Dear Baela and Ameena,
It is two weeks that I left Lahore for Delhi.I continue to be in a trance.It was like magic,a dream I do not want ending.I am still dreaming with eyes open and shut.
I visited Lahore after twelve years and felt much water had flown under the bridges. Gleaming eyes and happy faces of children and young parents,endless ques at the gate and the festival of books inside.It wasa treat to watch young scholars vying to get to books, pamphlets, anything worth reading, listening, watching.The child in me took me to the puppet show, to the theatre,to story reading and video viewing and listening to students tearing textbooks to pieces,watching their unabshed enjoyable extempore presentations from the main stage parallel to the technical sesions by experts( Adults!)- the segment i had to miss( most of it!). I simply wanted to be whereever children were ,sharing the exciting moments they were experiencing.What struck me was the unhibited,cogent and discerning comments of girls from State schools.They were speaking to the Text Book Board officials as equals and made sure it was in English,least concerned whether they were speaking the Queen’s English or their own adaptation-they were making their point and powerfully too.
Looking at their hunger for more and more of books other than the dreary textbooks,i predicted in a session chaired by Zubaeda Mustafa-If any money is placed in their hands, they would buy books and not chocolates.This is what Baela and Ameena is your success,our success and fond hopes for a safe beautiful future for these young ones.Watching these young children was a feast- made me feel,the future of humanity is safe if left in the hands of these unsullied pure mindswho are balanced and eager to contribute.
Thank u fpr providing me the opprtunity to be in Lahore with all of you at the CLF-May it gain in strength and splendour and reach out every child in Pakistan.
I was able to visit my home at 7 Mclagan Road and Saima’s mother Naseem helped me find my school -in fact only a plaque saying these classrooms were built in 1918 and four rooms and the verandah outside my Principal’s office. And i found three old Banayan trees, now 64 years older, under which we sat having our tiffin- my sister,two friens and myself.It is Chistiya school now and the huge stadium and play grounds are now a Garden.We drove through familiar roads and places,the Lawrence Gardens,Golbagh,Anarkali,saw Govt.College where my father studied and YMCA where we played table tennis every evening.The Coffee House is still where it was.And ,the treat was visiting the shahalmi gate (as we knew it and not Shah Alam Gate!) inside which my grand parents had a haveli.I used to walk with my Dadi from our house at Mclagan Rod to Akbar Gate for buying groceries for our large joint household-would get a treat of puris ,lassi ,kulfi with falooda in the bargain.I was a very aware eight when we left Lahore on 8th of August,1947.
It was homecoming for me and I wished I did not have to leave.
Your Cousellar in Delhi,Abrar Hasmi had indicated that soon visa on arrival may be possible for 60 years+.That would be a bonanza for those who wee born on either side of the fence but are always yearning to visit their birthplace, for families split on two sides.Hope this provision is soon made for children and their educators.We are into business of improving trading of goods but not fostering love which one feels in abundance when u cross the HUDD. Hudd kar di Yaar!
Shall write a fuller account and send it.
Inshaallah phir milenge!