Liza just couldn’t get enough of the shoot. All the time, she had to run from one corner of the field to the other as fake bombs exploded in the air. There were cameras all around the ground as a few drones tried to capture the footage from top. Liza had seen drones before. They were common in Kandahar, an area famous for American drone attacks where the Americans send robot controlled drone carrier planes to shoot missiles and bomb the mountains and the tribal people of the region. Many Pathan families had lost their loved ones in these drone attacks. Liza was at first stiff when she saw the drones hovering in the air. But soon, she realised it was some sort of filming device that the Bollywood guys were using. Her doubt and apprehension faded away as she ran screaming with hands in the air. She immersed herself in the shoot and her character as her hijab bellowed as she flung herself up and down in ecstasy all the while aware that her movements were being captured by the drones. She found the taste of ultimate freedom. Drones were objects that she was petrified of as they caused death and destruction to the village that she was living in with her first master Baksh. But here she was under another kind of a drone and she was jumping, cheering and dancing for joy egging the flying object to capture her moves. What role reversal! Yes, she was free and felt so too.
It had been a hard day and all the running had caused her feet to ache. She felt that her knees were also hurting. After having a cup of tea and biscuits, she sat on the ground and on the mat trying to massage her feet and knees. “Begum jaan, lager hei thaaaak gaya aap, laiye mein koshish karta hun.” Babrik sat next to her and pulled her feet towards him as he slowly started massaging her feet and then her toes. “Bada zor laga rahein hein aap kyun aap ki koi begum nahi?” Liza demanded to know as if it was her right. “Nahi ji akele hein. Seedhe mein rahen hein, sarrey rishtedaar Afganistan mein hein.” Babrik opned up about his family and his background. “Chaar picture mein aur kaam mila hei. Mujhey acting mein maza ata hei.” Liza turned away towards the middle of the ground. It was almost pack up time and all the kids had retired to the nearby tents to change. Some locals were getting themselves photographed with Sanjay Dutt. The others were just plain awestruck. There was a band of actors under the tree with their machine guns and bazookas. There were all fake though they looked real. “Tu tho dau jess lag raha hei, kabuki kabuki yaar lager hei aap se.” She said with dreamy eyes. “Arrey dear kis baat ka hum accha aadmi hei, Kabul mein humra brother minister hei.” Babrik tried to show the girl that he was of the finest pedigree.
“Kal aap dono ka shooting hei saath mein.” The assistant director explained to Liza and Babrik. “Yeh terrorist hei aur bomb blast hota hei tab yeh aap pe gold chaletien hein. Khoob running karna hei aap ko aur skrem karna hei, good you will enjoy it.” The assistant explained in an animated tone. The two got the drive and understood their work next day. “Subhana Allah! Ab aap ke saath acting karney ka mauna miley ga, Allah hums hush hei.” Babrik smiled and waved into the open sky as he said this. Liza just turned around and smiled at him. She was enjoying his attention and was even responding with a bit of her own.
Next day was routine as usual. This time, more cameras were on the set as Liza tried to rehearse for her shot under the shade of a tree. She caught the eye of a travel photographer who zoomed in on her and started clicking away. Instead of being shy, she started posing for the camera all the while smiling and looking deep into the camera with her soulful eyes. She walked around the maze of trees and then tried to hide herself behind white screens that were being used to cut the sunlight while filming. But our photographer did not relent and chased after her with his camera and lens. He had found his Diotima, the lady in the orange hijab and he wanted her pictures. From the corner of his eye, Babrik saw this scene. He was tempted to jump into this situation and save his girl from the clutches of this wile photographer. “Ruko saala! Thum usko photo mat lo nahi tho tuck hum marre gi.” He barked aloud across the field and started to chase after the travel photographer. Liza saw this and sat down on a bench pretending to be having tea as she saw two grown men fight for her attention. Babrik was a tall well-built strong man and the photographer was a bit old short and puny. They were not equal men. The photographer realised this and ran towards the edge of the field and out of the compound. Babrik stood in front of Liza and said as he panted, “Bhaga diya usko wo btameez saal.” This was the first time Liza realised that the Afghan was also protective about her and cared for her. She looked at his rough face and his black turban. This was indeed a desert God and he saw her as his orange queen laced in the silk orange flowing hijab. This was something else.
In less than a week, these two had bonded and could be seen at the dinner table together as Babrik took pictures and videos of our little slave girl. She, by now, seemed to have forgotten all about her past and sunk deep into her new paradise with Babrik and the Bollywood wallahs. They sat together on the bus as Liza slept with her head tilted on the window. Babrik put his hand on her so as to shelter the girl from the cold of the night. Kyrgyzstan can get very chilly in the night and a winter jacket is a must for the night and late evenings.
The newly formed couple were seen taking evening walks across the local parks and hotels exploring the city and its culture together. It had been a week together and it seemed that the shoot would be extended. The two would get to spend more time with each other. Time is what was on the side of our little slave girl Liza as she got her first taste of true freedom and her first touch of love.