By Naheed Hassan,
Special to The Post
Speak to someone you know well from Pakistan or India, and they will have a story to tell about the loss, sorrow and heartbreak that accompanied the birth of these two nations in 1947. Everyone seems to have lost relatives, friends or acquaintances.
As hard as it is to honor the memories of those who suffered, are these narratives of loss keeping the two countries from moving forward?
Is the burden of the past casting a shadow on the future.
If that were so, it would be critically important to find more positive, uplifting narratives and stories, so the painful past can lead to a better tomorrow.
That is the motivation for “Love Across Borders” an anthology of short stories about love, romance and relationships published by Indireads, an innovative, young publisher from South Asia.
These short stories, 1000-2000 words in length, tell stories of romance, love and relationships that transcend or ignore the man-made border. The collection includes stories of love that blossoms when a visitor from one side of the border visits the other, the bond between two friends married on either side of the border, and also of virtual love between characters separated by the border.
The stories included are set in contexts that are unfamiliar and yet familiar. Meet Sejal and Saleema, two about-to-be brides who meet in Novelty Emporium where the master craftsman Pandit-ji is creating their wedding dresses.
One also meets Anjum, Vandana’s new neighbor, a bride brought from Pakistan, who although moved and replanted, settles better in her new environment than the woman whose home it is.
Digital connections are a reality in this day and age. Meet Dilip, now in his sixties, who searches unceasingly for ‘a friend’ on Facebook; and Suresh who searches for clues online of his lost love from his days in Karachi University.The anthology has already received wide support as a creative peace initiative, and received statements of support from Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Amitava Kumar, Musharraf Ali Farooqi, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US – Sherry Rehman and former US Ambassador to Pakistan David Cameron amongst many others.
Shabana Azmi in her statement of support said, "Today more than ever before, it is critical that our two nations understand, listen, empathize and connect with ‘the other’. We know that across the globe, young people are at the forefront of driving real change; the appeal of initiatives like Love Across Borders is that it draws in, and engages, young people across the borders. I am confident that the project will play at least a small role in helping us move towards our common objective of a better tomorrow. "
The collection published on Independence Day, (August 14th and August 15th 2013), was released in electronic format and made available for download for free as a civic initiative by Indireads.