Friday, September 23, 2005

Bombs in Lahore. But bombs don't explode in Lahore, they do that in Karachi. Karachi's the unsafe place, not Lahore. Karachi's got that smooth path or scar tissue on the road outside the Sheraton; Lahore hasn't any scratches and scabs like that. Bombs don't go off beneath jewellry stalls in Ichhra and the only people who die violent deaths around Minar-e-Pakistan are the people who're committing suicide by jumping off it. I mean, everyone goes to Ichhra, and Ramzan's close so lots of people do a significant bit of shopping before it to get ready. You can't just go and kill six people like that and send countless more to the hospital between 11 and 12:30 a.m. People are working, running errands, getting ready for lunch, praying Zohr around that time. Lahore is not the place where you look beneath your seat for a suspicious briefcase, Lahore's the leafy, laid-back city where rain or a car accident is the biggest instigator of a pronounced response to anything...not bombs. Lahore is not confusing like this.

And a delegation of beaming, excited Amritsaris carefully stepping over the border into the city that houses all of their history; breathless with wonder, asking where Aitchison is and whether the canal was in fact the Sutlej and if they'd have to say salaam and walekumsalam and shabakhair to everyone. I feel proprietal, suddenly, watching them walk towards us from their lion-pillared gate, step through 'Toba Tek Singh land' and into 'our turf'. Our land, your land, it's just a white line on a stretch of concrete, it's only another country that's closer to LUMS than my house is. Lahore is their crystal ball, their real-life Scherezade, the place where their history books are born from. I feel proud, proprietal, nervous, wanting my city to please, to awe, to inspire, to leave an indelible kiss on the mouths of their minds.

I wonder what she's thinking, my city of gardens.

Mina at 11:15 PM