The following is a write-up of mine which I typed in 2006…
What do a Hindu student from India and a Muslim worker from Pakistan, both of whom in Malaysia presently, have in common? - Common opinion on human values.
I, Naveen Raju, study in a college in Seremban (65kms from the capital Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia and I come all the way from Coimbatore, India. I work part time in a shop where Naseer Ahmed, who hails from Chiniot, Faizalabad - Pakistan, also works.
I can remember well, when, on an autumn evening, we became acquainted on the very first day we met in this shop. At first, it was a casual self-introduction which slowly lumbered up to become close friendship. I call him “bhaiya” (elder brother) and he too calls me back as “bhaiya” - even though I am more than 20 years younger than him. In the beginning, I barely managed to communicate with him since I knew a little Hindi and his way of communication was Punjabi and Urdu - the languages that mostly resemble Hindi. To mention, I come from India where Hindi is widely spoken, whereas, I mostly speak Tamil and Kannada at home.
Now, I have picked up a lot of Hindi words and amassed a whole lot of ways to express my thoughts in that language, courtesy – my relentless pursuit to communicate well with this Pakistani bhaiya and, of course, the Hindi films which I watch on many occasions. He, also a big fan of Bollywood Hindi movies, has a small collection of them which we often watch in leisure.
By observing the way he works, I learnt a lesson or two. I could imbibe that he works hard to send money to support his wife and three kids in Faizalabad. He is very thrift and stretches every cent of money as far as it goes that, sometimes, he even starves himself to save money.
All my previously held beliefs about Pakistan faded away because of my friendship with this man. I developed a kind of empathy upon this Punjabi man from Faizalabad, Punjab - Pakistan and, to recall, it was surprising that our countries, India and Pakistan, have fought three bitter wars against each other.
Some times, he cooks food by himself and heartily invites me to his dinner. He makes such tantalizing Pakistani (or Indian, of course!) rotis coupled with keema or chicken, or mixed vegetable sabjis on some occasions. On some days, I buy him food from restaurants. I came to know a lot about Pakistan and its people through him. We exchange jokes and a lot of stories about each other’s cultures.
Alright, I am an Indian and he is a Pakistani.
Any third person would uncontrollably get curious and wonder - What about Kashmir?
Whenever this name comes in our long conversation, we suddenly become cautious and pause for a while not to hurt each other’s attitude. Even when others mock us up saying that India and Pakistan are eternal rivals and how could we ever get along well as close friends. We just reply that we are brothers who have some little fights against each other at times.
I will go back to India in a couple of months once my studies finish; but my time spent with this Pakistani bhaiya will be an enduring memory etched in my soul which would augur well with the quote “remembrances embellish life.” This bhaiya will go a long way in keeping me reminded forever that the spirit of humanity will spontaneously and eventually diffuse into humanity’s hearts and emerge victorious in a world where people are divided by differences in their minds.
To many, a student like me speaking about forging India-Pakistan friendship might sound like a kid talking about quantum physics. I don’t think so, and I strongly believe only the youth’s mind can be molded easily.
When we converse, we express thoughts like how united were we before 1947 (before the India/Pakistan partition) and why in the world should we have a difference in opinions against each other later on? We have so many similarities – we speak similar languages, have unique art and music, dress alike, we have a cuisine that is same and we were one family before we became neighbors.
Then how in the world did we ever let our paltry differences outweigh our ubiquitous similarities?
Naseer Bhaiya and I unanimously agree that we have our common enemies in various manifestations like poverty, illiteracy, economic and scientific backwardness and much more…
Let’s fight these common enemies…
And not each other…
In this flat world of globalization, the day is approaching fast when people will realize that…
People are more important than policies; and that the spirit of humanity will rule… eventually.