It was an odd combination of foggy haze in the distant hills with the scorching sun beating down on us. I shudder to even think about the summer days in this part of the world!
A long time ago, a friend advised me to click as much as possible when being a tourist because you might never go there again. Like an obedient student, that is what I do when going to new places. I end up sharing less than a fifth of those shots--though I don't know a damn thing about photography, I have my own criteria to filter the bad from the good and the excellent ones!
A couple of minutes later, the guide and the lad sidled up beside me. "Photos look?" the guide asked.
I help up the camera for them and kept advancing though the images. They seemed happy. Of course, they had also been taking photos throughout; my guess is that they wanted to see themselves in my shots.
As I put that away, the guide asked, "where is madam?"
A question about wife and children is always to be expected in India. It is a part of the conversations.
"No wife" I replied. "Divorced."
It was clear he hadn't expected that response. Perhaps because to him, too, divorce continues to be a dreaded "d" word in India. It might even be acceptable to share everything related to the cancer one might be suffering from--it is no "c" word--but divorce is another thing all together.
My parents hadn't even updated their domestic help that I am divorced. When she asked me why my wife hadn't joined me on the trip, my eyes shifted to my parents with a look of "what? you haven't told her this from a while ago?" They stepped in with the Tamil word for divorce. She didn't ask me anything after that.
I felt that it was my responsibility to put the guide at ease. I showed him one of my favorite photos of my daughter--at her medical school graduation--which I have retained in the camera over the years. "This is my daughter" I told him.
He nodded his head. And seemed to think about the question he could ask me. After some hesitation he asked, "daughter married?" I said yes.
The guide was definitely thinking a lot more. A minute or so later came the next question. "So, daughter wedding before or after the divorce" and I answered that too.
"But, you not married?" he seemed incredulous. It seemed like he would gladly find me a bride from his hometown.
I laughed. We resumed the hike.