ByÂ Smriti Mahale:
Love Across Borders is a warm anthology of twelve short stories by both Indian and Pakistani writers, about love, friendship, memories and loss, very much in each heart of an Indian or Pakistani during the partition era. Each story is a noble attempt to cherish the cultures of both the nations, to bask oneself in the pride of national integrity and to look beyond the man made boundaries.Â The book published by the acclaimed Indireads, edited by Naheed Hassan and Sabahat Muhammad, is the first of its kinds of a humble initiative to create an anodyne start for the nations that have trembled on the rocks of war and separation; for once the stories from both the nations have been spilt in black and not in red!
“That 70s Babe” by Mamun Adil
The story about a young man madly in love with a very well known celebrity in the Indian Film industry brings out a memoir about the unconditional love irrespective of social obligations. The story captures the spirit of youth and the eternal love for Indian cinema by a Pakistani.
“Serendipity” by Yamini Vasudevan
A delightful read about a romantic rendezvous between two people, from different cultures, from different nations! The characters of Neha and Riyaz are crisp and what surprises the reader is the climax that swings on the age old impression Indians seem to have. The narration is crisp and the state of an ‘undecided mind‘ is beautifully expressed by the author.
“One Stupid Comment” by Shuchi Kalra & Sabahat Muhammad
The story is narrated with a time swing in the year 2031. The harsh repercussions of war between the two nations, the dilemma of the posterity, the futile attempts of peace makers of both the countries, the dream of the young blood for unity and peace, and a buried treaty holding secrets to peace are the essence of the story. The sensitivity of the residents of both the countries (referred as tribes) about the way how a minor comment can spark a raging fire of war seems synonymous with the current scenario.
“Anjum” —by Andy Paula
“Anjum” is a pleasant tale of two women,Â AnjumÂ from Pakistan & VandanaÂ from India who find each other as timeless comrades; from being neighbours to best of friends. The initial inhibitions of Vandana to bond with a woman from a country at war, overcoming the same with an over whelming gratitude towards Anjum for the maturity she projects, the deeper understanding of womanhood and the overlapping of cultural differences delight the readers.
The contrast between the two women is as diverse as the contrast of the two nations, yet the timeless bond they create is message of the tale.
“Dressed to kill” — by Parul Tyagi
A beautifully penned story about the two brides to be —Sejal and Saleema certainly brings a smile. When the long cherished dreams of both the brides regarding their wedding lehenga from the renowned shop of Chandni Chowk is about to unfold, one of them is disappointed with a harsh quirk of fate. While the other, understands her turmoil and comes to her rescue with her willing sacrifice. While one is the reason for another’s happiness , the other is ever grateful for the kind gesture from an unknown , that too from a different nation! The story ends with the two girls branding themselves as ‘Soul sisters’!
“Best Friends Forever”- by Shweta Ganesh Kumar & Naheed Hassan
Tara and Saira are childhood friends who lose connections after Tara moves into India. They find each other again, through the social media and try hard to reconnect and recreate the comfort zone they always felt in each other’s company. The change in circumstances swaps their dreams and both of them try to find each other’s dreams in another’s realities. The importance of maintaining healthy relationships irrespective of distance and disaster is the message from the author.
“Lost and Found”- by Nidhi Shendurnikar Tere
Another story about the vital role social media plays in reconnecting long lost friends across the world! The plot is quite predictable of how Dilip and Pervez find each other through Facebook and relive their days of youth spent in the United Nations
“Twelve Months”- by Pervin Saket
The widow of Salim Munira is on her fifth visit to India after her husband’s death. She finds this as the only way to reconnect to him, through his family and his home at Hyderabad. Though she is looked down upon from her in-laws and made the safe custody of their driver, Shambu, the love for her dead husband gives her strength to bear it all. Shambu on the other hand is enraptured by the simplicity and will of the woman from the other side of the border and wants to liberate her from the unnecessary suffering she has thrown herself into.
An Unlikely Romeo– by M M George
Mimmy Jain under the pen name of MM George spins a tale of independence and destined love with the characters of Nafisa and Romeo. Nafisa is a young bride, tricked into marriage. She is given the place of a cook in her husband’s flourishing food business . Circumstances help her break from the clutches of cruelty and she starts a life of her own with Romeo for support. As she discovers the love and care the man shows for her, and the harsh circumstances he has come from, she decides to help him and bond with him forever.
The Long Interval-by Zafar Junejo
Again the stereo typed college romance, reunited with the power of love for social media. Being the third story connected to the social media, the plot seems quite predictable and leaves the reader with nothing to smile about.
The Old Willow– by Adiana Ray
Here comes the interesting tale of Rocky and Imran who pick up a fight in a restaurant about the greatness and superiority of their nation’s forefront in world cinema, sports and art. While each of them tries his witty sarcasm on another to pull the other down, an intrusion from an American unites them into garlanding their argument into one of mutual admiration.
Remnants of a Rainy Day– by Mamun Adil
The author remembers a one of a kind meeting he had with an Indian couple who come home to buy his television set as he packs his bags to leave to his home country after being home sick for long. The warmth of the couple, the immediate bonding the couple creates on coming to know that they belong to the same part of the world , the change of first impression of disgust into one of respect and sympathy is the essence of the whole story, The memory of the meeting is still alive in the umbrella , the couple leaves behind in the author’s home on that rainy day.
All in the all, the stories leave behind a feeling of warmth and pride, some of them disappoint with similar plots. The characters connect easily with the common crowd of the two nations, and the cultural background is harmoniously painted across all the stories. With words of praise from well known personalities from both the nations, the attempt to heal with art, certainly touches the heart.
‘What is the worth
Of pen and paper?
If not used to paint smiles
Across grieving hearts!”
The book is available for free download here