A friend sent me this sms today.

6 am rush hour. Getting stuff ready for school. I get a call on my cell. A polite male voice wishes me ‘salaam walekum, bhai jaan hai?’ … I stammer ‘nahi, nahi’. My mind is blank, being yanked into a different world. I search earnestly, is it — salaam walekum or walekum salaam? .. What was the right thing?… Only when the voice asks for bhaijaan again that I remember to say wrong number. He says sorry .. I go back to world but thoughts creep between my stupidity of salaam or walekum and my son’s lunch boxes.  Could that be a terrorist? .. Strange how easy it is to make me suspicious,  even with all my intellectual upbringing which seems so skin deep.. How easy it is to break my faith on the other Indian who i’ve never learnt to wish ...’

It prompted me to write this.

That in turn, led me to dig up a short story ‘Alias‘, published last year in ‘Stories at the Coffee Table‘.