Monday, 25 March 2013

Lahore: Garnished with a Green Sprig

Lahore: A Green Sprig for Garnish

As gently as features of a picture develop on photo-paper dipped in developing solution, domes and minarets shapen on the skyline. The city shakens itself free of the gray winter blanket. Bit by bit, fuzzy abstractness densifies into crystalline distinctness. Colors deepen out of the memory of the city. Lahore is suddenly the child that knows all its poems by heart.

Spring takes off in my city.

Air dances up and down the streets. Idle boys yell as a street batsman hits a ball and it goes flying to the sky. The hero glances at the female audience watching from the roof top. His eyes meet his favorite girl's and a promise is made.

In a nearby park, perched at the extreme point on an eagled-out branch of the magnolia tree, the grasshopper ogles its stiff-lipped lover with a fatal, bulgy-eyed wanting. The air is loaded with love and every being in the garden is planning when and where to plant the perfect kiss. The gardener frowns as he bends on the bed of petunias and peers at an early bud - the only one that has opened. No less thrilled than an expectant father, he searches the newborn for a sign that would affirm that the seed was genuine. A smile dawns on his lips. (Yes! It's plum with flecks of lilac! It's mine!)

In a posh mansion, a garden party reaches its crescendo. They are giving birthday bumps to the effeminate dress designer. "Ooh! Aah!" the designer bawls and everyone goes crazy with laughter..

Right outside, on the grassy patch along the road, a scavenger boy takes a break from his trash hunt. Lying crosslegged, eyes half-closed, he dreams of bulky trash baskets.

There's a big brouhaha outside the shopping mall. Yet another designer has launched her latest lawn-print collection. Uncouth housewives and sophisticated socialites all jostle for position near the sales counter. The combative ambience, the voluptuous want, and the cut-throat desperation...only cowards will return home empty handed. A seemingly composed shopper who's been watching the melee with distaste, mumbles 'Crazy Lahori Women' and bulldozes her way through the humid crush to the flowered and birded heaven on fabric.

Eyes fixed on the kiteless sky in the hospital window somewhere in the city, a kite-loving Lahorite breathes his last.

In a school close-by, teachers teach little children how to make unfliable, legal kites. The illegal ones, the ones that flew, can be painted in the drawing class, they say. The air sighs as the sweeper sweeps away the animated effigies; sad, cartoonish relic of a historic beauty.

On the Canal Road, a moron poet kneels down at the edge of the canal and searches the inverted under-water world. Behind him, poplars rustle as the breeze brushes past. In the dappled shade of the trees, coins of light dance and play. The poet bites his finger to stop his heart from bursting of ecstasy. A moan is heard through the rustle. He looks around and sees some chopped trees piled nearby.

"Don't cry!" he says to the chopped up trunks and looks around. On the clearing, where these trees stood till last week, a bill board has been raised.

'Keep Lahore Clean and Green'.

The poet reads aloud and laughs. he laughs till he falls on his back and rolls from side to side. Thousands of marigolds flocked along the side-walk raise their heads and listen.

A just-migrated, hungry villager walking past wonders what a marigold flower tastes like.

The echo of the moron's laugh rings out far and wide. Sleeping deep down in the soil, summer stretches its legs, readying itself to rise and rule.

So, as long as it lasts, dear all, enjoy Lahore garnished with a green sprig.