Barricaded Heart

By Sonya Rehman

Spent the entire morning with my mother on Mall Road; for my ‘last’ photo-walk of sorts – I leave Pakistan in 11 days. We spent a good hour at the Lahore Museum, walking around, taking photos – throughout, my heart was so heavy about leaving Lahore, my home, my family, my dogs. We drove down Mall Road and my mother kept slowing down for me so I could take photos of the GPO, the Lahore High Court, NCA, etc, saw barbed wire everywhere; barricades, armed cops with their walkie talkies amidst sand bags, propped up outside each building, each college. Everything bolted up, fear – fear in the air. But it was such a beautiful sunny, windy day – spring in full bloom, really. It was beautiful.

And then, the news of the suicide bombs blasts outside two churches in Lahore – scores killed and injured. There’s a thunder storm outside right now, such an angry sky set ablaze. Heard Pakistan won the match too. Life, as it is, is hard for Pakistanis – we’re on auto-pilot 24/7, life’s tribulations can’t be endured for long, emotions are a luxury, grief, sorrows, joys, we only allow ourselves to feel fleetingly, that’s what enrages me, I want to luxuriate in grief, I want to lick my wounds – for once – and heal in my own time, I want to feel joy and let it linger damn it, I want to allow myself to be hopeful, and not feel so jaded and anxious all the fucking time – I love this city so much because it represents my family; I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m so angry and sad this evening. How much more can we take? No wonder we enjoy fantasy so much, no wonder we get so embroiled in living pay check to pay check, in wedding festivities, in the ‘dikhawa’ culture – there’s immense pain bubbling just beneath the surface, it’s in you, in me, this is mediocre living, no, this is death, this is nothing-ness, living on the precipice of madness, chaos, madness, how much more do we endure, and for how long? What if our wounds never heal? What if, what if, what if. We’re failing each other, we’re failing ourselves.

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