Nine years later.
‘You know,’ he said over tea one day, ‘you used to say that you are not a feminist.’
‘What?’ I said. I nearly spurted my chai.
There was almost no context for this. And I couldn’t believe it.
‘I don’t believe this. Why would I say that I’m not a feminist,’ I said.
‘You did. You also said that you’re not a Punjabi.’
I laughed out loud.
‘But you knew that I am a Punjabi. How can I say that I’m not one?’ (And same for feminist, I thought to myself.)
‘You said it. When we first knew each other, you said this to me… Don’t believe what anyone says about me. Believe me.’
I said that I am not a feminist. This sounded incredulous.
Then I started remembering. Man, I must have been so desperate for you, I thought to myself. Rather fondly.
It also reminded me that for many years we did not have a language in common between us. You misunderstood my Delhi hindi-english and I misunderstood a lot about you. Frankly, I didn’t understand much at all.
I also remembered one more thing. And that made me smile smugly.
Who cares what I said about myself? I always knew that YOU are a feminist.
(I think I will elaborate on this post another day. Why would I have denied being from Delhi, being Punjabi and being feminist to impress an Urdu speaking fellow from Jaunpur? As it turned out, he is really from Ghazipur, but at that time it all sounded the same to me.)