Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel stand guard at the India-Pakistan Wagah Border post, some 35 km west of Amritsar, on February 27, 2019. Pakistan and India said on February 27 they had shot down each other's warplanes, in a dramatically escalating confrontation that has fuelled concerns of an all-out conflict between the nuclear-armed rivals. / AFP / NARINDER NANU Image Credit: AFP

According to a lot of people back home, I’ve grown up differently. What I mean to say is that my view of the world is different. It is not a unique position to be in, especially in today’s time. I grew up in three different countries, during three different phases of life. But growing up in these diverse places also involved growing up among different people, different festivals, different food and traditions. These experiences in many ways have erased what ‘borders’ represent for me. I forget to think that while I am not mentally bound by a border, many other people don’t think the same.

These physical borders appear time to time, to remind you of their presence, especially when you travel. A good representation of such a border is the painfully long queues for immigration, after a long flight.

But for me, there was a better reminder of these lines, and I saw this in the last couple of weeks. Being in an Indian household, the news was being followed very closely over the last week. A long running argument with our neighbour hit one of its roughest patches. There was a lot of noise. There still is a lot of noise, and everyone has heard it too. A pilot was captured. A pilot was going to be released. The noise continued its climb to an eventual crescendo. And then we saw the visuals. The world saw it. You saw a pilot, an air force man, a man ready to die for his land, a husband and a son. We saw this gentleman return home. And home would have been a total travel distance of one step, but it was a step into another, completely different county - all thanks to a border. This step was important because two entire nations were holding their breath. Friends, families and countrymen were in this together, from both countries.

For me, his step realised, reminded and re-instilled what borders meant. The fact that one step meant so much was relieving and shattering. One step was a reminder of how close we are and also a reinforcement of our actual distances. As Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed the border, my world shrank just a little bit... and so did my heartbeat.

- The reader is an analyst based in Dubai.