TOMORROW’S SUN will be brighter, said Fauzia Ansari (59), her voice quivering in anticipation as she speaks over the phone from New Delhi. Her son Hamid Nehal Ansari, having completed a three-year prison sentence handed to him by a military court for entering Pakistan illegally, is set to return home.
Fauzia, a schoolteacher based in Versova in suburban Mumbai, is currently in New Delhi with her husband, both of them preparing to travel to the Wagah border where they hope to meet Hamid when he is escorted across the international border.
On November 5, 2012, Hamid, an IT engineer and management graduate, left home with the hope of landing a job at the Kabul airport. Since then, his family, and especially Fauzia, have done little else but petition politicians and courts for his release.
From dealing with sleeplessness by trawling social media for contacts in Pakistan to making cold calls to political leaders, Fauzia tried everything, her hope never dimming. “He told us he would get a well-paying job at Kabul airport. Besides, he also wanted to meet a girl in Pakistan who he had befriended online,” Fauzia told The Indian Express over the phone.
“He thought he could land a job as well as meet a girl he had fallen in love with,” she said.
Since November 10, 2012, Hamid was untraceable. That was the last time Fauzia spoke to him, when he said he would be returning shortly — his Afghanistan trip hadn’t been fruitful.
For more than three years afterwards, Fauzia suffered from insomnia. She would spend long nights browsing social media, trying to make friends in Pakistan. “I came to know through his emails that he was in Pakistan. So, I looked for Pakistan-based social activists on the Internet and contacted them. A few people entertained me, but the attempt to find my son was not successful,” said Fauzia.
Then, in 2015, Fauzia got in touch with Pakistan-based lawyer Qazi Mohamed Anwar and human right activist Rakshanda Naz. “I visited advocate Majeed Memon’s office frequently, and it was during one of those visits that I was introduced to Anwar, who happened to be in town. After that things began to fall in place,” she recounted.
In January 2016, she was told that her son is in a Peshawar jail, sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on December 15, 2015 for entering Pakistan illegally.
“I am thankful to god that I came across so many good people during this journey. Anwar and Naz helped me on humanitarian grounds. They never charged me any money, instead they would hand us cash whenever we went to Pakistan,” said Fauzia.
Overwhelmed by the anticipation of his release, the Ansaris had booked their tickets to New Delhi well in advance. “Yesterday, we were informed that it will be a month before he is released. But we decided to travel to Delhi anyway, and meet officials at the Pakistan High Commission. We have found out now that he will be released on Tuesday,” Fauzia added.
Meanwhile, life for the Ansaris has slowed down. Hamid’s brother Khalid, a 35-year-old doctor, has opted to stay single. “In 2012, his wedding had been fixed and dates finalised, but he refused to get married, insisting that he would marry only after he sees his brother out of jail,” said Fauzia.