There’s something about your hometown that’ll always hold your heart. It doesn’t matter what your relationship with the damned place is – it always holds a piece of you in itself, a piece that you can never get back, for better or for worse.
Lahore doesn’t just have a piece of me. It has my heart. It isn’t just me, though. With a city like Lahore, you have to step but one foot into it, and it’ll reach out and grab hold of a part of you faster than you can leg it out of there. There’s something about it that no one can put a name to, but it’s so overwhelmingly existent that you seem to drown in the spirit it exudes.
And it’s beautiful.
You feel alive. You feel centuries of history, of culture, of art just rush through you; it’s as if someone injected the entire timeline of Lahore into your veins and you feel like you’ve lived through it all and the subsequent sensation of love, of joie de vivre suffocates you in the most incredible way possible.
Lahore is art. It’s modernity. It’s the aroma of Pakistani cuisine. It is the neverending struggle to keep a country afloat in a time where everything seems to be disintegrating. It is the heart of a nation of sheer, passionate willpower. It’s everything a city should be and yet so ethereally different in its inherent Lahoriness.
I have so many memories in that city. Of huddling close under the shelter of our car porch, eating warm shawarmas from Cock n Bull while the monsoon rains rage and thunder for our entertainment; of going out at midnight to McDonald’s for food because why the heck not?; of driving past the anderoon shehr and marvelling at the sheer grandeur of a city that was the seat of an extravagant, powerful empire; and of simply breathing the air of the city where the Land of the Pure was brought into conception. Heartland. The cultural capital. That dialect. The poor and the elite. Paan-stained sidewalks and willow-adorned roads.
I want so dearly to go back so the rest of my body can reunite with my heart. I have learnt to make do, and I aspire to go elsewhere, but I will never forget where I’m from. And I will live in my Lahore someday.
My children will breathe the air of a city so old that the very trees whisper stories of the trademark Mughal flamboyances and the mystics’ songs.
I promise I will be back, as long as Lahore pumps blood into the country it loves.
Lahore Lahore hai.