Ayesha too has her prejudices about Hindus. But, to some extent, we have been able to set them aside and bridge the religious divide. The present conflict doesn't bode well for Hindu-Muslim friendships in the future.

Hindu and Muslim leaders in the region frequently call for peace, but are almost always misunderstood or dismissed as having political agendas. Political reconciliation between India's predominantly Hindu government and Pakistan's exclusively Muslim government seems unlikely in the current escalating environment.

I would like to think that Hindus and Muslims throughout India could take the first step in overcoming their prejudices--much as Ayesha's mom and my mother did--and form relationships, if not become friends. I just wish I felt more optimistic that they would.

At this point, the only hope for Hindu-Muslim reconciliation has to be from the ground up, from friendships struck by individual Hindus and Muslims, and from grassroots efforts by small groups. And it may take more time than we have.