His anxiety started at the immigration.
His late father was a Pakistani, so he had an entire clan to come home to in Karachi. He stayed with his father’s younger brother, where he found peace and quiet.
He had to report his arrival in the country, where he had been asked for chai-paani. The officer demanded Rs 500.
At my place, relatives of all ages surrounded him all the time. My cousins were particularly curious, and had asked him to write his name, as well as mine, in both Hindi and Urdu. And when he did, they wanted to know where he learned to write in Urdu.
He was constantly asked to tell stories about India.
They asked him if Hindus and Muslims quarreled all the time. They wondered if there are mosques in India. They wanted to know if the lifestyle depicted in Star Plus soaps are true. They asked him if he had met any Bollywood actor.
And then he was coerced to have at least one serving from all of the five or six main dishes served on the table. Refusing the dessert afterwards was not an option.
He bought kurta from Dolmen Mall.
They thought he looked Pakistani.
They all loved him.
His anxiety started at the immigration. The officer asked him whether we were married.
My grandmother’s younger sister lives in New Delhi, but since my in-laws are from Hyderabad, that’s where we stayed. We went on a school break; peace and quiet was out of the question.
I didn’t have to officially report my arrival in the country.
I noticed that local women stared at me a lot. It was perhaps my shalwar kameez, which was inches higher than the usual Indian version. Or perhaps the headscarf. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I smiled at a group of women, who had been staring at me for quite sometime already.
One of the girls came closer, and asked,”Where are you from, Madam?”
When she learns that I’m Pakistani, she called all the ladies from her group. They surrounded me, while I wait for my husband to complete his prayers in a nearby mosque, and continued to stare some more.
“What’s it like in Pakistan?” Another lady asked.
They wanted to know if all Pakistani women wore the same shalwar kameez as I was wearing. They asked if we watched Bollywood movies. They asked if we were taught Hindi in schools. They wondered if there are temples in Pakistan. Later, they insisted on a group photo with me.
My cousin-in-laws from Mumbai don’t understand some of the Urdu phrases, so I felt so cool explaining the language to them. The kids and women in Hyderabad surrounded me all the time. When we visited a family friend, a woman asked me why I wasn’t wearing a sari.
I was constantly asked to tell stories of Pakistan.
And then I was coerced to have at least one serving from all of the five or six main dishes served on the table. Refusing the dessert after wards was not an option.
I bought saris from Char Minar.
They all loved me.