Eid Mubarak from The Boy Refugee.

Eid Mukarak! Forty-seven years ago, it was the Eid day when my family crossed the border and we were handed over to the Pakistani authorities. Yes! 29th of October 1973 was Eid ul Fitr when we were released from the camp after 2 years of forced imprisonment.

On the Pakistani side, cheerful welcoming songs played for us on the loudspeakers. The songs praised the bravery of our soldiers and glorified the people of Pakistan. One particular song, I remember, went:

Aye watan ke sajeelay jawano, mere naghme tumhare liye hain.

O! The brave soldiers of my land; my songs are but for you! We were led into a large tent where we were given a hero’s welcome. Young schoolgirls showered rose petals on us, as we walked on the red carpet. The tent was decorated with colorful buntings that hung from strings crisscrossing the length of the shamiana. Miniature Pakistani flags dangled above our heads. The atmosphere was very festive and uplifting.

Because it was a special day, the then President of Pakistan Mr. Fazl-Elahi Chaudhry came to greet us and gave a short speech. We were treated to a a lunch of Biryani and Kabab, something that we had not tasted in 2 years!

This is the little leaflet I saved from that day and kept it in my little green suitcase all these years. Read about this incredible journey in my book “The Boy refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War” available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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