3rd May 1986
A girl is born to a banker in Hyderabad. She is the focus of everyone's attention. The Cynosure of all eyes. In times when many were still talking about the ill-fate of bearing a girl child, this girl was welcomed like a princess. A lot of hype was placed on her arrival into this world. Her Grandmother was probably the most excited being on this earth. She thought that this little girl would do wonders. She thought this little girl was the promise of the future..she thought a lot...
A boy is born in Karachi. He is as much a prince of his household. Born into priviledged surroundings, his family is sure he would some day be an academician and an amazing human being. His family has deep rooted family values and hopes that he will carry on the family tradition. Respect is what his family commands from others and respect is what they expect from him... he is their future...
Everyone is busy in their lives. The girl is on course to fulfiling her dreams and that of her dear ones. She is striving to find a meaning to her life, passing through the trials and tribulations of adoloscence, academics, of family, of failed attempts at love. She is full of hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day. The boy is intent on making his family happy too. He is doing well academically, showing the promise of a bright and secure future - just what his family wanted. He is a down to earth being, someone who has immense faith in the human spirit and its goodness.
Technology can do wonders. One day, 20 years on, their paths cross. A chance meet online brings together two diverse beings, born on the same day, on lands separated by borders. They exchange their views on their motherlands , their lives next and then rest of the "normal" talk (read : Movies, Music, Sports). One chat session after another, they realise that life is similar for them in more than one ways. He has his relatives living in her city. They inspire each other, and wonder together that why do people fight when in fact they are so similar. They cannot understand hatred. All they understand now and believe in, is their friendship. Together, they think they are capable of uniting the two nations -- He Quips "One day Shahrukh Khan can act in our movies with our actors and our directors and our actors will try their best to leave their mark in Mumbai".
History, Geography, Politics, Movies, Music....nothing is spared in their talks. She wants to visit Pakistan and watch the splenour of the beautiful valleys he talks about. She wants to taste the amazing food he talks about. He wants to visit India and visit the Taj Mahal, Goa and other popular destinations -- of course, he wants to come to Mumbai and hopes to catch a glimpse of his favourite Shahrukh Khan. Its a beautiful friendship -- where they have immense respect for one another, their culture and they are willing to listen to one another without being judgemental.
One day he gives her an exciting news. "I'm visiting my relatives in your city. I hope if its not too much trouble for you, can we meet?". She is very excited. She gives him her contact number, without batting an eyelid. She does not think it would do any harm. A few days pass and one day she recieves a call from an unknown number.
"It's me. Do you remember me? I'm in your city. Gosh I am so excited being here. This is the first time we are talkin to each other and your voice is exactly how I had thought of in my mind". She is amused and excited. He doesnt talk about meeting yet. He briefs her about the places he's visited, the number of movies he's seen in a multiplex. He turns into a sort of movie critic with his narration of the movies and their plots. This is the first time she realises the extent of his love for movies. And she realises, their taste in movies are pretty similar.
Time passes by, they talk on a daily basis. He is usually in a cheerful mood. He is amazed by the warmth he has recieved by people here. He is happy. One day, there are obvious signs of strain. He has an encounter with people who try to belittle him. They speak to him as if he is the most loathsome creature from an uncivilised nation. He is hurt. He cannot see his identity tarnished. He cannot bear the bad things being spoken about his motherland. He listens quietly. He does not tell them anything. He has been taught to respect a host - and he does not wish to offend his hosts by retorting back. He is calm on the outside, but inside, he is screaming.
He talks to her the next morning. He tells her what happened. She tries to console him. But he is hurt way too much. He has been branded a terrorist. No matter what she says, the hurt just doesnt seem to go away. He wants to go back home. He asks her if she'd like to meet. She says Yes.
She informs her family of her plans to meet him. Her family is always aware of what she does and whom she meets. This is no different. She does not view him differently. She wants to meet him like she meets any other friend of hers. Her family is not ready. They think meeting him will land her in trouble. She is hurt by the fact that her family can think this way. She is fuming mad at her parents for being so narrow minded. When she cools down, she realises that they are saying this because of they do not wish anything untoward to happen to her. After all, she was the one who had told her family that he is required to report to police every few days as part of their visitation requirements. Her family is very skeptical and now she is in two minds.
She keeps post-poning her plans. They talk often and everytime he asks her, she lies about an urgent work or something else. Days pass by and she is unable to decide what to do. He keeps telling her that he will be leaving shortly. She wants to meet him before he leaves but the dilemma of hurting her family keeps her from taking any further action.
One day he talks to her. He tells her about the fact that he understands why she is unable to meet him. He says it is natural for parents to be worried and it would be better if we dont meet. He tells her that she has taught him a million things, has been a really good friend of his and he will always treasure knowing her. He tells her that he knows her well enough without meeting, so it does not matter if we meet or dont. He does not want her to think too much. She feels a bit relieved and also, a bit disappointed at the fact that she cannot keep her promise she made to him.
His phone is continually switched off after that. She tries for a few days, leaves him messages online but no response. She thinks he has gone away and will probably contact in a few days. And he does. One day her cell phone beeps and that familiar name appears in her inbox: "I'm leaving in about half hour for my country. Its been really nice visiting here. Although there were some bad memories, I'm only taking away all the happy ones and the good experiences I had here. Cant wait to share them with my friends there. I hope I was not too much trouble for you. I'm sorry if I hurt you in anyway. You have been a good friend and I ask allah to keep you happy forever. I hope you forgive me for any trouble I caused unknowingly or knowingly"
She tries to call him back but his phone is in the switch off mode again. She tries a while and finally realises that he wont talk again. She knows he's gone.
In the days that follow, she writes to him many times. She enquires about his family, about him and about how his studies are going on. After many days, he responds, and he writes her some of the best things she's ever heard. It moves her to tears that there can be some beings as wonderful as him. And yet, some cynics can only brand them as fundamentalists.
That letter is the last conversation they have. It binds them forever as friends, even after that fact that they both know they will never have another conversation for the longest of time. It does not sadden either of them. They are hopeful that life will move on beautifully. Whenever she reads a movie review, She thinks about the guy who lives across the border. She hopes that one day, there would be a chance meeting... hopes that one day these man made borders will be resolved, across the landscape and across our hearts. And that the world will be as beautiful a place as he painted it out to her.