Download, share, or listen online to Shuchi Kalra and myself talk about writing ‘One Stupid Comment’ – one of the stories in the Love Across Borders anthology.
A brief excerpt from ‘Remnants of a Rainy Day’. This is a short story published in the ‘Love Across Borders’ anthology.
Romeo, in my short story, An Unlikely Romeo, is based on a young man I met in Vienna, while I was helping my husband, Saachi, film a documentary on human smuggling. The boy—he was little more—we met and interviewed over the space of several visits intrigued me. He had experienced so many horrors and so much rejection ever since he set out to cross continents that he had to cocktail nicotine, whisky and doda (poppy heads) to be able to sleep. Yet, he retained an innocent enthusiasm for life that was infectious—and touching. He stayed on in my head, long after the film was finished and released.
When I was asked to write a story for Indireads’ Love Across Borders anthology, the Vienna boy popped up in my head and refused to go away. I thought of his life and I thought I had to write about the futility of borders. People draw borders, but people cannot be confined within borders. Borders lose meaning when necessity and need draw people together.
My protagonists, Nafisa and Romeo, are underdogs, outcasts, rejects of their families, but they are determined to carry on. It no longer matters to them from across which border help and succor reach them. Survival is all. And in the game of survival, any hand that offers help is welcome.
A brief introduction to Indireads’ anthology, Love Across Borders, which will be released on midnight, August 14th.
Once upon a time, a line was drawn in the sand, and suddenly two nations were born, each creating a new divided history.
Have you ever wondered what the people across the border are like? How they live, what they think, how different from you they are?
Well, we asked the same question of our authors. The result? Twelve, intriguing, insightful and inspiring stories about people making connections, building bridges and yes—even falling in love—across borders.
Our authors gave us Sejal and Saleema, two brides-to-be who meet at the Novelty Emporium where the master craftsman Panditji is creating their wedding dresses. We also meet Anjum, a bride from Pakistan and Vandana’s new neighbor. A bride who settles in better in her new environment than the woman whose home it is.
There is Dilip who, now in his sixties, searches unceasingly for ‘a friend’ on Facebook. And Suresh, who searches for clues online of his lost love from his college days in Karachi’s DJ College.
Another story features two upwardly mobile desis meeting in Boston. Both are far from home, but carry their pride and competitiveness with them. And we even envision a dystopian future in which both countries have become a nuclear wasteland and two youngsters must strive to understand the past and build a new future.
These and many more stories will be available for download from August 14, 2013, exclusively from Indireads’ website, Love Across Borders. Stories of people from India and Pakistan coming together in some way or the other, despite lines drawn in the sand.
One of the most amazing benefits of starting Indireads has been the opportunity to interact and become friends with authors on both sides of the India-Pakistan border.
Talking to them I came to two realizations, first the reinforcement of my belief in how similar we are (after all we are the same people and no line drawn in the sand can change that), and secondly, how little each side knows of the other.
My parents were born in Hyderabad Deccan, and while they moved to Karachi, they still have family there. Aunts, uncles and cousins regularly go across to attend weddings and visit on both sides, and we are all very much one big family. And in my own travels across the world, some of my best friends have been Indians, of all faiths and backgrounds.
Having been privileged to have both family and friends across the border, I feel strongly that it is important for people to begin to connect across this real border, but imagined divide, to see that the person on the other side is reflection of oneself.
If we all just begin to connect, we will see how much we have in common—music, food, colors, clothes and wise sayings—are all part of our shared culture and heritage. That’s what Indireads books celebrate and that is the inspiration for Love Across Borders, our first anthology, a collection of short stories to mark the Independence Days of these two neighboring countries, by teaching us how much we have in common to celebrate.
What are some of the things common across the sub-continent that you enjoy?
Our campaign slogan, ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’ is from the Bible (Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.), with similar references in the Quran (Surah Baqarah 11:15 – Do not make mischief in the earth, they say. Verily, we are in fact peacemakers) and Bhaghvada Gita (II – 62, 63, 65 – Without meditation, where is peace? Without peace, where is happiness?).
As we approach Independence days across the subcontinent, each of us has a reason to enjoy life in our countries. We want to know what those things are. From the flow of torrential rains every monsoon season to the smell of fresh samosas, or the wild beat of the bhangra mix at your cousin’s wedding, these things make us who we are.
So send in a 30 second video clip, telling us what you admire/love/enjoy about living in the subcontinent. The most creative message will be featured in an interwoven video message that will be released on YouTube and on our website.
Mohammed Musthafa Azeez for A Plate of Rice
Neha Puntambekar for In Exile
Both stories, as different as night and day, were strong in language, originality and racked up the votes (considering In Exile was the last story to be released on Indireads, it collected a great deal of votes in a very short span of time). Their individual qualities meant that we could not pass either of them up, so we offer them both our deepest congratulations.
Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan for A Second Chance,
it was a hard, long haul. Up against the likes of Mr. and Mrs. Sampath, and Sowing Seeds, A Second Chance edged ahead on the strength of snappy dialogue and crisp language. Congratulations, Roshan, this win was well-deserved!