How two Indian sisters found their love in Pakistan

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 14 Aug 2017, 18:45:46

How two Indian sisters found their love in Pakistan

How two Indian sisters found their love in Pakistan
Love, romance and cross-border terrorism has been a Bollywood staple for many decades. But no silver-screen blockbuster can compete with a real-life cross-border love story, especially if it involves not just one, but two riveting tales of love.

Meet Zarina and Zeenat, two sisters from Mumbai, who both married Pakistani nationals, and proved that love has no borders or boundaries.

"People ask us jokingly whether there were no Indians left that both of us had to find Pakistani grooms. We tell them we wanted India and Pakistan to learn something from us," Zeenat Tanvir, 40, from Sharjah, told Khaleej Times.

But winning the battle of love, Zeenat married her school classmate Tanvir Hussain, 42, from Lahore, Pakistan, while her sister Zarina chose Tanvir's best friend, Mustafa Iqbal, also from Peshawar in Pakistan, as her life partner.

     To make the love story even more filmy, two couples tied the knot in Sharjah on the same day on October 15, 1998.

"It is the best decision that we have ever taken. Our love and marriage have only grown stronger in the last 18 years," said Zarina Mustafa, 37.

The couple has five children: Zahra, 18, Murtaza, 15, Fahad, 13 and twins Asma and Husna, 10. Zeenat and Tanvir have three children: Ali, 14, Fizza, 11 and Haider, 8.

Tanvir, who runs a packaging business in Sharjah, said Zeenat was his teenage love, and when he was around 18 years, he did not imagine he would end up marrying her.

"People make a big fuss when you marry even from a different state. So, imagine choosing a girl from a different country, that too from India. We did go through a lot of difficulties but finally we are enjoying the fruits of our love. When you love someone with all your heart, love will ultimately win."

      Echoing the same zest and passion of her teenage years, Zeenat said she was deeply in love with Tanvir since her Grade 11. "That has never changed. All our cultural differences, nationalities, language barriers nothing mattered to us, till date," said Zeenat.

Zarina-Mustafa love story is also similar. The couple met while Zeenat was dating Tanvir. "Mustafa was my brother-in-law's best friend. So, both of us used to hang out a lot. Love just happened," said Zarina.

But it was indeed not a cake walk to the marriage aisle.

"Naturally our parents were concerned. There was pressure from family and friends. It was a big thing for us to marry outside of our Bohri community. I am sure my father had difficulties to tell community leaders that both his daughters are marrying non-Bohris," said Zeenat.

Same was the case with Mustafa and Tanvir whose parents were not happy about their sons marrying Indian girls outside of their communities. After 18 years of marital bliss, the couples say their life offers the perfect tutorial for Indo-Pak friendship. "All this war-mongering and violence across the border, the hatred, It is all politics. Between the people of two countries, there is only love and friendship," says Zeenat.

"I have been to Pakistan several times, and the love and warmth I received from the people, even at the airport, was an eye-opener."

Both sisters said they had gallivanted across Pakistan and could only see the mirror image of India everywhere. "We are the same people who got separated because of politics and religion," said Zarina.

But there are days when love and peace take a backseat at home, admits the couple. "When India and Pakistan are playing cricket, then there is real war. Me and my sister are ardent Indian fans and our husbands are die-hard supporters of Pakistan. There is no divided loyalty when it comes to cricket. Even our kids take sides," joked Zarina.

But as soon as the cricketing frenzy dies, the couples become best friends again, just like they were in school.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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