Emo Ode #33 to Lahore

By Sonya Rehman

Lahore you have broken my heart. Obliterated it. Since 1983 and counting. You are in the poorly-lit Cantt street where the neighbor’s cook carries a bottle of flat coke in a Rahat packet, in the chilli yellow lights arranged in a wreath on an old pre-partition home (same street), that looks like a mini stable where chocolate brown horses – well-groomed – were once kept. Lahore you have torn me apart in your judgment of me, and yet you have shown me glimpses of acceptance, community, in the most unusual of faces, places. Lahore you have healed me – given me scarcity when there was too much scarcity, when I felt I was truly forsaken, dismissed, but in that you taught me self-reliance like a cold-hearted parent. Lahore, you are in the dhol-wallah’s aura, on Main Boulevard, as he takes each day at a time – playing his dhol for a quick buck for some roti, and if lucky, a boti. Lahore, you are riches without solace, poverty on the brink, and sadness flirting with hope, Lahore you are a ravaging pit, where stoners, drunks, continue living with their parents, terrified to leave the nest, lost, drunk in comfort.
Lahore, is this all? Is this all? Lahore, you have broken my heart, obliterated it since 1983, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, these streets, these roads, etched in the palms of my hands, every jagged edge a memory, a mistake, a lesson, a new beginning.



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