Saqiba Khan while telling us about her maternal family living on both sides of the border, said “It’s funny, we live so close yet so far from each other. We never thought a family living just across the border would in actuality feel miles and miles away from us, unable to visit us once in a decade. Thinking about my maamu who got posted in Pakistan in the 1980s and has since been living with his family there only brings bittersweet memories to the surface. Yes, we haven’t met them in 10 years, but trust me when I say we know everything that happens with each other. We go the extra mile, cause that’s what you do in a love so pure and strong - with hints of longingness.
In 2004, Bade Mamu along with his family came to India to spend their holidays. It was the same year when the most iconic movieVeer Zara was released, This was not just a movie but a beautiful representation of a love that existed between India and Pakistan even after the partition. Our Pakistani cousins just fell in love with the movie, they loved it so much that we watched it twice. One dialogue that resonated with us was“Sarhad paar ek aisa shaks hai jo aapke liye apni jaan bhi de sakta hai”, this dialogue doesn't always have a romantic connotation, it resonates equally for families, friendships, and in the love that siblings & cousins have for each other - all separated by just a border. Nevertheless, one of my cousins loved this movie so much that after many years when his daughter was born, he named her Zara. Though he never says this out loud, deep down we all know how much he was in awe of Veer Zara.
One of my cousins loved ‘chicken sixty five’ from the Royal Cafe, Lucknow. It was a tradition to send it for her if anyone was going to Pakistan, when relations were civil between the two countries, and flights still landed in India. Even now whenever we eat this dish, we send her a picture and she reminisces about what she remembers of it.
Our cousins love chikankari, kolhapuri jutis and handcrafted accessories that are made in India. Everytime we visited Delhi, visiting Dilli Haat was a must so that we could buy some traditional handicrafts, jutis and jhumkis for them. Whenever they wore them in Karachi, their friends would go gaga over them. It’s a routine now, we just keep buying and collecting whatever we think they might like so that it's ready whenever any relative or friend is visiting Pakistan.
In the year 2021, my elder brother was set to be married, and even though bade maamu and Raja maamu along with their families were not able to come to India, they did everything that they could from the other side of the border for their most loved nephew. From buying ghararas for bhabhi, to designing bhai’s nikaah attire and getting it stitched, to standing at the Maria B store to buy an exclusive collection suit, and making sure they bought the nikaah pens that I had been pestering them to, the list goes on and on - their love for us is unconditional.
Finally, they sent everything to Dubai to my Appi, who brought it with her when she came to India. Thanks to Whatsapp, we were all connected throughout the wedding. I made sure they were part of the celebrations in every way possible, if not physically then virtually for sure. The group ‘Hamza ki Shaadi’ had everyday’s breakfast photos, the gorgeous packing of nikaah boxes, the decor videos, the rukhsati, whatever fun activities we did in between, literally every little detail was shared so that the helpless feeling of missing out on their beloved nephew’s wedding wasn’t too strong. Nevertheless this whatsapp group became a tradition now, because soon after bhai’s nikaah, towards the end of the year one of our cousins was getting married in Karachi, this time it was the other way round, they made sure that we were all involved in the wedding. From buying Banarasi sarees from Nalli for bhabhi to sending gifts to bhai, we made sure everything reached them before the wedding. Thanks to internet, with just a click we were virtually there :’)
By Saqiba Khan