Author: The Last Woman PM
A short narrative. Captures the stillness and vibrancy of Lahore before it wakes up.Rated: Fiction K - English - Adventure - Words: 806 - Published: 05-21-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3024448
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A slight haze of violet and blue blurs the morning horizon. The abnormal activities have ceased and the unsociable strays with their quieted spirit stretch under the restless skies, dreaming, daydreaming. Outside the glare of the majestic Badshahi mosque, a clear streak of light is born and it weaves a golden web over the unmoving streets. Half visible shadows are starting to appear from every nook and crack of the Green City.
Far away, a young emerging figure rides a bicycle and his whistle echoes, hitting him back from a countless mysterious directions. Lost in the magic for one brief moment, he stops instantly and puts his feet on the ground. Stack of black and white newspaper sprawls everywhere. A security guard, tall and weary, looks for a chance and ambushes the paper boy. With a profound conviction that no suspicious activity is taking place, he moves back to his chair in front of the fancy restaurant.
The city wears a mask. December is nearly ending and the fog is enshrouding every tree, every being and every minaret. A short man with a thick beard tells the guard the time and enters the mosque for praying. It's seven in the morning. The guard slouches on the chair and covers his face with his cap. A solemn silence falls on the roads.
An hour passes, and the scene has changed. Children in colored clothes and uniforms walk to school, kicking every pebble and stone on their way. They giggle, tell jokes and read billboards in funny accents. A breeze is coming and it brings on the blank faces of the strays a beam of understanding and bliss. They stretch some more and look for their new morning jobs.
The educated have woken up. It's almost ten thirty now and they are parking their cars in random places in the food street and a place that is called 'Cuckoo's Den.' They will eat for an hour on the rooftop and then head down to the gallery of the artist where they will talk in alien tongues about the themes and the significance of art. Theirs faces are deliberately pale and they walk with a distorted western dignity. The strays are waiting outside with garlands of blood red roses and old newspapers. Women in loose veils and wicker baskets on their heads negotiate with a rickshaw driver, who spits out pan and shakes his head repeatedly. Cars, rickshaws, motorcycles and a few tongas appear in the scene. There is rush, an electricity in the once desolate arena. Men greet, negotiate and build animosities. Women exchange secrets, rumors and cheerful words. A pungent smell of melted paint and scorched wood taints the atmosphere. The factories stir. Its eleven now. The sun has become tense and the mask of fog has gradually lifted. The animals must work now. Carts are being pulled by devoted donkeys and horses. The vendors carry cotton, antiques, cane baskets, bricks and cement sacks to their stations. Headless trucks with pictures of fearless eyes of women and Bollywood sensations move swiftly on the roads moving in and out of the city.
There is a penetrating sadness on the other side of the road where fakir's, astrologers and palmists sit with their books of secrets, tarot cards and hopeless parrots. The business is collapsing they say to a young man who represents the media. A little further, is a very busy compound they call the Railway Station. The train cries in a metallic high pitched voice and stranger with strange faces climb hurriedly. The sky glitters outside as the sun blazes. Several men in red shirts carry suitcases and luggage of gentlemen, escorting them to the VIP lounge. The gentlemen's wives with hair like pine cones and mountain peak discuss unfamiliar subjects as they wait for the train to arrive. The wanderers look at the guests with a strange rapture. A group of young students are seated on the pavement with placards, 'Right to Education.' Policemen in their khaki pants strike their batons to assert authority. Young and tender flower girls in their blue frocks stroll around between cars and look childishly through the glass windows.
The post office is deserted and the red brick building looks over at the commercial plaza and ecstatic shoppers. Women in shuttlecock burqa with newborns in their arms circle around the shoppers whose faces dazzle in the golden light. The children are coming home from school with grazed knees and torn shirts. The security guard salutes at the new faces which are going inside the restaurant for lunch. The short man with a thick beard crosses the guard again and tells him the time. It's one.
Sound of Azaan penetrates the air. The strays yawn as the sun hangs low. The afternoon is approaching.