Hello, beloved readers!
I am very thrilled about sharing a series of stories and ‘travel-ventures’ with you in the coming few weeks. The stories will all be themed “A Christian, a Muslim, and an Atheist went out for dinner”.
In a world that is heartbreakingly divisive, one often feels out of control. When hatred raises its ugly head, that is when love soars higher. I do believe in empowering human beings through respect and value- no matter what. Today, when hatred, xenophobia and mistrust seem to be ruling the headlines, I believe love, understanding and conversation can exist in much greater ways.
In this series, join me as we embark on another journey- this one spanning many joyous years, and it all starts with a simple day in August’11.
Featuring stories of interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence, get to meet your favourite (nonfictional) characters, Cynthia, Carlos, Sarwar and Todd among many, many others.
Ezza Naveed Irfan
(Mere weeks from the May 2011 global Abbottabad incident.)
It was a bright day in August; with school back on and a promise of a new academic year, I was set to experience another annual magical adventure. I was, however, clueless as to how magical this one summer would prove to be; it is the primary reason why years later, a Christian, a Muslim and an Atheist would go out for a Pakistani dinner.
Rushing home excitedly, I slipped into a beautiful green embroidered kurta kameez and trousers. I adorned a beaded necklace and slipped coloured glass bangles down my wrists, their gentle clinks a soft melody of the hands that so lovingly designed them. I was overwhelmed to meet my guests today: a white Christian American lady and her strange acquaintances.
The clock struck 3, and the guests, part of the International Rotary Club, pooled inside the warm fawn walls of my house. And across the three enormous sofas were seated Cynthia D. Ritchie, Carlos Salsedo, and Mrs Salsedo; the latter two were Italian. There were also local Rotary workers present. I must name here Madam Naila, the kindhearted social worker.
From the eyes of Cynthia Ritchie, walked a shy smiling girl in a beautiful green attire to reply to her “Salama Laikum”.
From the eyes of Ezza Naveed, was seated a blue-eyed gori (white woman) in an off-white kurta and a cultural stole, beaming as she strived lovingly to offer a Salam.
They both stare at each other briefly, in awe.
And then they spin wonder with their words.
The clock strikes four. There is a knock on the door, and the little girl in her green attire is whipped back from Cynthia’s stories of hometown Houston to her now very lively lounge; it echoes with roaring laughter. A diversity of dialects, all intermingling at stammering words, caresses the ears of smiling faces as Elishbah, Carlos, Cynthia and wonderful Mrs Salsedo talk about life ‘back home’.
In walked Imran, the chef for the day, announcing with well-earned pride that the lunch was finally ready. With chappati(bread) saag(spinach) and lassi, the goras are in for a mouth-watering surprise.
To be continued.
Goras: informal way(often in good humour) of calling white men and women
Lassi: a cool drink made by blending yoghurt and water
gori: informal way(often in good humour) of calling a white,(often blonde) woman