April 12, 2024
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Exposed to weather!

Liaquat – Pakistani poet/writer in English.

That day I was just a passer-by. The cold weather forced women folk to go out. Avid groups of young women buyers were on a serious venture to shop around. To visit Landa Market was their goal.

The brunt of this winter was being felt as one feels the doomsday. Cold along with fog and sunless days have been too harsh and pressingly demanding. The city dwellers do shopping on and off but today, majority has come out not as fun seekers but the ones who mean business. There are indeed some for whom shopping becomes an extra financial burden when weather wants extra care.

At a sizeable distance, one could listen to the loud but tempting voice of Landa Wala (used clothes seller) who looked a bit more excited today because the foggy chillness and the cold, cloudy atmosphere was more toll-taking than anything else. The freezing air went into making his day. The hardness of voice and movements of his hands and limbs manifested that he would sell his articles at a higher price today. He had felt the weather conditions and gauged the mood of the market. The good quality and wide variety of his articles and above all the leaning propensity of the customers all went to favor him.

Today, he has occupied the adjoining place a bit more, displaying his articles from east to west of his stall. The winter colors and warm articles seem to have spread all over the place. Therefore, he is seen ruling the day. His lust for business is slightly exaggerated today. He wants it to extend beyond the boundaries of seasonal regime. His desire must be to become ultimate winner– the maximum profit gainer. His vested interest is so strong that he would like to be the star of the corporate world. To him, the cold is feverishly titillating. The inclemency of the weather is on his side which has put a dictatorial accent in his mouth. The weightier becomes his pocket, the heavier is his accent and louder is his voice.

“What are you doing my boy? Don’t relax. Be my boy today and Keep an eye on the customer; rather invite them to visit the stall to see the articles. Don’t let them bypass. You have to act like a seasoned businessman.” Flatteringly he instructs the sales boy today.

Those who boasted of their pockets approached the stall and bought their choice pieces. They were confident of their swollen pockets. But at a bit elevated soil, there are a couple of ladies, perhaps mother and daughter, standing and watching with eager eyes. At the same time, they couldn’t stop listening to the threatening voice of the seller who shouts like a warrior. Both the ladies were famished by the unwanted distance, struggling hard to get nearer the shop to take a richer look at the stuff but something more serious had arrested their pace forward. Time and again, they listened; made up their minds and time and again indecision overpowered them, pushing them back. Both stood close to each other, face to face rather negotiating the price between them and; at the same time, too overcome by the quality of the stuff and the high price.

The market has always pampered the inclined buyers. From London to Beijing it had been unkind to those with less heavy pockets. Both, mother and daughter, luckless and less market worthy, have come out in the bare, cruel world of money making. The voice of the shopkeeper, the soaring prices, and the varied stuff had left them stranded. There were increasing movements every minute but the two beleaguered ladies couldn’t move a single step.

Both rotated their ground as the earth rotates around its sun. Perhaps all are convinced that the circular movement is meaningful–from energy to food; and life to lease. It looked that in their minds they had been talking over the price and the quality of the material. But quite contrarily, in the back of their minds winter loomed large. They were indeed the women of their orbit. Because of the weakness of their pockets they were perhaps helpless against the pull of their desires. But the gravitational shine of materials stopped them from leaving their ground. But with much ado, they decided to return home. Downcast they were and not victorious. Both their dreams and esteem got hurt and confidence shattered. There was indeed a passive lamentation over their moneyless helplessness.

The next day when the mother was basking on roof top to render cold ineffective, she was absorbed in the previous days’ happenings. Meanwhile, a bevy of all white pigeons flew past overhead in the dimly limed horizon. Fogginess all over the sky. And whiteness matching the color of the pigeons had spread over.

“The cold atmosphere perhaps is a boon to the birds.” She pondered in her heart. Lying down, her face up on the cot, she felt the grandeur of their flight and the expanse of the horizon. They scooped past as carelessly as an arrogant horse rider, ignoring his rivals. The natural freedom of the birds had a heavy impact on her imagination. The only question that had bombarded her mind was, “what these birds feel when they fly in the air? Does a group flight allow them to feel so low, being creatures of the earth?” The open air, free of barricades and turns, ensures free, smooth and unmonitored flight. She thought.

But deep in her consciousness there are some lurking fears caused by the flesh—that haven’t allowed her personality to grow vertically though she had had good qualifications but failed so far to make good use of it.

She often used to think of her role in her family and society at large, having present day needs in mind. “What role have I played in promoting life? She seriously thought of matters like that. She had a feeling that our senses perceive things imperceptibly when we have acquired a mind so corrupt.

She used to tell when all her hands got busy with things that gave others life-sustaining props: cooking food, caring for the little ones, suckling children and singing lullaby to the little annoyed souls. The meaningful past to which she was variously tied couldn’t have given birth to pleasures of the present. On roof top, she was pre-occupied with her unconscious self—a deep reverie indeed had kept her connected to all the abstractions and obscurities that make life. Her role has been as dynamic as of a wife:

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?

She is more precious than rubies.

Her husband can trust her,

And she can greatly enrich his life.

She brings him good, not harm,

All the days of her life.

Her mind was not with her for the time being. As pigeons flew past her roof, something gave her an exclusive focus. “Why these pigeons fly so fluently and so smoothly? Birds are perhaps swifter and more focused than human beings who are destined to have inherited dilapidated attention. How great and perfect they are as they fly with measured sense of distance and direction! They are nice space travelers whose flight doesn’t trespass others’ zones. They can easily move their eyes in their heads from object to object. Brilliant navigators! They enjoy the joys of a unique, natural life which has put freedom abundantly in their system and the willingness to make good use of it. What has made them so direct? They neither sow, nor harvest. They have been decked with perennial shining clothing. They wear just one- all- seasons attire. The worries of winter and summer are too far away from them. Their dress never gets old nor does it lose its brightness. How magnanimous is nature to them! But can man be a pointblank navigator of his environment? Can man go here and there as freely as these birds do? How the entire system goes against him in materially modern world? Life has been so unsafe is hard to imagine. Such worrying thoughts put man on trial for life. He is lost in the web of his needs. She too was lost in her thoughtful cogitations.” But these make her routine reflections.

“She thought, life was overly costly and worrisome. How birds and humans live their lives?”

To her, birds live a life free of cost and being shorn of paralyzing worries. When there is no pricing no worrying. The market economy does tax city life so heavily and the continuation of a reasonable civilization has become a hard nut to crack any way.

“How life of these tiny creatures is being pushed ahead and who does it, was a tough question for her?”

She ponders these things and something relieves her consciousness. Then she proposes an answer to herself, saying that there must be some internal mystical assurance that keeps birds so confident. This makes her feel proud of the amount of stability provided in imperceptibility in their layer after layer existence. Again she was convinced that we humans are totally confused about our living since its inception in the time immemorial. Blindfolded we enter the new world of earthly life. She was pained to learn that humans unthinkingly keep consuming their lives on artificialities that do not make the essence of life. Instead, more time, energy and peace are wasted on the things that do not make the fabric of life. But if there are more leanings towards maintaining minority things, more unsafe and unprotected we become. How humans have gone too far away from what matters and which holds life together. A concerted effort is required from man to fight the clutches of ugly reality. But not for a single moment has she been without the pressure of such questionings.

“What if birds leave their habitat and come down to become partners of life with men and women? Wouldn’t shame and self-recommendations spoil the peace if the pathway of life gets replete with barricades here and there? Wouldn’t the social behavior demand all this? What will happen to the title, being civilized?” One thing for which I am so worried is that human civilization is in jeopardy; whereas birds have maintained mutual respect by caring for one another’s rights. Never ever they would have disrespected one another by using insulting words. Their heavenly culture is stronger than that of humans, I guess.

She believes that relations matter a lot in life and they start at the ground like a sapling that grows in the soil but moves upward; whereas the blurring fog spreads all around as water does. Likewise, our relations start from individuals to nations and then to countries and continents. The more one is outspread, the more soft and malleable one becomes and sense of social life is augmented by this way. The other name for dryness is rigidity that keeps man low and limited. Peoples have failed to comprehend the definition of life except a few chosen ones. So far Darwin and Existentialists have given the world single dimension of life’s definition. To live for others, to feel for others, develops in man the features of matchless character. An individualized definition of the promotion of the self is a modernist interpretation of life but it is destructive to the collective existence seen in a larger context.

Now as she lies on the roof, feelings get richer and richer. She is more metaphysical in her understanding of things around her. She finds the sight upward more amusing to sore eyes. How the whiteness at a certain distance mixes up with the silvery light of the fog and the sun which touches the place with selflessness and naivety, making it more suitable for the supernatural beings. Really the merger indicates loss of the identity. Higher at a certain distance the birds will altogether disappear, gradually thinning out into nothingness. The meekness and natural timidity of the animals force them to be one with the world of atmosphere, a place full of peace and tranquility. Absolutely clear it is that their physical existence, they lose—the material hardness dissolves into nothingness during the height of their flight; the fog and whiteness of their complexion turns their bodies into atmospheric glint. Like mystics they disappear in the height of the sky.