July 14, 2023
In recent weeks, the story of a Pakistani woman sneaking into India to be with an Indian man who she met online has taken the internet by storm. The story is the stuff of films: Seema Haider, 27, a Karachi-based married woman and mother of four, began talking to Sachin Meena, 22, on the digital battlegrounds of PUBG, a popular online shooter game. After four years of chatting with Meena, Haider met up with him in Kathmandu in March. A few months later, Haider took her four children with her to Nepal, where she snuck into India.
The 19th-century Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib once famously wrote, “Ishq par zor nahin hai yeh woh aatish, ki lagaye na lage aur bujhaye na bane.” Love is a fire that we cannot control — it neither ignites upon force, nor extinguishes easily. Ghalib probably wasn’t talking about people bonding over their love of an R-rated video game, yet lovers from different South Asian nations have gone to great lengths to prove that their flames are, in fact, inextinguishable.
But at a time when even pigeons flying over borders created by the Partition of India and a subsequent war — leading to present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — are detained on suspicion of spying, cross-border love in the subcontinent seems ill-fated. Yet, despite the odds, these lovers continue to break barriers and find each other.