An Indian’s Open Letter To A Pakistani: ‘We Need To Talk Bhai’

Posted by Sagar Papneja in Society
August 15, 2017


Hope you are doing great.

As you just celebrated your 71st Independence Day, I want to address a lot of thoughts which have been running in my mind. A lot of unanswered questions which have kept me awake at nights. This letter is to try and reach out to your heart as my own, as brothers whose existence have been denied by our parents but inside our hearts, we know we still are brothers

In my formative years, I had heard all the stories from bauji (my grandfather) about his childhood. He was born in Lyallpur, which is now known as Faisalabad in Pakistan. My forefathers had businesses there but most of them were hakims. Bauji told me about the life there, about the house they lived in, the freedom struggles, about the various meetings they had with leaders, about the struggles of this day that year, about losing everything in life when someone decided to separate a family in two. Till his last breath, in January 2010, he dreamt of going back there and he practised hikmat all his life, distributing medicines for free. I guess that’s what kept him tied to his roots in Lyallpur. I have heard his memories. I have felt his memories and I have visualised his memories but all this isn’t enough to keep me away from the dream of visiting the places he contently talked about.

Then comes the reality. Our parents decide if we as brothers can meet or not. I have interacted with some people across our border and it did not feel alien to me. It did not feel as if I was talking to a foreigner. It felt like family, a happy family.

We are just a family which is separated by a fence in its own home because of a third party who envied our blood relation and had ulterior motives. I don’t expect our parents to break the fence, it’s on us. We need to talk bhai. We have wasted enough generations in animosity, so much that we don’t even remember where it all started. Those days are history; those moments are just in our textbooks. We have got a meagre number of citizens who even remember it clearly from a first person perspective. There seems no logical reason for us to still be living in that era and with those thoughts. I know you feel the same. I know you want to talk too. I know you want to break the fence too, and we both know that our parents won’t do that.

I have talked to kids from both the sides and they all love halwa puri, they dance in rains, they want to bunk classes and they hate homework. I have talked to kids from both the sides and I saw hope. Hope in a future where we are one, living together again. Hope in a future where our movies aren’t defining our perception from childhood and naming each other as enemies. Hope in a life where I get to live my grandfather’s memories in Lyallpur and my friend Adnan from across, gets to live in Kutch.

This Independence Day, let’s rethink of a future where we don’t have two different dates for celebrating the end of the 200-year-old fight we fought together to have a future. Let’s reimagine a future where we celebrate a date of a new relationship, where we live together as we had lived for hundreds of years before a political turmoil separated us.

P.S. – There will be no better cricket team than ours together. (On a lighter note)


A Pakistani’s Open Letter To Indians: ‘I Think We Can Do Without War’

Dear friends across the nation, We in Pakistan celebrated Pakistan Day yesterday. You are also celebrating it today, as we have both been doing for the past 70 years on our respective days. We hoist our flags, flaunt our pride and patriotism with much vigour and zeal every year.

This open letter was possible due to Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak friendship initiative. 

Image provided by author.