Rain is a song. No, not that raunchy one the greedy director adds to the dumb plot of the movie just to spice it enough to turn his junk into a profit. It is the song that takes some back into the past and others into alternate futures. Yet, it remains a song. All geographies and languages have a stash of songs on rain, quite befitting ones. When all those songs are played together, what would you hear? Exactly the sound that reminds you of the drizzle outside.
No two worshippers get the same reward even when performing the same ritual in the same amount. No two lovers get the same return even when loving the same focus with the same intensity. No two readers would come to the same meanings when reading the same lines. I don’t know what meanings would you draw after reading these words. Just like you don’t know mine. Or do you?
Is love in the air? Maybe. Or perhaps it isn’t. All elements including that of air and the others have been known to carry this emotion. Time, as ruthless as it can be, transforms the shade and the intensity of it making it invisible at certain turns pushing mortals to believe that it might have ended. These mortals then conclude that there is no love in the air. Some who were lucky enough to gather a following decided to summon it up on one day for expressing or for escape but they overlooked the fact that it’s one of those things that can never be bound to a moment. An entire life seems to be too little for it, let alone a day that comes every year. It is not just the air that has carried it. Ghalib mentions the faces of love that gave meaning to life vanishing into the earth. Time proves him timeless and right. There would always be love in and on earth. And as one version of the story goes, there lived two energies in a place called paradise who were madly in love with each other. The balance was disturbed when a third one was introduced resulting in the fire getting expelled. It was love that could not be ended. So the fire carried it along seeking vengeance. Rest assured, if you carry any or all of the elements, it’s already there contaminating the remotest ends of your soul and your life. But hey, just don’t buy flowers today, they are selling them at inflated rates.
I have never liked policemen. Somehow the law enforcement agencies in my country represent evil. If one half of law is the intricate system of judiciary, the other without a doubt is the system of police and other law enforcing institutes.No one can pinpoint to how a crime comes to being or how a criminal is made in the first place. There are examples of people who went to the wrong side just because they were never treated well on the right side. Look at the example of what happened in Sahiwal. What would happen to the minds of a youngster when he sees his parents shot to death in broad daylight by none other than the people who were supposed to protect them. The print and the electronic media are the two main sources which are keeping me updated on the incident and how it is unfolding in front of our eyes. Shock and grief are the two emotions which have spread throughout the country but we as a nation have weaker memories and tomorrow we will forget what happened. The tragedy of a dying breed whether it is a dying breed of an animal or an art or a nation is that they never remember those tragedies which happened to others but they only remember the ones that affect them and those too on an individual level. It is our personal interests over the national interest which has divided us to a level that now there is no going back unless we cut back on our greed. This very greed of us is what has us divided in the first place. It is our greed of life which makes us afraid of these monsters in uniforms. We see everyday the policeman searching civilians in the name of law the so-called snip checking. Still the crime rate is high and people are afraid more from these traders of law who were supposed to be protectors. I still remember the man who used to sell fruit-juice in my neighborhood. Because he was too friendly with a policeman he had to suffer a fatal wound when that policeman was attacked in a targeted attack.
Just imagine witnessing a car travelling on the motorway carrying a family with women and children in it. Suddenly you see a police car chasing them and then blocking their way. Out jump those masked policemen who would shoot a spray of bullets on that car killing the members of the family instantly without the intervention or thought of law, logic or humanity. There are no external reason why other nations fear and scorn us. It is our own hypocrisy whether it comes to the system of law or the system of justice or the system of religious equality and social justice. We are hypocrites. You can never argue with a bearded trader of religion because there are so many educated and cultured blind following are crippled wheelchair wala who easily label you as a blessed famous and then send you to a harsh end. Luckily the bastard is behind bars as of this writing. But every monster comes out in a weaker system. It is so easy to just blame someone of a serious charge like blasphemy and then settle personal scores. The tragedy is that in a country of God, I found no God. You never know when some mullah might blame God for blasphemy or when a policewala shoot him.
How many times do you realise that few moments do exist when you wish for a thing and it comes true. A few weeks back the itch to quit everything and visit the mountains or go to Lahore or to do both took a hold of me. Life gets strenuous and grey yet here I am sitting at the very same table in the same restaurant from where we used to have our breakfast. I cannot find any familiar face so far. Maybe somebody is searching for me and cannot find a familiar face either.
Yes, a new year demands a new flow. But every time I move the current year to an archive, I start feeling like an old ghost. Or maybe is it a ghost haunting me. A chudail perhaps. No, the chudails could never be one. Never.
After leaving the hostel, I went back one day. It was deserted. Due to a holiday I was able to find a chance of going to Lahore. I hoped to see and feel all that used to give pleasure. And bits of pain too. As that pleasure and pain were so abundant back in the day, I thought that they would never end. Death is, therefore, the ultimate reality that was specifically designed to not let man become God. It makes him understand the ephemeral nature of his own self, his life, and everything that makes the life beautiful. The staff of the hostel knew me, so even being an outsider, technically, I was still able to reach my old room. It was locked. Obviously it meant that I could not meet the one soul I had come to meet. A few hours were at my disposal as I had to pack and catch the flight and head home. I wanted to live that years of happiness I experienced in the earlier days in a few minutes of reality. The door always had a paper plastered on it which we used to convey messages to the guests and the delivery guys. Thought some of them did containing an “assumed” artistic beauty, some were outright nasty, obscene and classless. Some were life lessons and enlightenments. After I left, a few more words were added.
Scrolling through the pictures yesterday, I came across the photograph from that day. That locked door with the message was a turning point of life. Or maybe the turning point of life became a door itself. Even today I seek the answer.
After twelve years of love, the old flame still keeps burning. The sting of nostalgia and everything associated with it is always hard to give up. Like an old city where a person has lived keeps calling him. Again. And again. And yet again. The old city of Flickr.
I still remember the time when sharing a picture was more of a problem. It was a bigger problem than taking a picture and transferring it to your computer was. that is why more genius people started thinking of a cure and came up with a wonderful service called Flickr. The solution was remarkable but the only shortcoming that I faced with it was the number of images that I could share with someone else was limited to 200. But even that did not stop me from uploading the images as I knew that all the images were safe. At least I intended to get a paid subscription in the later years when I can happily enjoy all the pictures that I have uploaded to the service. Many detailed articles on the Internet talk about how Yahoo purchased a vehicle and then destroyed it eventually selling it to Verizon after a data breach. But even Verizon could not contain the fallout and the fiasco led to people leaving Flickr. The love for photography has not died, at least not yet. That’s the reason why I was hopeful when Smugmug bought Flickr in 2018. They have recently paid attention to all those free hoarders which we can find in almost any community and any service who are there only to pollute the beautiful walled gardens. Just look at what they have done to Facebook Twitter and Instagram. These were really good places just like mountain towns. Now the crowd has destroyed them. The same crowd found free enterprise-grade storage of 1 Terabyte on Flickr. They were the people who were least bothered about community interactions in photography. They just wanted a place where they can store their photographs and delete them from the computer and save some space. I remember once a property broker came to the hospital. When I asked him where he lived, he told of an average neighborhood just to keep his low profile from all the extortionists. A colleague added, “Why is that posh town so expensive?” The broker replied, “The taps don’t push out milk in that area. The price exists just to keep the filthy poor out.” To this day I remember his ideology. Free is what made Facebook filthy, Android filthy, Twitter filthy, Instagram filthy. You will never find Bahria Town filthy, DHA filthy, Cantonment filthy, etc. Flickr was great. Then the free-minded settlers moved in. This recent price tag push will kick them out just to let those who care about photos stay.
It is a good move in the long run. Technology giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook or even Microsoft should introduce a bundled service that packs some services under one roof. Only if there existed such a service that had a section for all the tweet-like statuses being streamed and a blog section for longer blog posts, a photo drive where all photographs one has ever taken are saved (in their original quality) along with those cherished screenshots and a video drive where all the videos are safely backed up. Those who care about their data would move to this amazing town instantly. The service would be more ideal if a personal domain could be linked to it. It is quite possible and eventually, someone is going to make this dream a reality.
Flickr may start looking like a posh neighborhood in the future. But that is what I fear too. I seek peace and harmony that was destroyed by free hoarders. My experiences are riddled with dust collected from the surroundings from Saddar Town and Walton Colony to Nishat Colony and Old Anarkali that if life moves me to a palace, I might leave the fancier walls when everyone else falls asleep, sneak out, take a ride to that part of the old city, sneak into my old home and fall off to a peaceful sleep on the cold concrete floor.