Tharparkar’s evenings are not only beautiful but mysterious too. Interior Sindh of Pakistan is elusive and remote for rest of Pakistan including even for Sindh urban areas like Karachi and Hyderabad. What happens in interior Sindh normally stays in interior Sindh but this time I was lucky to get an inside story as Pakistani Hindu Muslim couple share their experience with me in a quiet Karachi restaurant.
For rest of Pakistan, it may seem a news but there is a huge Hindu population in interior Sindh especially in Tharparkar area. So much so that in some towns and villages, Hindus are way in majority than the Muslims or any othe religion. Sindh and bordering areas of Balochistan are full of Hindu temples, shrines and other significant religious places. In day to day life, its hard to distinguish both Hindus and Muslims there. Both Hindu and Muslims live in peace and harmony with occasional outbursts.
Gulnar Palejo and Kaushik Kumar grew up together in the same street of same village. They used to play together after primary school. Gulnar left school after primary but both of them stayed in touch as they were next door neighbours and were on great family terms. Gulnar’s Muslim family never treated Abhishek’s Hindu family any differently and vice versa. Gulnar and Abhishek fell in love from very early age and by the time they crossed their teens; they already knew that they couldn’t live without each other.
Despite of all the close ties, religious tolerance and history of area; a Muslim girl marrying a Hindu boy in Pakistan is as out of place as anything could be. Both knew that if they disclose their love and desire for marriage; it would be a riot full of violence. One safe yet painful way was for Abhishek to convert to Islam and then get married with the help of local Islamic clerics while loosing his family forever. He wanted to stay Hindu and had no desire to force Gulnar to convert to Hinduism. Gulnar was a thorough Muslim too and knew that within ambit of her society, she couldn’t marry a Hindu boy.
They selected the only option they had if they wanted to to be together in their current state. Abhishek left for Karachi, found a job there as a driver in defense. He didnt share that information with anyone back home. He stayed there for 6 months. Abhishek then told his employer that he was getting married and if he could get a servant room at the back of house to bring his bride who could also work as housemaid if they liked. Owners like the idea and allowed him that. After arranging accommodation, Abhishek contacted Gulnar through a mutual friend. One day, Gulnar left the house on pretext of going to next village and met Abhishek out of village who took her to Karachi immediately. They did a civil marriage in the Hyderabad court on the way to Karachi.
Abhishek remained in touch with his family and also visited the village as no one had the faintest idea that Gulnar eloped with him. Search for Gulnar was on and everyone thought that she was either kidnapped by the dacoits of Kacha because no boy from the village was missing so elopement was ruled out. Police also didn’t bother and now after few months, search was cold too. Now the couple has been living in defence Karachi for the last 8 months happily with lingering fears. Abhishek’s is planning to leave for UAE once they have enough money to give to agent and once he arranges a job for himself. By the way, for the owners Abhishek’s wife is a Hindu too and they don’t care about their religious background either.