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It was a rare honor to hear each of these game-changers speak.
But the real event that brought our two families together came the day after the award ceremony. Khalida and I had waited a long time to commemorate our parents agreeing to our marriage.
My fiancée, Khalida Brohi, a dedicated advocate for women's rights in Pakistan, waited with me, anxious for her parents to emerge. A soft jersey cap covered the seedlings of her post-chemotherapy hair. Representatives of the Pilosio Building Peace Award gala, the event that had brought us here, waited only steps away where they were facilitating the arrival of their other guests, including Kofi Anan.
The attendant who had wheeled my mother out pecked impatiently at her smartphone. I rocked side-to-side, nervous, eyes darting between doors, trying to catch my first live glimpse of my in-laws.
An engagement is a family affair with food, song and dance.
These exemplary human beings were denied visas by the Italian Consulate the first time they applied, despite copious documentation on the nature of their visit.
It was only due to the persistent coaxing by the good people at Pilosio that they were finally granted entrance. It felt as if I were shrugging-off a hundred-pound sack of rice as I trotted to meet them. I bent down to touch his feet and then my chest, a sign of respect, but he thwarted my gesture. We were overcome by the joy of finally being in each other's company. After an hour, the moment I had nervously awaited finally arrived. Ammi doesn't speak English, and my family doesn't speak Urdu or my fiancée's tribal language of Brahui.
Ammi brought me a traditional Pakistani outfit, a "shalwar qameez." Abba brought a silver bejeweled hat called a "topi," an elaborate version of the typical style of the men of Balochistan and Sindh provinces in Pakistan.
They also brought me an ajrak, a large scarf with exquisite patterns worn by Sindhi men that they use for everything from covering themselves against dust to wiping their mouths.Obtaining visas had not been easy, despite the obvious respectability of my new family: My father in-law (who we affectionately call abba) is an expert researcher and former journalist in Karachi who speaks flawless English; his wife (ammi) is the mother every child dreams of having.