I am sacrificing my time and sleep to call a few of my old friends at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night.
We reminisce over the times when we got mad at each other, stayed up late watching movies, tried disgusting food together, drooled over our celebrity crushes, and spent our last days together.
We move on to talking about our current lives — where I go to a boarding school in Mussoorie while they go to the school I came from in Islamabad, Pakistan. Surprisingly, it is not awkward. We still find topics we can all relate to how tough physics is, how growing up is really not what everyone supposes it to be — fun –, and how stressful it is when people ask what you really want to do in life. All of these topics are what we used to talk about when we were 13 years old and still talk about when we are 17.
I feel grateful to find people who I can talk to even after so many years and still feel the same. In a way, their company has developed me into a better person who is open-minded and is respectful to other cultures. I am confident to say that this feeling is probably mutual since all of us grew up together despite coming from two “enemy” countries with a controversial history.
This rare friendship leads me to think about my completely different views of Pakistani people before I went there.
Back in 2011 when I was still in India, I remember my whole family and I being completely immersed and engrossed in a cricket match alongside with 67.3 million other viewers on the television The two rival countries, India and Pakistan, were opposing each other in the second semi-final stage of the World Cup. When India won and qualified for the finals, streets were crowded with people dancing to music and launching fireworks into the sky over the triumph of winning a match against the “enemy” country. Next day at school, when the discussion on the history of the two countries was broached, the other side was portrayed as:
The environment I grew up in consisted of many nationalistic Indians who influenced my views of Pakistani people. Due to their assertions, I was very apprehensive when my family got the news that we were about to live there for three whole years.
Little did I know, I was about to make lifelong friends.
Maybe it is because of our young ages that when we first met, we were able to get along well since at the ages of 10 or 11. Not many care about political situations regarding one’s country at that age. We had not been exposed to the various political dilemmas surrounding our countries and frankly, could not care less. All that mattered was whether we liked to play four-square.
Surprisingly, even as we grew up and the situation between the two countries remained unpredictable, our friendship is still as sincere as before.
While we make inside jokes, the distance of 368 miles and the time difference of 30 minutes do not separate us. In the span of three years, it is like nothing changed and I cannot be happier. After the call, I wonder why we, friends from countries with a history of violence against each other, can get along so well while our nations find it so hard to cooperate.
Aditi Deswal is a staff reporter of The Woodstocker
Edited by Victoria Lee