World Cup: For 63-year-old woman, India-Pakistan match is first meeting with granddaughter

My wife went to Pakistan in 2021 when my daughter was expecting her first child. We will meet again, hopefully in Ahmedabad. I can’t wait to hold my grandson in my arms, said Khan, 63, who lives in Chandeni village.

Before the Pakistan team’s visit to India, there were days marred by uncertainty about the long-awaited family reunion.

First there were questions about the team’s travel to India, and then Hasan Ali was not included in the preliminary squad for the World Cup. It was only after Nasim Shah was injured during the Asia Cup last month that Ali was replaced.

Given the hype surrounding the India-Pakistan match and political tensions, Khan is carefully weighing his words. Recalling the day his daughter expressed her desire to marry Ali, he brings philosopher Rumi into the conversation.

I have lived my life by one of Rumi’s quotes that I read during my college days in Rohtak. ‘Apne dil ki. suno, bheed ki nahi (listen to your heart, not to the crowd). My daughter worked as a flight engineer for Emirates airline and met Hassan in Dubai through a mutual friend. She told me about him and I never doubted her decision, he says.

What is the point of education if I impose my decisions on her? She is educated, independent. Who cares what a few people say behind our backs? I told her it doesn’t matter who she marries, as long as she is happy. We have distant relatives living in Pakistan who went there during the partition. Hasan is kind, with a beautiful heart, he says.

Asked if he faces any internal conflict during India-Pakistan matches played by his son-in-law, he says: I have seen Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Azharuddin, but I am rooting for Virat Kohli. Mujhe mohabbat hai Virat Kohli se (I am in love with Virat Kohli), he says and breaks into laughter.

I don’t think there is anyone better than Virat Kohli in this era. ҮYes, there was a downturn in form, but he’s come back – still not in top form, but well ahead of the rest. I have a feeling he will end up being the leading World Cup runner. When I meet Hasan, I will ask him to help me meet my team (India) players as well. I want to take a picture with Virat Kohli and send my regards to Rahul Dravid, he says.

For Kohli, Khan too has borrowed famous words. This time he quotes George Bernard Shaw when talking about Kohli’s period of decline. Shaw said: The secret of success is to offend the greatest number of people. This explains what happened to Virat Kohli when people criticized him during recessions. He is great, perhaps the greatest Indian cricketer, he said.

Khan says not a day goes by that he doesn’t pray for better relations between India and Pakistan. Meri Allah se yahi guzarish rehti hai ki dono mulkon ke rishte sudhar jaaye (I pray to Allah every day for better relations between India and Pakistan.d Pakistan). We can live peacefully as brothers, he says.

And like any parent, he hopes to see his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter at his home in Chandeni. I want more cricket series between India and Pakistan. I hope one day Hasan will play in Delhi and we can host him at our home. My daughter can come and stay in her house. Is it too much to ask from my father, he says.

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