Tea at 4PM at Leads café!

by Liaquat – Pakistani poet/writer in English.

Sitting in Leads café gives pleasure of its own sort when you are done with day’s drudgery. Usually I repeat the activity as the day rolls down towards its final point in the University. Leaving my Department Office, having marked my attendance on the Bio-metric machine, I slowly amble towards the café which is the only place where I feel burden-free. Really and practically, there are ups and downs of serious nature in the university life. However, how pleasant I feel with a lightened heart and disburdened mind, is hard to describe.

Having paid for a cup of tea I make it a bit sugary, holding in a relaxed, right hand grip; I proceed to an empty chair. Then I put my bag on an adjoining chair, and tea cup on the table. I start looking at the world outside like a stranger, to whom the environment is all but new. Peeping through the big glassy walls I gulp down tea in slow, small sips. With each individual draught I find myself getting thoroughly involved in the activities around me. There were movements going on. As the clock strikes 4 all the employees hurry home. Some mutually attracted students, boys and girls, especially leave the university with nonchalant steps as some heart-felt attractions don’t allow them to move forward. Sitting in the café undisturbed when I sip tea with penetrating gaze which is riveted on every one who crosses the front door, gives me enough absorption of a peculiar sort.

By at this time, the interior of the café is almost empty; just four or five students sit munching something down their throats. The empty lounge has become a place of calmness at this time of the day. No flurry, no intervention from any side; instead, undisturbed peace prevails. Such a congenial environment pushes me out of my inner self, involving my eyes and mind into the sparse life that happens around me.

The real but creative joy is the thing I experience while sitting in the chair. For example, my mind stays on things that I normally ignore. Here and now, I watch boys, girls and teachers with interest and try to learn about their selves in a selfless manner. But in the afternoon, these people too are seen a bit relieved compared to their morning hyperactivity. The students however behave in a different way in terms of their involvement.

Interestingly, the leisure beats the hell out of me—the terrible hell of day’s work; the hell of teaching classes, marking assignments; and my variously burdened private self that distracts me from everything of worth. Honestly, the hell is like that of a possessed self, a being controlled from outside by some unwanted spirit. But the afternoon is the time when I can freely breathe, move my limbs and feel life in them. No doubt, the creative work done at this time becomes my true intellectual asset– the time that throws me into a thoughtful mood where my lips just sip tea and my mind gets totally lost in a world around me.

How fast the world moves before my eyes is something worth-watching. As tea is consumed by small sips so is the oldness of the world which is renewed by unbeaten ways. But it is taken in small sips so long as the sum total of experience stands there. The kaleidoscopic nature of this world of boys and girls may become a creative experience to some souls with its ever-changing norms. Its freshness can be a boon to some if they can draw new lessons out of it for their variously bruised selves. What they talk about; how childishly they gesticulate– could be something meaningless to a person who moves in the intellectual world of Plato and Greece. But to a man whose world changes with the wind, the world of youth is full of verve and vitality.

I cannot find maturity in their behavior or perhaps they are not up to digest the amount of maturity at their disposal. They can traverse skies if they can find glow in other things of metaphysical import rather than centering on opposite sex; or on earning the choice of a girl. The current world of the country could be too facile for them where tensions of bread and butter rage higher than have marred the creative urge in them. The ill-gotten wealth, illegality and laxness in social sense have made the world too easy for them. The real joy is gained when one’s higher self is applied to conquer Himalayan heights. In the back of their minds they are convinced that there are other roots to success than merely lawful. Unfortunately, they have drawn wrong inferences altogether. They have founded their dreams on very fragile soil.What they are doing, to me, is sheer waste of time but to them it is a serious matter of life and death.

But as the scenes change I become more involved. How one scene that looms in front of me alters into an interesting phenomenon? However, as I proceed into the situation I find that an apparently trivial happening unfolds itself into a serious incident that has lasting repercussions on the life of a boy and a girl. In such situations, sometimes, a mere acquaintance changes into a Laila and Majnun affair. But for all that cafés play the role of a Marriage Bureau, facilitating otherwise growing complications for parents. Old times are gone as a boy and a girl have to venture into creating a special situation. Some boys and girls behave as if they are not just friends but have crossed into a serious relationship instead.

Sitting in the café, drinking tea sip by sip and looking at incidents like this takes me back into my own past which was not as bold as the one I have just come across. At that time, I just lived, spending all of my energy on making my economic future secure. The existentialist questions never allowed me to have as liberal an attitude as that.

A university is a small universe where people work with different minds and where every person endeavors to get into the next possible advanced phase. Both students and teachers represent a new culture, always on the go. The old culture enters a new transition at every stage. Here the ambitions may bear fruit if the person spends his utmost. Because there are many a standing example around a person that may encourage him to become an influential motivation for others. In cafes, traditional food has altogether disappeared.

Maturity and modernity have been seen developing side by side. If modernity has no end the maturity too is endless. In cultures where free-thinking is the law of the land, modernity is a blessing but where there are barricades from place to place, cultural modernity bears fruit but slowly. It doesn’t seem that man will ever be able to reach some final point in this regard. But to an adult eye, the more modernity, the weaker the maturity.

These days it has also been observed that under recently acquired impulsive behavior, students indulge in strong antics outside the café; time and again a student is heard raising a slogan or they shout in a combined voice. And this happens momentarily. Once they raise a slogan, then they suddenly drop down to a complete hush. After a brief pause they lift their voice again to a higher pitch. It is not easy to give rational explanation of this kind of behavior. They look childish and raw as far as their behavior goes. Some laugh unnecessarily over nothing and without a reason; some bang palms on palms, just for the sake of fun. This happens so frequently where a group of girls is seen standing or sitting– a strange way of acknowledgement. This madness rules here and now.

But the books and classes are aliens in this atmosphere. No academic activity or intellectual discussion is either seen or overheard around. Only cellphones hang on their consciousness with clanging sound. Cell phones are helpful in promoting their young hood or their romantic ambitions.It’s an all purpose tool that satisfies their impulsiveness. This shows the way a student’s life progresses on so many campuses in local universities. How much do they spend on mobile billings is hard to imagine.

A true intellectual and a person of scholarly make-up will always support an atmosphere where students engage themselves with teachers in thoughtful discussions. It is imperative for students to keep themselves busy in doing research or reading books while sitting in the libraries.Otherwise, it is hard to differentiate between the environment in our street corners and universities. It doesn’t look sound to create an intellectual environment that poses a threat or that seems to be agonizing for common man’s outer world. Youth culture like that is dominant all over the world today. Some of its aspects are good but rests are disastrous for the collective life of a society.

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