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Life is elsewhere

india Updated: Mar 13, 2009 23:24 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Their wedding was telecast live. When 23-year-old Mushaal Mullick married 42-year-old Yasin Malik on February 22, most television channels carried their nikaah live into the homes of ordinary Pakistanis.

You could call it news. One of the best-known faces of the Kashmiri separatist movement, the resident of Srinagar, was marrying a beautiful but little-known Pakistani girl from Rawalpindi.

I met Mushaal and Yasin at a friend’s house in Islamabad. He had invited them over to a post-wedding dinner. The couple was the centre of attention. Yasin did most of the talking, while Mushaal sat quietly as the debate moved to the upcoming elections in India and the developing situation in Pakistan. She appeared to be listening carefully, aware that a life of being wedded to a political animal like Yasin would be full of such discussions.

For the moment, it appeared that Mushaal was oblivious to the nuances of the Kashmiri separatist movement — which can be more than a tad difficult for the uninitiated to understand.

Born in Pakistan, Mushaal studied at one of the country’s leading public schools — Beaconhouse. She is currently an external candidate at the London School of Economics for a Bachelor’s degree. And she told the Hindustan Times that she planned to move to London for her Master’s degree.

But her first love is painting. And, for a Pakistani girl, her themes are pretty bold — she draws nudes. Mushaal says that her love for art developed early. She began water colour paintings at the age of six and then moved to other media including pastel, charcoal, and glass painting.

“Her inspiration stems from the raw beauty of the ‘feminine mystique’, and the horrors of abject poverty. Her recent painting titled, ‘Shame on Humanity’, was inspired by the victims of the South Asian earthquake of 2005,” Mushaal’s website says about her work. She is currently promoting her paintings via the website, and hopes to sell some of her artwork to aid NGOs in Islamabad working on women’s development.

Mushaal spent considerable time talking about her late father, M.A. Hussein Mullick, an economist who worked as a professor
at the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah University in Islamabad.

Like many young Pakistanis, Mushaal, who is interested in pursuing further studies, is not disinterested in Bollywood. This is one area of Indian culture of which Mushaal has a direct interest and understanding.

After this dinner in Islamabad, where I managed to speak to Mushaal only briefly, Yasin invites me to Bahria, a town between Islamabad and Rawalpindi, to talk some more. I persuade my Indian friend, Nirupama, who attended their wedding, to accompany me. The Mullicks’ house is welcoming. They have laid out a spread that neither of us expect.

Mushaal and her mother have taken care to cook vegetarian, a variety of food that appears daunting for many Pakistanis.

Given that Nirupama is vegetarian, it makes for a successful dinner.

Yasin, whom I have known for at least 15 years in my professional capacity as a journalist, discusses his plans to return to India. Mushaal is not going to accompany him just yet. The couple’s future hinges on Mushaal getting an Indian visa.

A lot could depend on Mushaal getting the that stamp on her passport. Like the future of their marriage.