A couple of years back when we still lived in Islamabad, my sisters and I used to take long walks. Going from one street to another we’d keep on talking, unmindful of the time or the people around. From those idle hours of late summer nights, I got to know much about my sisters because at home we rarely talked. In our story of a happy family, God assigned the role of introvert to me. My childhood days went by reading ‘Family Atlas’ and ‘The Night Sky’. But at nights, I used to hop along my sisters flaunting about the Great Sahara or the constellations they would simply interpret as baskets or bizarre flowers.
The sector’s marketplace used to be our starting point. That jammed up street next to the ‘muhallay ki masjid’ fascinated me a lot. Although there wasn’t much save for a few inadequately supplied shops huddled together, but that street hosted life to say the least. People going on and about their daily routines, stopping only to share a word or two on weather or politics. The lingering whiff of crisp naan coming out of tandoor – so fresh that you could almost taste it, the snipping of the barber’s scissors – the way hair fell down, the clicking of the calculator keys – the sound of cans protesting against each other in plastic bags. There was a perfect tune to all of it…
One night, my sister said, “Several years from now we’ll all grow up and leave this place only to come back and realise how much everything has changed. Maybe these shops get replaced by a bigger and better mall. How much different everything would be then. We might not be able to even recognize this place.”
Today standing in the same street, I realize how much my sister was wrong when she was right. Everything is the same but everyone has changed. There is no big mall; in fact all the shops are still there, but the people aren’t. For better or for the worst everybody has moved on. Even I’ve grown as a person. I recognize this place, just not the people I see. The only thing I know is that everything eventually changes even if apparently all remains same.