Mohammed Sahir, 52, is a bedridden Pakistani bus driver undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of Al Rashid Hospital, Dubai. His wife, Shanu Mohammed, 48, an Indian national from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, anxiously awaits outside the ICU, waiting for her husband of two decades to recover.
The bus driver is suffering from multiple ailments, and stopped talking about two months ago. The mixed-nationality couple are running low on money, and don’t wish to return to either of their countries as that would mean splitting, as the wife would not get a Pakistani visa and the husband wouldn’t get an Indian visa. No, this isn’t the script of a Bollywood blockbuster but a real-life heart-breaking story unfolding right here in Dubai.
Mohammed’s brother Jane came all the way from Punjab in Pakistan to see the sick man and take him to his home country for further treatment, but Sahir refuses to return to Pakistan, as that would mean leaving behind his life partner and wife from India, who cannot go to Pakistan without a valid visa.
“He is chronically sick and we don’t have money for his treatment. Every day Dh3,100 is needed for the hospital expenses and I would like to take him for further treatment. I love him so much that I don’t want to leave him alone at this stage. He does not want to leave me here and go to Pakistan,” said Shanu, who fell in love with the Pakistani driver after meeting him through a cousin.
Mohammed lost his job after falling ill, and while the Sahir family wants him to return to Pakistan for further treatment, he has adamant that he will either go with his Indian wife, or live the rest of his life with her in Dubai.
“He has been bedridden for two months because his muscles do not work and he cannot speak. We are legally married here. I don’t have time to go out in search of help from charities or for anything, as I have to be here in front of the ICU to take care of him,” Shanu told Emirates 24|7.
She does not wish to go back to India without her Pakistani husband. “Even though I have been married for nearly 20 years, I’ve never been able to go to Pakistan because getting a visa is not easy. He hasn’t been able to visit my country for the same reason. Now that he is sick and bedridden, I cannot leave him alone. We are just praying that he recovers soon. I want to be with him till the end. He also does not want to leave me behind and go to Pakistan,” Shanu said.
According to social workers, Indian-Pakistani mixed nationality couples in Dubai face similar situation, as getting visa to the two neighbouring countries is a Herculean task and there are bottlenecks that delay and deny visa to Indians going to Pakistan and Pakistanis going to India.
“There is no geographical limit for love and the visa restrictions in both the countries did not stop them from loving each other,” said Nazer, a social worker, who is trying to help the couple. The couple is surviving with the end-of-service benefit from Mohammed’s employment.