Love without Boundaries – A story of how Social Media connected a man from the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan with his admirer from Indore, India.
Romantic-movie fanatics might have better idea how exhilarating the movie gets when two true lovers are separated by the manacles of boundaries. The love story of Sher Ali from the Hunza valley is in no way lesser than a Bollywood movie that is filled with all the thrills of ups and downs. Lucky enough for Sher Ali and his admirer from India, the story has a happy ending; something we have been seeing in most of the desi movies for decades.
It started on Facebook. Sher Ali, a resident of Shimshal valley in Upper Hunza (Gojal) in Gilgit-Baltistan, was running a Facebook group about Rumi and Sufism. In December 2010, Sher gets a friend request from an Indian girl named Sweetie Cornelius. With no clear intentions, he accepted and both continued their Facebook friendship for some time; but the best part started when he got proposed by her.
It wasn’t that simple for Sher Ali. He was aware of the constraints of boundaries and religion that might not put their story to a happy ending. Keeping all facts in mind, Sher Ali declined her proposal.
Sweetie did not give up early. She kept trying to persuade Sher Ali to visit India. With passage of time Sher Ali, who now double-minded, started falling for Sweetie which was indeed big success for her. There was another issue building up, Sweetie’s parent were worried about her future. Sweetie Cornelius belongs to a Christian family while Sher Ali is an Ismaili Muslim. Sweetie’s parents did not even hear about the Hunza valley and they were concerned about how life there might be. At this point, it was worthwhile for Sher to give a try.
Sher Ali tried to get a visa throughout the next two years but there was no luck for him. Meanwhile, thousands of kilometers apart, Sweetie’s love for Sher was getting stronger.
It is worth mentioning that Sweetie is granddaughter of Pakistan’s 4th Chief Justice, Justice Alvin “Bobby” Robert Cornelius. He migrated to Pakistan during partition of the sub-continent but his 6 other brothers stayed in India. Later, Alvin Robert Cornelius served as Chief Justice of Pakistan from 1960 until 1968. He was also founding figure of Pakistan cricket and one of the three founding vice-presidents of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which was called Board for Control of Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) back then.
Where there is a will, there is a way. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced visas for Pakistan tour of India cricket matches. Connect the lines! Sher took no time to apply for a visa which was approved.
In December 2012, two years after the story started, Sher Ali went to Indore, India, to meet Sweetie’s parents and to persuade them about their marriage.
Talking to Imran Hunzai of hunza.co over telephone, Sher Ali said:
“I told them everything about Hunza and Ismailis. I showed them websites and Facebook pages. They never expected there was life in the north most mountainous region of Pakistan. They accepted in the end.”
The trouble do not end here. Event though Sweetie’s parents were now persuaded, Sher Ali did not get a visa extension. He even did not find a 19-grade officer in India to sign his papers. Sher says “When they saw ‘Pakistani’ on my visa, they would simply say no.”
Sher Ali had to come back to Pakistan and try again for visa. After yet another long struggle and spending hours running after formalities, Sher Ali finally succeeded to get another visa for India.
On 27th October, 2014, Sher Ali and Sweetie Cornelius got married with blessings of their parents. Two days after their marriage, he brought Sweetie and her parent to Pakistan to show them his native valley.
The couple is now settled in Lahore. Sher Ali works for a renowned media group. Before marriage, Sweetie was a lecturer at Indore Institute of Science and Technology, Indore, India.
Sher Ali is still maintaining the page that connected him with Sweetie. The latest post he made was:
My head is bursting
with the joy of the unknown.
My heart is expanding a thousand fold.
flies about the world.
All seek separately
the many faces of my love.”
By Hazrat Molana Jalaluddin Rumi