For the people from either side of the border – there is no border. There never was.
As a kid I loved spiced Indian berry so much that I would save my pocket money to buy it from the street vendor outside the school gate. He would wrap the berries in an old newspaper, and my defiant self would smuggle it into the classroom. This, despite the school’s strict rules not to bring food or eat inside classrooms.
In no-man’s land, I found a childhood joy. “Is thatbogori?” I asked, and just as he confirmed, a patroller with a gun in hand came prodding towards me. All this while, I was not aware that the whistling was directed at me, and had worsened.
It’s then when I found out that the vendor was Bangladeshi.
“Am I not allowed to buy from him?” I asked the approaching patroller. In a good-humoured countenance, he shook his head ‘no’ and walked right past us – between the vendor and I. But he did not stop, and said not a word to either of us. He walked away, some distance from us. I understood that the uniformed man was giving me leeway to finish what I had set out to do.
“How much?” I asked hurriedly, determined to smuggle a box ofBangladeshi-bogoriinto India.
The bold vendor quoted a ridiculously high amount, but I didn’t care. I was jubilant; I was willing to pay anything for that, I was eager to buy from the man across the border.
But the truth – which I realised later as I do most truths – was more twisted than my eagerness to eat those spiced Indian berries. I like breaking rules: Rules that don’t make sense. Rules that defy common sense. Rules that give no credence to humanity. Rules that do not honour feelings. Rules that assume that imaginary lines can separate people forever.
So I am glad that I could be there, amongst people who could have been Indians. I am glad I could buy my favourite spiced berries from a man who is no longer Indian but is still one of us.
For the people from either side of the border – there is no border. There never was. There are only rocks, and the crystal clear waters of a river that silently flows across the land.