Indo-Pak cricket: Pak brides in India have divided loyalties

"I love both the countries and wish both would win...there shouldn't be any loser," says Kehkahan, a Pakistani married into Indian family.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2004 13:14 IST

As India and Pakistan kicked off their groundbreaking cricket series on Saturday, Pakistani brides married into Indian homes watched with divided loyalties, and anxiety about the violence that can erupt in homes after such encounters. "I really do not know whom to support—my adopted country or the country where I was born," said Kehkahan Siddiqui, a Pakistani married into an Indian family in Lucknow.

"I love both the countries. I belong to both India and Pakistan," she said in a choked voiced. "I wish both the countries would win ... there should not be any loser."

The India-Pakistan cricket series -- the first full your in 14 years -- is part of the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.

Lucknow is one of the cities where Hindus and Muslims live together in large numbers. Thousands of Indian Muslims have families and relatives across the border in Pakistan, the country that was carved out of India in 1947 by the then British administration.

"If you ask me, I do not want India to play any cricket match with Pakistan ... It is full of tension and regardless of the result, it leaves me saddened after every match," said Salma Siddiqui, who married a teacher in Lucknow in 1986. "India is no different from Pakistan. But when India plays cricket with Pakistan, the differences all of a sudden surface," she said. For the next month, her home would witness friendly banter over the divided loyalties during the cricket series, she said. But for some, India-Pakistan cricket matches do not bring just friendly banter.

Zubeida from Mianwali in Pakistan was married to a Lucknow-based businessman and burned alive by her in-laws after India lost a match in 1986 in the United Arab Emirates. The husband and the parents-in-law were convicted and sent to seven years in prison. "Zubeida was taunted by her husband for supporting India. Her in-laws and her husband poured kerosene over her and burnt her alive," said Rafiq Kazi, a neighbour of the family. Zubeida used a single name.

However, there is one couple -- a Hindu and Muslim -- that has sorted out their loyalties.

Sadia Momin from Pakistan met her Hindu husband Rakesh Tomar in Hong Kong. Despite opposition from her family, she married Tomar, a Lucknow-based banker.

"In our house there is no pressure. I will cheer for Pakistan while Rakesh will support India," she said. "We have decided that no matter which country wins we will throw a party the next day."

First Published: Mar 13, 2004 12:06 IST