My maternal grandmother’s family used to live in Lahore but she never really talked about her life there; so growing up, my idea of Pakistan was what I read in the newspapers or saw on TV. Then I went to live abroad and for the first time met Pakistani families. Surprise! Surprise! They were just like us. We looked so much alike that non South Asians couldn’t even tell us apart. We spoke the same language. We enjoyed the same food. We saw the same Bollywood pot-boilers, listened to the same music. We had the same family values and shared similar dreams for the future of our children. Yes, we did not share a religion but that didn’t matter. It did not even come up once among us. We did talk of the differences in our cultures and there were some heated discussions but it remained right there and did not lead to bad feelings and broken relationships. We ate together and our children played together.
I wanted to bring this experience out in my writing. When we did not have all the media hype and nuances around us we could get past our negative affect and looked at each other as friends. There is a lot that divides us but there is so much more in common. I wanted to show the human side of our neighbor, far from the politics and warlike reports that we are wont to hear. An Independence Day should be about the people of that country, so should it be for both our countries. It should be about ‘US’.
Adiana Ray, India