A diverged family converges at Harvard Law

2 min read

It wasn’t inevitable that Harvard Law School graduate students Erum Khalid Sattar and Rebecca Zaman would meet so soon, or even at all. Sattar has been at the law school for three years, pursuing a doctorate in juridical science (S.J.D.); Zaman arrived in August to begin a year of study for a master’s in law (LL.M.). Sattar is from Pakistan, and studied law in London; Zaman grew up, earned her law degree and completed a judicial clerkship in Australia. Then again, they’re about the same height, with the same dark brown hair, and that might not be just a coincidence.

In August, a few days into LL.M. Orientation, the two women shook hands and said hello at a Graduate Program reception. “If we hadn’t been wearing name tags, what happened next might never have happened,” says Zaman.

“My surname is Zaman, and it’s a very unusual surname for a white-appearing Australian to have,” explains Zaman. “So when they saw my name tag, a lot of the Indians, Pakistanis and Middle Easterners asked how I could have this name. When I met Erum, it was very similar.  So I said, ‘Oh! My father’s father is a Muslim Indian from Hyderabad.’ And Erum said, ‘Oh, what a coincidence. My family was from Hyderabad, before they moved to Karachi after the partition.’ And she laughed, and said, ‘Maybe we’re related.’ We both laughed, and I said, ‘Maybe. It’s a strange story.’”

Read the full story of the cousin’s meeting on the Harvard Law School website.