Ayesha Ahmad: ‘Lahore is an Illusion, Lahore is Everywhere’

The mango tree faded many shadows ago, its fruit became stones and the branches became a skeleton. Yet, the roots remained, and they embrace the soil in the womb of the earth.

images-1

This was the cradle of my family’s birth.

Now, blood is watering Lahore’s gardens.

In sorrow, I remembered these words given to me a few days ago by my father.

 ‘Lahore is an illusion, Lahore is everywhere’

I wondered about them for sometime afterwards and I did not realise the gift that these words were to become.

Zmaka is a Pashtu word for ‘land’, and its meaning implies by virtue of the land, there is a connection to it. But what does this connection mean for us, especially when our journeys in life become travelling journeys?

I have listened to the stories of those around me, and I have heard the tragedy and pain of grieving for lands that are wounded by our divisions, and bleeding from the cries of the dead.

For Lahore, I tried to think of the poems and the prayers that my ancestors carried as they walked the land, and eventually, became the land.

I tried to imagine the forgotten soils, and the memories they remembered.

I wondered if blood and soil are interchangeable, can we become our land, and our land become us?

And now, now is tonight, when the land is turned into a grave and the violence against humanity is raw, imagine, just imagine, the world where borders, not peoplke, fall to the ground.

Then our lands will be released from our wars fighting for what can never be ours.

Then our lands will be free.

Then our lands will be home.

This is freedom.

This is connectedness.

This is humanity.

                  Lets’ remember tonight,  and whenever anywhere in our world is suffering,

Land is an illusion. Home is everywhere.