Amhad Siddiqui speaking about Meeto at the 2011 Meeto Memorial Award ceremony in Islamabad

The first time I met Meeto I was staying at her father’s house in Delhi, when all of a sudden one morning there was an insistent banging at my door and a voice outside proclaiming that I had better open up, she had just stopped by, was in a rush and was not about to stick around while I was busy making myself presentable. Meeto and my elder brother, Bilal, were close, you see, and our mothers are closer still – Amma and Kammo khala have been friends for over 30 years - and so Meeto quite rightly felt entitled at our first encounter to meet me with all the familiarity and loving impatience with which one greets a long-lost younger brother.

The second time I met Meeto I realized that this confident ease and openness in meeting strangers was not limited to those she considered family. She was staying at our house then on a brief visit to Lahore. We were having a dinner party. It may have been my parent’s anniversary, and Meeto who had been out during the day, returned with two boys and announced that she had brought home some entertainers for the festivities. I still remember her sitting there, a sort of languorous smile playing on her face, mischief in her eyes, as she explained how she had met them just out on the street.

The boys could not have been more than 15 or 16, and seemed quite taken with their sophisticated ‘madam’, as they called her. With the open atrocity which many Pakistanis display on meeting an Indian for the first time, they had bombarded her with all kinds of personal questions. Meeto was as good as she got, and within a few minutes had not only got them to sing a song for her but also convinced them to come home and perform for the party. It was not very good singing but certainly made good entertainment for everyone, not least the boys.

That was the last time I met Meeto. I wish I had known her better. But I am left with these impressions of warmth and familiarity, of confidence, humor and openness which I think are not at odds with the life she lived.

Tuesday 4 October 2011