FROM ACROSS THE BORDER|
BY: Bilal Munir Sheikh
Imagine being the only Pakistani in an Indian school with thousands of students … Sounds overwhelming, given the tension and relationship between our countries.
Let me rewind a little. You see my father was posted at the Pakistani High Commission in India from 1979 to 1982. Delhi Public School was where I was enrolled ( in Class 6A), and thus started my interaction with India and Indians.
Initially, I felt like a museum piece, as other students would come by my class, just to have a look at this Pakistani studying amongst them. Gradually the shyness melted, and we got down to discussing the most pressing issue for Indians and Pakistanis in sixth grade – cricket!
I was a shy boy, but one day, our Principal, Mr. G.P.S. Waraich just called me prior to morning assembly to make a speech in front of the whole school about being a Pakistani in an Indian school. That was an experience I would never forget; but I suppose I managed well. There was a lot of clapping at the end of it all. This gave me a lot of confidence.
I still remember giving trials for the athletics team and ( surprise) making it as a sprinter. Given the competition, I was and still am very proud of that achievement. Although my stay was short, I made a lot of friends. However, sadly I have lost contact with all of them. I still remember my farewell party, arranged with the contributions of my classmates, and how each one of them gave me gifts to remember them by.
In October 1999, I had the chance to visit Delhi and DPS again, agter nearly seventeen years. It felt wonderful going down memory lane and revisiting the same places. The Principal, teachers and students were as friendly now as they were then.
AS A YOUNG boy in DPS, it wasn’t always very easy defending my views on political issues ( I was far outnumbered !) but with time we learnt to respect each other’s difference of opinions. Perhaps we should do the same at the national level too. I hope that India and Pakisitan would be able to sort out their difference can day, and that we would be able to live peacefully and independently as good neighbours.