Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our last night in NY and my love letter to Lahore

Last night, the Acumen Fund had its annual Investor Gathering, where the Acumen community assembled in order to celebrate the past and upcoming years, and to send the Acumen Fellows off to our respective countries (Kenya/India/ China/Pakistan). The ten of us are flying out today, so we presented “love letters” to the cities we will be meeting in less than 48 hours. While I should be able to post video footage of all the Fellows soon, I wanted to share my letter before I board my flight in a few hours.
Dear Lahore,

You were the girl that I was never supposed to like
The relationship that was never supposed to be
No, not a great way to start a love letter, so let’s start with history

Black American
Christian community
Unrepentantly republican region
Teachers who think Pakistan is actually Afghanistan
And a heart, that is already in love

In love with the Mathare slum of Kenya, and the 20 guys on my football team that launched an internet café this past July in pursuit of dignity. In love with the 10 widows in the Kibera slum, who struggle from HIV but are brave enough to create their own businesses, feed their children, and invest in their future. In love with the highschoolers that I tutor in the Tembisa township in South Africa and the kids that I coach in Harlem.
In love with
My 7 month niece
8 adopted siblings
2 parents
80 year old grandpa
and handful of extended family and friends from California to Costa Rica to New York

So in love that I’m scared to love another
Scared to take on another’s burdens
And even more scared to share mine
Scared that love spread thin really isn’t love at all
And to be honest, dear Lahore, you seemed okay with that
The car bombings aired on TV, the kidnappings posted online, the wars screened in the cinema 
All seemed to send the same message
That you weren’t that interested in my love

But then I started listening
·         not to the naysayers and their bombings
·         or the news and their kidnappings
·         or the naïve and their wars
But to you, dear Lahore…
To Dr. Ahmad from Pharmagen
To Asim and Zahoor from the 2010 Fellows class
To my brother and 2011 Fellow Khuram

And I started questioning…
What does poverty and injustice look like to you?
How does happiness and laughter sound and what does family mean?
How does love feel and
Does God really look that different to you?
And quietly, dear Lahore, you’ve started to answer
And quietly, dear Lahore, I’m falling for you...

With constantly growing love,


  1. Dearest Benje,
    Lahore will love you, because she will recognize a sacrificial love that knows no boundaries and is limitless. May God continue to fill you and use you and challenge others to love Him more.
    Momma Markou

  2. Dearest Momma Markou,

    Thanks so much for all your love and support! You're so amazing, and your thoughts and prayers are such an unbelievable encouragement!

    Can't wait to share stories soon :)

  3. My dear Benje,
    You are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. May God keep you and use you in a mighty way.
    Love you,
    Mary Roberts

  4. Thanks so much Mary, you guys are the best! Hugs to the whole family for me!

  5. Hey Benje,

    what an awesome love letter!

    All the best,

  6. Thanks Suraj, can't wait for you to start blogging again!

  7. Dear Benje,

    Great words man, they only scratch the surface and they definitely inspire.

    Keep writing. We are reading!


  8. thanks Katz, just trying to catch up! see you in Hyderabad/Bombay soon!

  9. I'm a pakistani living in england. And it was a letter from George Fulton that had this affect on me and now yours. Lahore is a wonderful city full of the best people I know
    Hope you have a good trip

  10. thanks so much Ameera! I remember reading a letter from him last year in the Tribune - So brilliant.

    Best of luck in the UK - Come back to PK soon!

  11. I love this! This perfectly sums up my bittersweet ambivalence towards this city. I was also compelled to write it a letter some time ago.

  12. thanks so much! love your letter as well - very bittersweet!

  13. absolutely beautiful letter, god bless