When the Prime Minister met up with an old pal of his on Friday, one couldn’t help but think that this was the best advertisement for the nonsensical quality of the decades-long feud between India and Pakistan. Raja Mohammad Ali and Manmohan Singh were two youngsters growing up in the village of Gah — until 1947 happened. Raja stayed behind while ‘Mohna’ crossed a new border. The rest, as they say, is a friendship interrupted. Mr Ali and Mr Singh met after 60 years, the age of their two respective countries, and it was much much more than the Prime Minister of India meeting a guest from Pakistan at his official residence on Friday.
Pre-Partition friends, or relatives ‘stranded’ on either side of the India-Pakistan fence, meeting after decades is becoming less and less a rarity. Why even Dilli boy Pervez Musharraf came to meet up with memories not too long ago. But unlike in the Pakistani President’s case, this meeting between two old classmates was deeply personal, two white-bearded gentlemen trying desperately to remember the two youngsters they were through each other’s memories and one-and-a-half hour-long chit-chat.
There will be a time when there will be Indians and Pakistanis with no shared memories at all. That is not necessarily a sad thing, but it will be the end of a few generations of people who knew that ‘home’ isn’t necessarily in one country.