LETTER TO MY PAKISTANI FRIEND

Hi yaar!

How’s it going? Sab theek? Aur baaki sab?

You don’t know me – yet. But your Quaid-i-Azam was dadaji to the chap who makes my bed sheets, so we’re practically family friends, nai?

You may have seen me, though. I’m ashamed to admit that I was once part of the jingoistic mob which screams patriotic challenges across Wagah Border every evening. For the sake of our friendship, I hope you weren’t reciprocating on the other side.

I’m writing to you because I’m worried. I recently read about a survey which found that a majority of my countrymen, and yours, hate each other. I’m worried because I know it’s true.

But I don’t hate you, yaar.

I realise that you are no more capable of presenting me with Dawood than I am of gifting you an undiverted Jhelum. What is firdaus bar roo-e zameen in India is the ‘k’ in ‘Pakistan’; neither of us can solve the Kashmir problem, so let’s not celebrate Diwali with N-bombs, okay?

Tough luck with all that political instability, man – I feel for you. Must be difficult accepting that the guys in power aren’t the guys you voted for (or against). And I hope you haven’t lost anyone you know in those horrid blasts that occur every now and then.

Those reports of an alleged dalliance between Hina Rabbani Khar and Bilawal Bhutto did warm the cockles of my Bollywood-romantic heart, though. And Fatima isn’t too bad to look at either.

I learn more about your world every day. Khuda Ke Liye was a gut-wrenching watch. Mohsin Hamid’s novels reflect our mutual disenchantment with irrational religious dogma. An anthology of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poems is the first non-English work I’ve ever read. I doze off every night to the strains of Farida Khanum’s ghazals and am just beginning to discover the greatness of Madam Noor Jehan. The porosity of our cultural borders inspired born-there-bred-here poet Gulzar to write:

‘Aankhon ko visa nahin lagta

Sapnon ki sarhad nahin hoti

Band aankhon se roz main

Sarhad paar chalaa jaata hoon

Milne Mehdi Hassan se.’

My orthopaedician uncle visited your nation – twice – and was charmed by its gracious hospitality. They’ve even relaxed the visa norms now, so let’s not wait until Aditya Chopra makes a Veer-Zara sequel (or we look as ghastly as Shah Rukh Khan) to meet, okay?

I want to visit Lahore some day. I’ve always imagined it as a replica of puraani Dilli, replete with cloistered courtyards, patli galiyaan and great street food. And I really want to meet some Pakistani medical students.

I hope you live in Lahore, yaar.

You’ll visit me here too, won’t you? I’ll take you to Mohammed Ali Road during Ramadan and you’ll tell me the kebabs are just as good as they are back home. I’ll visit Haji Ali Dargah for the first time, with you. And you’re going to love Marine Drive.

We’re not so different, you and I. You’ll see.

Your friend across the border,

Mrigank.

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14 thoughts on “LETTER TO MY PAKISTANI FRIEND

  1. Captivating read, Mrigank. I love ur usage of colloquial hindi…n d occasional usage of urdu is beautiful. It felt lik a khat to a long lost bhaijaan of a bygone era,a period most of us knw bcuz of d late yash chopra n co.Keep writin n if you do get tickets 2 lahore,im coming along !

  2. I am a Pakistani doctor but sadly I am not from Lahore. They say jisnay Lahore nahe dekha uss nay kuch nahe dekha.

    Our family often think (read: dream) of visiting India, but I heard the Visa Policy isn’t that relaxed.

    I love the letter. I love how you write. I love your blog.

    Following you!

  3. Beautifully written. Just wanted to add a few names to the list of gems found across the border, Indians adore: Saadat Hussain Manto, Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan, Faiz, Abida Parveen, Junoon(band) and Shafqat Amanat Ali.

  4. Dr. Mrigank, I absolutely salute your thinking. Many primitive minds here and across the border still hold that enmity and do not want to dissolve the issues. Thank God you think differently!
    both the countries have so much in common. Their origin is the same, the people are also the same!
    I too wish to see Lahore once in my life. I wish both the countries were great friends.

  5. Truly speaking toh m just dump struck…..your flow of writing ……d usage of language and d way you convey your thoughts is just amazing……..kind’a reading all your blogs since an hour now nd trust me m truly amazed…….love d way you write Dr………….!!

    Following you diligently….!!! 🙂

  6. These are the first two lines of a song from a pathetic excuse for a movie, ‘Refugee’ –

    “Panchhi, nadiyaan, pawan ke jhonke, koii sarhad na inhein roke,
    Sarhadein insaanon keliye hain, socho tum ne aur maine kya paaya insaan hoke”

    I know the song is a romantic duet, but I feel the first lines carry a deeper meaning than just a heartfelt exchange between the two lovers. They convey a sense of profound poignancy at the state of affairs between nations with troubled borders.

    The humanity underlying the tone of your letter is more conspicuous in the playful humor that you’ve weaved in so beautifully. Absolutely Love it! I’m sure even the majority of the populations that you claim hate each other on both sides of the border will relate to the views expressed, at some level. They’re human after all!

    I have friends from Pakistan, whom I met as a student in the US and I still keep in touch with all of them. One of them is from Lahore and he said he’d take care of everything if I ever visited the city. Their ‘Mehmaan-nawaazi’ is heartening! I’d love to visit Lahore some time too.

    Anyway, have you watched ‘BOL’? Another brilliant film from the far side of our western border! If you haven’t, watch it right away.

  7. LOVE love love your post. i m a medical student in Lahore, KEMU.. We often think of India .. offourse not in all good goodie ways after a lost cricket match =P but its hard to just dislike normal citizens like you and me for the wrong decisions made by fat head leaders. i just hope you know we cant just hate anyone and kill their citizens for so called Govt. revenge, we have enough problems in studies and daily love life than to plan attacks right? =D just wanna say i love your blog and hope things are good enough ever for you to come and visit Lahore and be my guest =)

  8. Hi Mrigank,

    Loved this post. I feel the post echoes the thoughts of many citizens of both the countries. Hats off to you for this wonderful post. If I were an editor, I would want to publish this in my magazine (of course with your permission), as the post is very touching and I hope it reaches many people.

  9. Dear Mrigank,

    I hope that you will take a little time out to visit http://www.indireads.com. Find the link called ‘Love Across Borders’, and please download and read the free eBook it leads you to. This is an anthology of stories written by Pakistani and Indian authors; authors who are working together at Indireads; authors who are learning about each other with each passing day.

    And, while this post was written for our authors (http://www.indireads.com/blessed-are-the-peacemakers-2/), it mirrors almost everything you just said.

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