It has been exactly 30 days since our separation. This is neither the first nor I think the last time that we have separated. To say I miss you will be a lie. Missed are those who are forgotten, you are an integral part of my existence. How can I forget you?
For the last 2 years or so I had been a part time resident. I flew here and there but always knew after a few days would return to Lahore. No matter how tired I was, you made me feel alive!
This time however I have decided to move homes.
My new home has made me reflect on the city I have loved the most. As a child Lahore was Paris for me. I did not dream of visiting New York or London. So complete Lahore was as a city for me.
I remember the day fondly when Walls ice cream came to Lahore. I recall Burger Eleven, to date have never had burgers as yummy as were served there. Then there was joy unlimited at Joy Land. There are many precious memories of my childhood and college days associated with Lahore.
Then one day just to become more enlightened I went far away from you. Europe was enchanting yet it never made me think Lahore was less enchanting. Years of studies kept me away from Lahore but not for a minute did I think of not returning to Lahore.
Then I returned exposed and unwillingly and sometimes not happily I started questioning whether Lahore despite its grandiose and generosity was still an urban village. Did the Moghul buildings have the Lahoris trapped in thinking that they were the invincible emperors of the world?
The enchanting Europe did not make me ponder over Lahore because it seemed a destination unachievable for Lahore. It were the South Asian cities that me me think whether Lahore mesmerised by its gardens, universities, fly overs, cafés and shopping malls has assumed its excellence.
For its inhabitants,Lahore is better than the crime ridden Karachi or the sleepy Islamabad or the antiquated Peshawar. But is it really the heart of Pakistan just like Colombo is of Sri Lanka or Dhaka is of Bangladesh.
My South Asian friends get impressed with then blend of modernism and culture of Lahore. Lahore has the apparent affluence to dazzle anyone but Lahore has the potential not only to dazzle but to influence the thinking and actions of all Pakistanis.
In my childhood Lahore was my London. Till recently Lahore was as brilliant as London but on reflection Lahore has a long way to be London. To be London, people of Lahore have to accept that their thinking has been caged by the reckless injection of steel in its foundations. It has become self centred and snobbish.
Whereas Pakistan struggle, Lahoris take solace in the thought Lahore is peaceful.
Lahore for me will always be the city that on any day can give me energy but I want the energy to spread beyond Lahore. I want Lahore to be the heart that pumps the energy of Pakistan, that helps Pakistan become a tolerant enlightened cultured developing country.
And I want to return to a Lahore that brings smile not only to me but to everyone in Pakistan.
You are my love Lahore but to love you blindly will be to let you and my dear Pakistan wither. To constructively objectively tell you how you can be the love of every Pakistani will be to let you and Pakistan blossom….and that is the Lahore and Pakistan I want to return one day inshaAllah!
Come on Lahore!