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Ichra, home.

Moments before you're about to go to sleep, you find out there's been an attack on policemen in Ichra, Lahore, by militants.

Ichra, the place you call home.

Our earliest memories are tied to Ichra. Our last, I predict, will belong there.

My mother moved there, a young bride, before she left for UAE with my father. My chacha studied for dental school there, and met his now wife at the college.

Across the alley, was my great grandmother's house. Down the lane, another great aunt's.

There was an S, painted in bright blue, on the stairwell of our house, which we grew up gazing at.

The culprit behind the painted S were my chachas Ifti and Shehzad, who I never met. He died, in 1981, in a traffic accident. With his brother, Shehzad.

Our family drifted apart, then came together, then drifted apart, then came together.

When we were nine, we moved to Ichra. The school van came to pick us absurdly early -- 5:30 a.m. on some days. There was no running hot water, and my mother stood watch over the stove, as the water heated up on the stove on cold November mornings. The sehan was our playground, where the tiles were the perfect set up to play hopscotch. In the makeshift study, the old cuckoo clock rang every hour.

The kheer was a favourite amongst the cousins. There was the halwa puri wala at Ichra mor, and the fried fish wala at the corner. Then there was the haleem, and the chikkar cholay. There was a Lahore Broast across the street, and a choorion ki dukaan nearby.

Years later, my uncle told me of our neighbours. Geo's Iftikhar Ahmed [of Jawab Deh fame] lived down the street. There was another journalist who lived nearby, who broke the story of the children who were carpet weavers.

My grandfather is buried in Ichra. So are my chachas.

The last time I was there, at the graveyard, I didn't know what to say. The next time I was in Lahore, I made up excuses to not go back, to not have to go to the graveyard, to not have to walk over the paved pathways, that didn't remind me of home.

Now, I wish I was in Ichra.

Reader Comments (1)

Had to go out and stand in the rain!
May God bless you and your entire family, Hamesha!

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaved

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