Why am I lying on a grass-bed? How did I come here? Who brought me here? Did someone kidnap me?  – queries rushed in my mind. I looked upwards – the bed was placed  inside a tent. How come I came in this gaudy tent? I had stayed in a tent once – remembered once I went to a trek with Joy. Yes Riddhi was also part of the group of twelve people having fun discovering  solitary Himalayan destinations together -– we stayed in tents.  Did I come back to that place in my dreams? It was our last trip together- that too fifteen years back. Melancholy grasped me – wasn’t I a big day-dreamer dreaming of his coming back someday just for me since so many years? – Oh no! Again the wound in my heart started bleeding. I felt like screaming again, forgetting that I might have been trapped by a kidnapper in this unfamiliar place. A strange shriek came out of my throat.

Within moments, a weirdly dressed man entered the tent. He wished my good morning, “Long live the King! Servant is waiting for your order!” The tall, muscular, brown, bare-chaste guy scared me. He was wearing a dhoti and some silver jewelry resembling the male fashion models showcasing Indian jewelry on ramps. I was sure he had kidnapped me – but why – why he calls me a King – standing in such a courteous posture? What happened to him? Next moment I saw a lady behind him entering the tent with a silver tumbler – her sight was even more disquieting. She was wearing only single piece saree tied like a dhoti on her waist while upper part of her body adorned with chunks of silver jewelry but barely covered with only a piece of white cloth. How shameless this girl could be who did not even bother to cover the youthful contour of her voluptuous body!  The dark beauty came towards my bed – placed the tumbler beside and stood like an orderly. I noticed lukewarm scented water inside the tumbler and a piece of cloth in her hand as if she was supposed to help me wash. The man told, “I will come back after the king finishes dressing up.” – and left the tent. This was moment I looked at my own body  –  what a scandalous thing happened to me! Both my hands were hairy – whereas I never forgot to wax my hands. I looked at my tummy – the fatty lumps disappeared and a Schwarzenegger-like six pack structure showed up instead. My protruding breasts above my belly vanished  – I felt shocked like never before – whose body is that! I could not stand any longer – fainted immediately.

Again when I opened my eyes, I saw the girls face – her hands sprinkling scented water on my face. I saw her skimpily covered body – felt embarrassed. Then looked at my own body – it truly converted to a man’s.  The man seems in his late thirties, bejeweled – how much these rings on my hand cost? – I could not stop wondering. How did I come here? How did my body change? True I was not happy with my hanging tummy and rapidly aging skin, but that doesn’t mean I was praying to have a hairy male muscular body with a genitalia visible under my silk-cloth. No I didn’t want it. I am neither used to putting on this expensive cloths nor comfortable to claim a bare hairy chest like this to be my own. Who changed it for me – and how? I did not remember whether I decided for some Sex-change operation. But not even our best-performing doctors can change a body overnight. I wanted to ask the girl but could not utter a single word. I felt my unshaven chin, looked at the girl again – still waiting with a soft towel in hand. I could only utter, “leave!” She looked at me surprised. How could I explain her how I was feeling insecure with my body – I did not want anyone touching or seeing this. I sat straight on the bed.

I was not in a condition to think rational. Still I saw the worry in the girl’ face; she probably thought I was angry with her. My unfamiliar voice told her – “bring me a mirror and let me stay alone for some time.” She looked relieved.

She brought a hand-mirror from one corner of the tent. By then I realized the tent was quiet large one – not at all like those cheap ones crammed by group of unprofessional trekkers. But the mirror caught my attention! It was an oval-shaped metal piece – smoothed and polished on one side giving it a mirror like finish – sides of which are intricately curved. Who am I suing those kinds of antique staffs? – Inquisitiveness overpowered my embarrassment. I lifted my hairy right hand adorned with a heavy golden bangle and matching armband to show the girl the hand-gesture to leave; she left. I stood up – I wanted to see myself.

To be cont.