A café for dreamers, maybe

January 23, 2022

Community spaces such as the great, olden Pak Tea House serve to nurture the dreamers among us. But do we have many such places around?

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Pak Tea House. — Image: Courtesy of web

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities,” they say. Indeed, dreams are an important part of our lives. Dreams give ignition to the hearts of poets, and indeed it was a dream that led to the birth of the country that we live in. But have we stopped dreaming?

I was born into a family of dreamers — or daydreamers, as most would put it jokingly. They are the kind who would get lost in their thoughts while sitting in a room full of people. It’s a sign of insanity, some might say; after all, sane people do not get teleported to another world while sitting in the here and now, do they?

My grandma is too optimistic, and would like to believe that this trait which makes our Muhammadzai clan of Akora Khattak distinct from others, albeit in our hometown.

We hail from the town of the Pashtun warrior-poet — nay, the great dreamer — Khushal Khan Khattak. Our family relocated to Lahore many years ago. We weren’t descendants of the great poet, but we related to him in spirit by virtue of our capacity to dream.

I personally believe that many dreamers in our family died unsung. Perhaps, because they were held guilty of being unconventional; and their souls were destroyed by the frustration and agony that followed.

Imagine a spread of coffee houses and tea parlours across Lahore, where mushairas are relived while Ghalib’s deep-set eyes peep out from a giant painting in the background, or Faiz Ahmed Faiz stares down on the left-leaning, as they say.

This is not just the story of the Muhammadzais of Akora Khattak, but the story of many clans and families in our country. The pressure to accept the reality others have created for us and the general contempt for the realities we dream to create is what has sealed the fate of our country. No wonder then that pessimism darkens our skies.

Our nation’s talent looks to run away to places where they can let their creative imaginations run wild, while our social fabric continues to disintegrate amidst the well-heeled politicians sucking the blood out of their countrymen with impunity.

I see two polar ends — in one world, a child is forced into labour to feed his family; in the other, he goes to school to obsess about good grades and nothing beyond that. Life goes on, pre-determined by the ones who pull our strings. The bird is let free, but its wings have been severed.

If the government is too non-serious and our educational curriculums too faulty, that’s where community spaces like the great, olden Pak Tea House come in. Surely, these places serve to nurture the dreamers among us.

But do we have many such places around? I doubt.

Imagine a spread of coffee shops and tea parlours across Lahore, where mushairas are relived while Ghalib’s deep-set eyes peep out from a giant painting in the background, or Faiz Ahmed Faiz stares down on the left-leaning, as they say; where the oppressed can exchange ideas without an iota of fear; and the likes of Al Bairuni serve as an inspiration to the students of science quietly speculating on unexplored laws of nature. A café for dreamers, maybe?


The writer is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at York University, Canada. He is also a freelance writer, and tweets Khan_Bahadur



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