Happy Independence Day
My mother was forced to leave behind the city of her birth, Rawalpindi, when she was just 18 because of the tumultuous ruptures of Partition. She had never returned. When she was to turn 75, I thought the best gift I could give her was to take her, if it was at all possible, to the city and to the home in which she was born. I emailed my friends in Pakistan tentatively with my plan. They were immediately very welcoming. "Just get her a visa, leave the rest to us," they said. I applied for visas. It seemed then a small miracle that we got these easily. I booked our flight tickets, and before long we were on our way. Every night we would set out looking for a wayside shop to buy fruit juice. Each night we found a new shop, and each night without exception, the shopkeeper refused to accept any money for the fruit juice. “We will not charge money from our guests from India,” they would say each time. This happened for a full week. I have travelled to many countries around the world in the 60 years of my life. I have never encountered a people as gracious as those in Pakistan. This declaration is my latest act of sedition.