Like everyone else, I have been making the most of Facebook, trying to connect with Pakistanis I have read about, authors whom I hold in high regard, and, of course, ordinary people like my husband and I.
I was happy when an author, a singer, an activist, an actor and some other Pakistanis added me to their lists of friends.
The singer, who is a favourite, was quick to reply to my note too. “It’s always a treat to meet Indians. My wife and I would love to have you and your husband over,” he wrote to me. He even sent me a nice couplet on how Indians and Pakistanis had felt the pain of Partition.
I, of course, jumped at the offer. For me it was a double bonus – he was my favourite and I didn’t have to beg him to meet me. However, when he told me where his home was I realized that was a no-entry area for Indians. “No problem. My wife and I will come over. Just tell us the time and date,” he wrote back, giving me his mobile number, insisting that we should meet “soon”.
A couple of days later, I sent him a text message inviting him home to dinner. The singer graciously thanked me for the invite, saying he may be in concert that day. So I asked him to give us a convenient date; but he never took us up on that.
Around the same time, I added a young professional, who writes regularly for an ezine and occasionally for Pakistani newspapers. My husband and I met him at an Indian diplomat’s reception and, I thought, we got along quite fine.
We parted on a cordial note promising to keep in touch, regretting that we hadn’t met earlier. That evening I added him on Facebook and we exchanged a couple of messages over something he had written after attending that reception. However, when I did invite him home, he told me he could be busy that day and that he would confirm later. He never did.
I was beginning to wonder what’s wrong with my friends on Facebook, till I added a relatively unknown Pakistani, who in my opinion, writes very well.
Two days ago, I found out it was his birthday. So I sent him a message wishing him the best and the same day he chatted with me briefly. After the usual pleasantries, he told me his yahoomail got hacked soon after he added me and wondered if that had happened to other Pakistanis I had interacted with.
I told him I had no idea. The questions that followed made me feel like a suspect (I do so wish I had the brain/resources/time/inclination to hack email accounts). He then very politely floated the idea of deleting me. I agreed wholeheartedly because I didn’t want to be the source of trouble for him or anyone else.