not because any one of them was driven towards photography. Out of them both, she had taken time to make use of one of the many things that were of no use to them. But it was not only her efforts that he admired but this lack of restraint that she exercised, this sense of liberty that was ingrained in her being. How she wants to try her hand at a number of things and how she accommodates them in her schedule. With her, nothing is unattainable. This quality of her was what he had fallen for in the first place, the boundlessness of her spirit. On some days he admired it and on some days he envied it. Envy because he suspected that the day she would call it quits on them, she would move on another project and she would go on to do that till something comes to satisfy her, till something makes her feel whole again. But what good would envy do to him, he always knew that she deserved much better than him.
He continued to walk and think, until he hit a rocky patch when his feet staggered and he was knocked out of the string of thoughts. He saw the sunlight easing and a hue of crimson drawing in the sky, he stopped where he was, and called out, “Namrata, if we go back from this point, we may make it in time.”
Love dwells in mutuality, but what if the mutuality roots in the belief of not being good enough for each other. Does that count as well?