Article: Letter From Pakistan to India; With Love
Naya Saal Mubarak (Happy New Year)!
This might reach you as a surprise that I think about you quite a lot. Yet, maybe it no more surprises you because as Raghavan ji already declared that ‘itna acha mahool’ hai. Well, 68 years have passed; can’t believe that things went so quickly. We’ve walked our own particular paths, and there have been both good years and not so good. But yes, Pakistan is great. We have our own share of problems, here and there.
I was only 14 when my grandfather told me off on mom’s complaint. “In 1944, I walked all the way from Chitral to Bombay and nothing tired me enough to take rest for just the night’s sleep. Oh, this new generation” he criticized. He told me off but naming Bombay, he sowed in me this wish to travel to India. A longing that came true! When I was invited to this great land, I was extremely happy about it, to be honest. But on the other side, I was nervous about going. And let me also admit that a part of me didn’t want to go at all. Padosi, don’t take it personally. One side of me had believed in a stereotypical image of India as perceived, as taught, and as learned. I felt guilty. ‘Why am I being so excited about going? I had disliked this country for so long’ I thought I did not deserve it. Then, the day across the border, everything was just so typical. I had tears in my eyes: of extreme joy and happiness.
Now that I have visited India thrice, I can say with extreme surety that our hearts are at the right and one place. Back in days, our fates were decided by our leaders and we parted ways. Ever since the day it happened, I know there are some questions I need to ask you and some things you need to get off your heart. Then maybe, once all this is done, we really can forget everything, and move on, and be good friends. But we all know that this is unlikely. We are wasting our potential and energies in the wrong direction, holding grudges and harboring bitterness against each other. We cannot really go back in time, change something, or fix another thing. But what we can do and what really is important is that we make an effort to learn to respect each other. And most importantly accept that we are independent sovereign countries. Yet, in the words of Gulzar Sahib I want to reiterate that ‘ham ne zameen ka batwara kia hai, diloon k nahi’.
The new year is here and we should think about what we are giving in to our future generations. Having built up a wall of ignorance about each other on the foundation of sixty seven years, let’s work to build such an stronger connection and friendship that one day at Wagha-Attari, we sit together and probably laugh about what happened between us! I hope that wherever you are right now reading this letter, that whatever you’re doing, and that wherever life’s decided to take you, I hope you’re happy. I really truly hope that you are as happy as I am right now.
I love you India and I love your streets: from Delhi, Chandigarh, Agra, to Ajmer, I miss all of them. I mean really, truly, from the very bottom of my heart, in complete and total honesty. And my dear padosi, deep somewhere, ‘maybe’ I expect a reply to this letter. Far from it, I ‘actually’ do. Personally, I’d not mind if you choose not to reply to this but if you have seen it, I just want you to think about it. I wish our dreams of peace, friendship and love come true. This year! And now even if in some dreadful scenario, someone from among us fights, let’s not feel guilty about it after all ladna toh pyar ki nishani hai.
With undying love
Aliya Harir is a peace activist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. She is the Convener (Pakistan) of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and also serves as International Board Member for a Chandigarh based NGO Yuvsatta. She tweets @AliyaHarir