“Memoirs of a Man” by Muhammad Aarez Ali, Lahore

Lahore,Love and Heartbreak July 12, 2011 00:05

topic: LOVE & HEARTBREAK medium: TEXT

Remembering the warmth and protection of my mother’s womb, I cried. I was in a strange new land, experiencing things that I had never felt before. I cringed at the noise that surrounded me; strange hands carried me away from my comfort zone. It wasn’t until I felt my mother’s soft skin, her gentle hands and her aroma that I realized that I wasn’t alone; I was part of a greater whole. I hadn’t even seen her but I could recognize her through the texture of her skin, the gentle variations of her sound as she lulled me and the warm smell of her loving embrace.


Over the course of next few years, I familiarized myself the part of the world I called home. I touched brick, wood, soil and plants with my hand and touched the stars and the moon with my eyes. I smelled the cellar and the attic. I heard water dripping on a metal surface and I got burnt by fire. I tried unsuccessfully to reach the bolt to the wonderful room that housed all my toys and crawled up the staircases. School brought new avenues to explore, new people to meet and etched fresh memories into my mind. But the one new word that was to be repeated for the rest of my life was ‘pressure’. Homework, uniform, etiquettes and rules governed the world. All was not well at home either. My elder siblings were there to bully me and criticize my every move. My younger brother deprived me of some of the love and attention that came my way.


All these troubles seemed petty to the Pandora’s Box known as teen ages. I felt wonderfully free, yet restrained. I had boundless energy but it all vented out quarrelling with everyone. Everyday offered new opportunities but doors closed at the same time. I wanted to and felt I had the power to change the world in my own image but frustration quickly caught up as people refused to listen to me. I felt alone, different and asked questions regarding my sanity. But there were positive points too during that depressing period. The first movie I saw with my friends without my parents’ approval, the rare moment where I actually managed to make my family proud, and my first crush. Mostly her memories are a blur and don’t evoke much of an emotion but sometimes I can clearly remember her beautiful face with that angelic smile which is always fixed to that face like a moment frozen in time.


The next few years took the panache out of my life and I began to settle down. Often I thought of reenacting the craziness of youth but wilted down under other pressures and expectations. The same boundless energy was still there but it was ever more restrained and guided towards other ‘pursuits’, most prominent of which was to achieve a respectable financial status and then some more. Amidst all the darkness that surrounded this single, relentless and frustrating pursuit was the brightest point of my life; I loved and was loved in return. But it seemed so much unlike that first crush. Instead of a moment, it is like a constant reel of memories which flood my mind; some are blurred while others are as clear as daylight. The musical laughter with an abrupt ending, the perfume she always wore accompanies these memories. I still remember the feel of her soft skin against the palm of my hand. That love climaxed in the form of a family and a life that was orderly and peaceful with few disturbances.


Many years were spent following the same routines until the death of my parents. Lowering them to their graves is one of the most profound moments of my life and also proved to be the last straw for the rigidity that my life had forced me into. I was suddenly acutely aware of my own grown-up children and my balding head. I was desperate to run away from the confines of my routine and the family whom I still loved dearly and drown in my own reverie. But I lacked the energy to try and change and despite all the thoughts that suggested otherwise, left my life to the mercy of time and kept on dreading the future.


So this is where the future has brought me to and it is almost the way I imagined it to be. Here I lie on my deathbed, weakened in body and mind through years of disease and the loss of my loved one, feeling like a newborn yet to feel his mother. My only comfort is the presence of my love who has grown old with me and the wrinkles on whose face mirror mine. She bore witness to my pains and joy and I to hers. Our lifelong companionship has left its marks on both our bodies and souls. We shared our lives together and now we crumble together.

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