To my friends, Karuna Kurian, who is half-Indian and whose dad comes from Kerala, and she sometimes reads stories, I hope I'll show this to ya when we meet for Divergent when it comes out here or something; Wafa Sharif who is totes Indian and was probably cheering for India in their cricket game against Sri Lanka which I watched awhile ago, I miss you :); and to Malala Yousafzai, who is my hero.

powered by: Chennai Express (film) (lol), Ek Tha Tiger's love story between Tiger the Indian and Zee the Pakistani, my Filipino tito (uncle) TJ's stories of his train rides around India


Dear Malalai,

             I am in the Chennai express train, speeding through the tracks. The train is pretty shaky, but at least I got a seat with a table. My ride has been rolling for two hours now, and sometimes I look outside the window and see trees, people, mountains, apples, and oranges. They are all very beautiful, and they all remind me of you, because you are as beautiful as them.

            Ever since last we met I have been thinking if we will ever see each other again. The Moon is 238,900 miles away from the Earth, and yet forever they remain true to each other. I wonder if we will be like them. India and Pakistan are set next to each other but their separation fathoms more than 200,000 miles. Why is there so much hate and discord in between our countries? Why do the terrorists even kill the people—who are also human, like they the terrorists themselves?

           Even society frowns at the both of us. Sister-in-law, my friends have called you, when we laughed along the bridges and the cafés in Shimla and Delhi. But when we stood at that airport in Istanbul I heard them call you just “the girl” in contempt after they knew what your motherland was. “206 countries in the world, Chandra,” they told me after the cricket match, “and out of them all you choose the one you love from this country? How could you?” This is not fair. It has never been fair. But I will love you regardless of whatever else they will say.

          My father is still angry because of us. And that is why I left. My mother has bequeathed her blessing, and like me she sees beyond the division and believes that it should be united once again. I desire for your safety and for peace when you go back to your village. I dearly wish that none of your family will strike you on the cheek…as that might be inevitable. But I have talked to your father, and thank the heavens, he has warmed to me. We are exchanging letters and I shall write to him again after lunchtime.

          One of my seatmates in the train is a postman. He gave me a smile, and politely asked to whom I was writing to. I casually told him, and to where, and he looked like he got a lightbulb and told me I could hand over my letter to him and he could send it to you. Eventually we talked about our lives. He is Tamil and lives with his wife and children in Kerala, and they had a very colourful love story, like the ones in Bollywood movies. I will save it until we meet again, so you can hope for it to come very soon! And I told him all about us. After that, he was silent and I think he understood very deeply. He is the sort of person everyone needs.

         The sun is pounding on my window now, and it is unbearably hot. The passengers don’t know what else to do, except to stare at the blue paint and faces. The sunlight is glaring at the fields outside so no one looks out of the windows unless they want to go blind. (Which of course, no one wants.) I feel so sorry for them, because they are doing nothing and are bored to death, while I am here, doing something. I should do something to help them, as you would do if you were in my place.

         Oh, now, thankfully, someone has pulled out their guitar in my cabin. He’s singing some Indian songs now, which you may or may not know. But he sang a little of ‘Badtameez Dil’ and some of the youngsters sang along. The old people just looked on. He played another old one, which I’m not sure you know so it’s irrelevant. I wish I could play the guitar for you, and sing outside your window at dawn. But I can only play the piano and you can’t bring a keyboard outside on the lawn.

        I think my letter has become long enough. I will write you more, tomorrow, before Pratik the postman gets off the Chennai express. For now, let us pray that India and Pakistan will have peace, and for you and I as well. I love you, Malalai, more than you will ever know.

Salaam namaste,


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