Category Archives: Stories of Friendship
“I find our friendship dangerous…as it is challenging the constructed hatred”: Story of Devika Mittal (India) and Warda Irum (Pakistan)
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indo-pak Border, Devika Mittal from Delhi, India shares about her bond with Warda Irum from Islamabad, Pakistan on the occasion of Warda’s birthday today.
I came across Warda when she sent a greeting to Indians on Independence Day. I was touched by her message which was full of positivity and hope to begin anew. Weaved in through a beautiful poetry, it talked about the thorny border which exists not only physically and pains us but which is also drawn in our minds and hearts. We can only undo the past of hatred by realizing and diminishing the thorny border that exists in our minds. I was touched by her beautifully written and thought-provoking poem and connected with her through facebook.
I continued to learn through her posts that would challenge constructed hatred, misogyny, bigotry and pseudo nationalism that directs us to accept the evils, gloss over them when they actually stand against the spirit of the vision of the national leaders. Her posts were a source of information about a side of Pakistan that we hardly ever come across and recognize. They also taught how we are really the same people as her posts were as relevant to Pakistan as for the situation in India. Besides the posts, whenever I interacted with Warda, I found her as amazing as her thoughts. Whenever I talk to her, I feel as if I am talking to an old friend, to someone I know for long and too much, and with whom I am so comfortable. She is a wonderful person, amazingly friendly and sweet.
Like my other close friends in Pakistan, I hardly remember her identity as a “Pakistani”. Infact, our friendship is quite dangerous as it is challenging the stereotypes, the constructed notions. Warda is one big challenge to the idea of Pakistan as our “enemy country”, to the idea of Pakistan as a country which is completely opposite and opposing. The only time I am reminded of her identity is when I think of the distance between us, of the “thorny border” that physically exists.
On her birthday today, I hope that I am able to meet her in person on this or that side of the mere physical border this year…
If you have a story to share, send it at email@example.com
“Summiya was the only friendly face that welcomed me in class”: Story of two school friends Ketki (India) and Summiya (Pakistan)
As part of our initiative to share stories of friendship beyond the Indopak Border, we share the story of two school friends from India and Pakistan – Ketki Kanitkar and Summiya Nizamuddin and how their friendship has survived the ravages of time and in this case, political problems between the two countries.
Ketki Kanitkar (India):
“Summiya was the only friendly face that welcomed me to my new class in standard 7 at Ideal Indian School Doha in 1994. We seemed to hit it off instantly since then.
Our conversations as teens were really all about asking inquisitive questions about each other’s traditions, cultures, customs and clothes. After high school, I left for college to Pune, and Summiya went to Medical School in Karachi. We met again in 2006 after I got married and came to Karachi for a visit. Our conversations later progressed to how our lives changed, how countries were playing dirty politics, and how it is the people who suffer. We never had any clash. Our countries had been at loggerheads since forever but that really made no difference to us, as our friendship went way beyond borders. Whatever hardships everyday people face in both countries are the same on a daily basis. We were sympathetic towards the mis-governance in our respective countries; we never disrespected each other’s cultures, faiths or even traditions, and in fact had a deep interest to know more and be a part of each other’s celebrations.”
Summiya Nizamuddin (Pakistan):
“We must have been 12 years old. Ketki had moved to Qatar from India and joined my school. She sat next to me on her first day at school. We have been together ever since. We practically grew up together through those awkward teen years, and though we are in different countries now, we still keep in touch
We talk about what best friends would usually talk about. Initially it was about school and how we hated math; growing up issues, things at home; clothes and music. Later it was about grown-up issues such as getting a job, getting married, and in-laws’ issues! Alhamdullah in all the time we have known each other, there has never been a clash. Never. What really mattered was that we were together and we were there for each other at that point in time.
A clash on the border never brought up a clash between us, none whatsoever. As I said, the fact that we were together was more important. It did not matter if the two governments could not handle issues amongst themselves. Things were working fine for us.”
They meet after 68 years, with help of a young NRI: Story of Wazir Memon (Pakistan) and Tikamdas Punjabi (India)
As part of our initiative to share stories of friendship beyond the Indopak Border, we share the story of Razin Karu, an NRI who helped unite two childhood friends Mr. Wazir Memon (Pakistan) and Mr. Tikamdas Punjabi (India) who were separated by partition.
“Sometimes, in our lives there occurs an event that changes our lives forever.” – Razin
Razin, an NRI from Gujarat, lives in the US. The event that changed his life is a story that would fill the hearts of hopefuls of Indo-Pak peace and friendship with warmth. Razin found a wonderful family friend in one of his neighbours, Mr. Wazir Memon, whom he fondly calls Wazir Chacha, and who is originally from Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan. Having the opportunity to befriend someone from across the border is rare in itself, but Razin stumbled upon a chance to be part of something more significant and special – something that would soon be added to the list of countless inspiring, touching stories involving the beautiful people of India and Pakistan.
Razin and Wazir ji, who would go for their Friday prayers together, were once having a conversation during which the latter spoke about his childhood friend, Tikamdas Punjabi, who migrated to India after the partition. He was reminiscing about this friend, whom he was very close to, wishing he would get to see him in person again. Little did he know that social media today is a place where miracles happen, and he was going to be a part of one.
One day, as Razin was browsing Facebook, and was about to leave a comment on a picture, he noticed another comment, the author of which bore the same name as Wazir Chacha’s childhood friend. And as luck would have it, when Razin wrote to him, he realized it was indeed the same Tikamdas Punjabi! They exchanged contact details and he wasted no time in telling Wazir ji about having found the whereabouts of his dear friend, and needless to say, he was overjoyed.
Tikamdas ji has now invited Wazir ji to visit him in India, and the latter has graciously accepted the invitation, in the hope that being an American citizen will allow him easier access into India! Razin is now excited about witnessing their reunion in person, perhaps as a sweet reward for having brought these two old friends in contact after 68 years!
This story has been compiled by Madhulika Narasimhan. If you have a story to share, send it at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our friendship helped us to understand the insane conflict: Story of Ali (India) and Fozia (Pakistan)
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indopak Border, Ali Abbas from Hyderabad, India shared about his friend Fozia Akhtar from Islamabad, Pakistan:
“We had met during Global Power Shift conference in 2013 and became friends. It has been 2 years of our friendship now and we cherish the bond that we share. While friendship makes one a better person, our friendship has also helped us to understand the insane conflict. We feel that our friendship has sustained not just because of our common interests or the similarities that Indians and Pakistanis have but because it has enabled us to think about the conflict that exists. It has given us the platform to realize, to seek for ourselves the truth of the constructed borders. It has enabled us to realize the value and inspire us to work for peace, for humanity.
Our friendship has made us realize that we are not just similar in terms of our language, food, culture, basic challenges but also in our desire for peace and friendship. However, what we have in common is also a biased and TRP obsessed media. On both sides, the TRP-obsessed media tries to show the other nation as culprit, villain or traditional enemy even without waiting for confirmed reports or truth. But this does not deter us as we both realize that peace and friendship are the only sane way forward. We cannot progress without peace with our neighbor. It is, as Fozia rightly said once, the needs of the average people of both countries would only get fulfilled when they share love and not arms.”
If you have a story to share, send it at email@example.com
“I have a mentor across the border”: Story of Hussain Kamal (Pakistan) and Chandra Swati (India)
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indopak Border, Hussain Kamal from Pakistan shared about his friend Chandra Swati from India:
“I have a friend, rather a mentor, across the border, whose name is Chandra Swati. She is an Assistant Professor of English literature at the Delhi University. It is said that a good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning. So, i am proud to be her disciple . Although she hasn’t taught me anything by delivering lectures, but i learned many things from her through text messages. She corrects my sentences if I make any mistake while chatting. She is very kind. Our friendship is a symbol of true affection between a teacher and a student. I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society, and in creating a bond across the border, than any other profession. God bless you Ma’am Chandra Swati. I am proud of you! Danyewaaad”
Now, here are my teacher’s views on me: “Well, we often we blame social networking sites like Facebook for wasting a lot of our time! But often, this thing called Facebook can be a sweet thing. It makes u meet friends across borders without any political hassles. Here I have a cute little friend- Hussain. He is from Pakistan. Pakistan , a country we aren’t on good terms with on the political front. But across the border, people are the same- like you and me. Same emotions, same curiosity. By the way, Hussain is not that young after all, yes, cute he is. He is a student of English literature. What more did I want, to be able to connect with him. In addition, he is an awesome stand-up comedian. I saw some of his videos. He is really funny and witty, has a good voice and can really make people laugh. He is what we say – ‘hasmukh’ in Hindi, which means he has a pleasing face, one look at him and you are all smiles. Good thing is he doesn’t mind me correcting his grammar every now and then.That shows he is a good student. I hope and believe that he is a good human as well. My best wishes are with him.”
Hope we have a great friendship in the times to come.
If you have a story to share, send it at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Our Friendship gives me Hope”: Story of Warda Irum (Pakistan) and Devika Mittal (India)
Spirituality connected Sahir Hemnani (Pakistan) and Chetna Vashist (India)
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indopak Border, Sahir from Tharparkar, Pakistan has sent this story about his bond with Chetna Vashisht from Delhi, India. He writes,
“I am from Tharparkar, Pakistan. I used to listen to the famous BK Shivani, an Indian spiritual leader and inspirational speaker. On facebook, I found her page. On this page, I found Chetna who would be very active on the page. We connected because of the common spiritual bond that we share.
It has been three years of our friendship now. She taught me the way of living. I consider her to be my sister across the ‘border’.
In these 60 years, we have only seen clashes. What good has it done? Let’s give a chance to peace now.”
Separated by Partition, they passed on their friendship as inheritance: Story of Ch Barkat Ali (Pakistan) and Sardar Ishar Singh (India)
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indopak Border, Mr. Davinder Paul Singh from Amritsar, India shared the story of his grandfather and his friend:
Before the Indo-Pak partition, there was a small village in the district of Gurdaspur, Punjab – known as Neewan Dhakala – situated some 5-6 miles from the proposed border. Among its 350-400 Hindu, Sikh & Muslim population, lived a family of Chaudhry Barkat Ali, who was Nambardaar of the Muslim population. He was basically a farmer who also had some land holdings, and used to keep some buffaloes at home as well- for milk, ghee etc. He was a tall man, with a well built body & was good natured.
The Sikh Nambardaar of the village was Sardar Ishar Singh who was a great friend of Ch. Barkat Ali. Even their children used to visit each others’ homes. There was a lot of intimacy between these two families and thus food items, milk products etc. were also exchanged regularly.
When the unfortunate storm of the partition started blowing, Ch. Barkat Ali, like all other Muslims, decided to cross over to their newly created country. Although the Muslim people were their very dear friends and a part of the lives of the residents of Neewan Dhakala village, yet it was not considered wise and justified by their Indian friends to stop them from crossing over to the international boundary, to their new dreamland.
So Sardar Ishar Singh, who alone at that time had a licensed revolver in that area, provided protection to them till they reached the border. This protection was required as bad elements had become active and had started snatching cash, jewellery, household goods and even young girls from the helpless departing Muslim families.
There is a small tributary (named Nomani) of river Ravi between the village of Neewan Dhakala and the Pakistan border which incidentally was in full spate due to the monsoon rains during that time of the year. Chaudhry Barkat Ali’s family, along with all other departing Muslim families of the vicinity, could not cross this rivulet for three days and for all that time Sardar Ishar Singh stayed there, along with those grief-stricken families, protecting them from attacking marauders and providing them succor, moral support & importantly, home cooked meals which were brought from the village Neewan Dhekala, for these folks, twice every day.
After the third day, the river water receded and all these Muslim families decided to take a risk and finally crossed over to the country of their dreams. The family of Chaudhry Barkat Ali reached a town called Samundri (near the present city of Faisalabad) and settled down there.
Both the families remained in touch with each other through letters, and around 1955, Sardar Ishar Singh visited Pakistan, with a jatha of Sikh Pilgrims, to visit the Sikh Gurudwaras. Chaudhry Barkat Ali was informed beforehand, by post, about this visit and he, along with other ex villagers of Neewan Dhakala (now settled in Samundri, Pakistan) reached Nankana Sahib Gurudwara and there, both the dear friends met each other, for the first and last time, after the partition of Hindustan (into India and Pakistan).
One of the daughters of Ch. Barkat Ali got married & settled in Faisalabad city. Further she had two daughters and one of her daughters got married to a Govt. Officer, in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
Though both the old friends are no more now, yet their family members used to talk about their relationship, and finally in 1984, the Faisalabad based Saabran Bibi, (daughter of Ch. Barkat Ali) took the initiative and asked her son Saleem to write a letter to Sardar Ishar Singh. By the time the letter reached him, he was no more and his son Manmohan Singh received the letter, asked an Urdu literate person to translate the same, replied to it and then sent the same to his nephew in Amritsar, to carry on the renewed relationship.
After the exchange of one or two letters, the link remained cut off (courtesy Postal Censorship and other reasons beyond the control of ordinary innocent citizens of these two countries) and finally after 10 years, a letter was sent to Mr. Saleem through Europe which reached him finally and an unbreakable link was established again.
In 1999, Mr. Saleem got married and invited the nephew of Manmohan Singh to witness his marriage. Arranging the Pakistani visa was a big problem and thus the Indian invitees could not attend Saleem’s wedding well in time, yet they reached his place a few days later and renewed the relationship which their grandparents/forefathers had started some 60 years ago.
Saleem’s Islamabad based sister was also waiting for the Indian Invitees but unfortunately they could not go there due to time shortage & their indisposition. Her wish was fulfilled when the nephew of Manmohan Singh visited them in 2005 and met all of their family members including their 2 very sweet Doctor daughters.
Infact on the marriage of their elder daughter Dr. Nimra (solemnised with Surgeon Major Faran Kiani of Abbottabad), the Indian relations reached well in time and mashallah performed all the rituals of an uncle / aunt. That was the occasion when most of their Pakistani / overseas relatives were also met and thus the relationships were further strengthened.
Now with the Grace of Allah & Waheguru, the bonding between both these families (of Indo-Pak) is extremely strong and is increasing day by day as they believe in true human relationships which is even above blood relations, provided one understands it, believes in it and then lives it out correctly.
Present Day Scenario
1. Village Neewan Dhakala is still there but the children of Sardar Ishar Singh are settled in different cities (Jammu, Pathankot, Mohali & London ) though they still have their land holdings & 2 houses there.
2. The nephew of Manmohan Singh (and grandson of Sardar Ishar Singh ji) is Mr. D.P.Singh who is sharing this story now, with you.
3. Dr.(Mrs.) Ummehani and Dr. (Mrs.) Nimra Faran are the great granddaughters of Chaudhry Barkat Ali.
4. Saabran Bibi expired about 3 years ago, at Faisalabad.
5. Dr. Ummehani got married too (to a software Engineer, Kashif Khan of Rawalpindi) on 20-10-2012.
Story of Junaid (India) and Waqas (Pakistan): They were just a few feet away…
As part of our call to share about their friend(s) beyond the Indopak Border, Muhammad Waqas from Gujrat, Pakistan shared the story of his friendship with Junaid T Golandaz of Mumbai, India:
“About a year ago I happened to meet Junaid T Golandaz who is from Mumbai, India, through a weather forum – as we both are weather lovers.Through this forum our friendship developed and with the passage of time, it turned into a strong bond between us. It has been almost one year, and we have come to become each other’s best friend ever. However, and most importantly, we wanted to meet each other in any way and nature gave us a chance, since Junaid was coming on a trip to north India: Chandigarh-Dharamshala-Manali-Amritsar. His last stop was Amritsar where he was to attend the flag ceremony at the Wagah Border.
It was the 3rd of Janaury 2015, and we made a plan to at least see each other at the Wagah border, though it is really very difficult to find someone amongst hundreds of people across the border line. I went to Lahore and he came from Amritsar. It was a foggy day with nil sunshine, so the overall visibility was very low. Anyhow, the ceremony started and time was just running out. We were unable to find each other and there was no contact between us as mobile networks were jammed in the limited area of Wagah. When the ceremony ended and we were asked to leave the place, I suddenly saw Junaid on other side of the border who was also searching for me here and there frantically. Oh my God, I can’t explain the feelings of seeing your best friend so closely at that time. I somehow got his attention, and we finally saw each other. 🙂 We requested the soldiers at the border to let us meet but in vain. Anyhow, they allowed us to go close to the border gates, and we did. There was hardly a distance of seven-eight feet between us. It was really amazing to talk to and see my best friend so closely, but unfortunately we felt bound due to the line of the border 😦
And now we have planned to meet soon in another country- maybe Saudi or any other Gulf country. To sum it up, I found a friend who is extremely trustworthy; he has very good habits, which I have never found in anyone else to this day; learned many things from him; and I just pray for my friend to get each and every desire of his fulfilled. May he live a long, healthy and prosperous life. Ameen 🙂