From across the border, books and bats
This week, while one Pakistani was being questioned by the Indian police and hysterical reporters on an alleged marriage to an Indian, another Pakistani, composed and smiling, fielded questions from an admiring audience on dynasty and politics in the country that every Indian has an opinion on.
The contrast between Shoaib Malik, who is all set to marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, and Fatima Bhutto, writer and niece of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, could not be more glaring. And that is reason to celebrate.
Because for a few days, we could forget all the usual tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals and simply revel in a public spectacle that had equal measures of romance, melodrama and suspense.
As well as a chance to see up, close and personal, a member of a family that is as closely connected with Pakistan’s character as perhaps the Gandhi family in India.
Bhutto, in Mumbai to launch her memoir, “Songs of Blood and Sword”, said there was much in common between the two countries, but we only get to hear the views of politicians and other “glitzy and glamorous” people.
But there were other voices, she said and more to talk about, like art and literature and healthcare.
Dressed in a saree and wearing a bindi on her forehead, perhaps to show she is different from her veiled aunt whom she closely resembles, Bhutto, 27, answered questions easily, joking and smiling, even as she described the day of her father’s assassination in 1996.
Hailed by the Indian media as much for her good looks as her writing ability, Bhutto said she wrote the story, difficult as it was, in order to pierce through the silence and secrecy that shrouds much of Pakistan’s bloody history.
A host of talented Pakistani writers including Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Ali Sethi, Nadeem Aslam, Kamila Shamsie and Uzma Aslam, are all doing just that.
But it also helps to throw some cricket into the mix.