Oblivion: A Short Story

And then the plane lands at ALLAMA IQBAL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LAHORE. The urban skyline was indeed a  mesmerizing treat for his eyes, this  was not his Lahore, the city where he grew with children of his age, where he spent hours  running between rickety lanes of his neighborhood. Deep down, he could still feel that sudden surge of emotion, he often wished to let loose the child within him, somehow he manages to remain composed at the airport. All through his life, he felt an eerie unfamiliarity with Delhi, his home & ‘refuge’ of past seven decades. This old, frail man was approaching the dusk of his life, with an able son by his side today he was to fulfill his life’s greatest longing, to visit  his ancestral home before he breathed his last. Time flows incessantly, unhindered & unobstructed, the deep scars of life often vanish as people turn oblivious. In his senility, he had almost forgotten those scars of partition, the bitter memories had turned into an afterthought today. Keeping all those chaotic emotions behind him, he was to undertake an arduous but still a joyous journey. At times the complexity of life can barely be expressed but,  it can always be relished . This day he shall savour everything that life shall offer. Those Pakistani cabs are famous not only in Pakistan but, also in London, New York & Toronto for their ‘expertise’ & ‘hospitality’( you see, sometimes hospitality is inhospitable), boarding a yellow cab the old man in his Punjabi baritone gestures the driver to take him to his ancestral home. The typical cacophony of a sprawling urban centre, impatient souls honking, clogged & congested streets were quite similar to Delhi yet, there was an untamed association. Lost in the myriad of thoughts he would often lose track of time. The streets were now no more the same, the walled city was  another ‘concrete jungle’.  The elegance of Badshahi Mosque &  Alamgiri  gate were still awe –inspiring  yet he could hardly comprehend the drastic changes visible across the city, uncommon faces seemed to populate his ‘dear’ city. Finally, the taxi comes to a screeching halt & here he was standing across the neighborhood where he would often buy sweets from  that old & abnormally panting hawker, the sight of  him would turn every child in the lane running in frenzy like moth towards flame.  By now he was shivering  in ecstasy  & exhilaration as if he could relive those days. The shiver then suddenly ceases sometimes, the tempest is too ferocious to withhold , & he allows emotions to overwhelm. Tears run down his eyes, the memories of that  fateful day begin to haunt. Frenzied mob of zealots, butchering people mercilessly approach his home, that ominous thumping is still too fresh to forgo. The ordeal of his journey to Delhi, where death felt the easy escape was no less than a manifestation of hell is better left untold. And then the frail man realizes that life was still beautiful,  lamenting over past is way too easy.  Living with scars of life is resolve of character, few realize it & even fewer appreciate it. This day  he did learn his piece of lesson which he shall not forgo.


© Haris Ahmed

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