July 12th, 2016
“It was the summer of year 1999. Suddenly I heard that a war took place in Kashmir. Being a school child , the word “War ” meant nuclear weapons to me as I only knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People used to discuss about the probable missiles which could end the war. Kargil was burning and so was the country. I remember that almost everyday there were stories of families of martyr. Every newspaper, radio and TV was presenting a kind of live documentary of war.
While it was clear that we were going to win the war, the news of lives lost made me furious and helpless. I couldn’t resist tears when I used to read stories of Martyrs like Mr. Ahuja who had a small kid, and so many brave hearts who sacrificed their lives. So the image of Pakistan in my mind was like a very dangerous and rude neighbour.
In July 2015, I was in Dubai with my 4-yr-old son. While I was enjoying ” Omm Ali” my son started exploring the area. Soon a kind hearted waiter won his heart and my son started playing with him. After 10-15 min, I could hear the loud laughter of my son and I was amazed to see that both the guard and the waiter were playing with him as if they were also kids.
The guard was very good looking , gentle and very fluent in Hindi.
“Aap kahan se hain (where are you from)? ” I asked.
“Punjab”, He told and asked the same.
“Bihar/Delhi, Lekin aap Punjab ke nahin lagte ! your accent is very different and its more like Lucknow.””I was curious. as saying “Aap kahan se hain instead of “Aap kidhar se ho ” itself describes the probable place where he could belong .
” Main Pakistan wale Punjab se hoon” he said.
” Excuse me ” I wanted to confirm again.
” Pakistani , Main Pakistan se hoon” he replied calmly.
I can’t express the actual me at that time. It was as if I was in front of an enemy who was responsible for all the lives lost, who keeps doing terrorist activities blah blah” . For 10 min , there was pin drop silence. My son was busy with another new friend of his.
That Pakistani guy understood my puzzled situation. He calmly started narrating some festive events which he missed being far from his country. I had no clue how to react. In fact the image of that guy suddenly changed my mind. He was very polite but of no use to me. I came back to my room and kept thinking. – that Pakistani’s behavior was exactly similar to us. He was also polite and he also missed his family. He cared for my child and my child was as friendly with him as he was with my relatives. He was far away from his country to earn for his family. He missed his grand mother when there was any festival. He also dreamt of a perfect and peaceful life.
What was wrong then?”
Submitted By – Pragya Kashyap
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