By Sonya Rehman
This year, winter in Lahore seemed half-baked (thank you global warming) and somewhat unsure. It was almost as if winter, a crotchety old man, had trouble deciding between a hearty rain shower and dry, cold spells. This has been evident by the face of the sky as it randomly begins to switch from a warm, sunny (yet wintry), a rumbling cloudy and a parched gray.
The fellow at the control panel must be having a field day chuckling away at the weather men and women running helter-skelter with their weather reports/forecasts (that have to be painstakingly revised each time the sky changes expression).
But the crux of the matter is this: Lahoris love their rainy days. And the reason is pretty simple. With Lahore’s arid, flat lands, rain brings with it a carnival of merriment. Spirits reign high as sheets of rain slice through static air and wash clean the dusty, cantankerous and rather lethargic Lahore. I seem to be in love with the city each time the clouds unleash a bout of sporadic drizzles — whether ‘raining cats and dogs’ rain or the quiet ‘pitter patter’ kind. It makes me think of pea green hill-stations, Kashmiri chai (pink and steaming hot), long mountain treks, warm homemade chocolate (the ‘mooshy’ kind), mud-caked sneakers, toe-socks and private bonfires.
It is all quite endearing. And in this ‘weather celebration’ of sorts, fresh pakoras will be fried, arm-chair activists will loaf about on their verandas and discuss the current state of affairs, the kids on the street will play games following along the lines of “who can make a bigger splash” by jumping wildly into rain puddles (whether big or small), days will be taken off from work by calling in ‘sick’ (‘Yes sir’, they’d tell their bosses, “I’ll be as fit as a fiddle tomorrow!”) and artists sprinkled throughout the city will have surges of inspiration. Yes, it is all quite endearing.
And with each season, I’ve discovered how the facets of my city change with the weather. How the city’s inhabitants too, change. It’s like these wonderful auras of light — of both the stationary and the living — amalgamate.
It is in this city that I see a crippled dog (making her way from one end of the road to the other – in search of food) on my way to work, the fancy ostentatious cars, the grim faces, the happy ones, the hardworking ones and the corrupted ones, the shiny billboards and the smog, the shops full of foreign brands and the heaps of rotting filth just nearby, the homeless and those ‘settled’ yet wanting a way out of the claustrophobia.
It is a city with loopholes as wide and as gaping as its pot-holes. And this morning, as I looked over at the main page of the paper that I had held, the caption: “Another 13 killed in rain-related incidents” seemed to jump out, silence and further reinforce my helplessness.
This city, this rain…so bittersweet it is.
Shehr, The News