M A Soofi visited Lahore a couple of years ago with a peace delegation from India. This piece recounts his instant judgements, sympathetic comments and insights on Lahore. This contribution to Lahore Nama is much appreciated.
Life by the Canal
The Daewoo van left Wagah – the international border separating India from Pakistan – and was now speeding towards Lahore, some twenty miles away. A canal was gushing forth on the right side of the window seat. Flowing between two parallel highways, it remained a constant companion.
Grassy patches sloped down to the banks, which were occasionally being lapped over by a sudden violence of the frothing mud-colored water of the canal. Tall trees on either side formed a comforting canopy over its length.
A variety of haiku moments flashed past the air-conditioned window: buffaloes swimming in the waters; a green-turbaned Mullah lying on the grass and reading a book; bare-chested young boys splashing water on each other, their shalwars ballooned with water; fully dressed women blushing, laughing, and taking quick cold water dips in the canal; a family contentedly feasting on a picnic lunch, with men and women sitting in separate groups; a young man and woman whispering under a tree; a lone man throwing pebbles in the water; two woman holding hands and sitting quietly; a middle-aged man resting against a tree trunk; a pair of boys washing a bicycle…
Soon these enchanting scenes vanished. The fallen leaves, languidly floating on the water, gave way to polybags and tin cans. Lahore was approaching. Continue reading