Autumn daze

October 18, 2020

How would October mornings be different from those of January, except for the shadows of closely-strung cemented structures growing longer, for a winter sun is shier than the summer one

The cityscape of Lahore at dawn these days is soaked in ombré shades of peach, lilac and heather. The analogy of a painting would hardly suffice to compare, for the stillness of a frozen canvas is not quite capable of evoking what the constantly shifting pastel shades are, on a sheath that looks like the sand dunes of a desert in one moment — ones which suck the hand in their entirety, and the frothy waves of the rippling sea in another — ones which come crashing at the feet smugly enticing one to follow them deep inside the billowing domain.

Within a couple of hours, the ripples concentrate to form cloudy masses, yellowing around the edges like an aging pillow. Around the same time, the ombré in the sky transforms to a commonplace beige — a shade somewhat similar to the skin that forms atop a forgotten or partially ignored cup of tea. Such is the fickleness of human sensory perception that once the magical sights vanish for reasons as daft as passage of time and adaptability, one loses interest. Within days the ombré shall be swallowed by a grey blanket and the city shall disappear behind the shroud.

If one lives in the dense neighbourhoods of Lahore, how would be October mornings different from those of January, except for the shadows of closely strung cemented structures growing longer, for a winter sun is shier than the summer one.

If one is lucky in Lahore, one gets to have a stroll among the trees — be it in the meagre number of parks or those neighbourhoods which still make space for thick and thin trunks flaunting massively feathery hats in shades of green dusted with a layer of fine cosmetic powder that does nothing to further beautify those evergreens that shall not be affected by the seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as Keats wrote of autumn.

The trees are still alive in Lahore. They look like turbaned pedagogues contemplating in silence, maybe the kind who have been engaged in a tiresome duel of philosophical paradigms through the night and are now solving mathematical theorems in a wakeful part of their brains while they appear solemn and asleep to the one with a limited eyesight.

The breeze seems like a messenger among them, one who takes forth and brings back messages and in doing so plucks off a thread from the turban the trees wear — a leaf or two actually. The breeze carries the leaves, flirts with them, tickles them softly so they giggle and keep abound to the flimsy, faceless, whimsical medium. Is it theorems and paradigms that the trees share between on another, always? I wonder. Who knows, each leaf could be hiding in code a poetic verse, demanding a reply in verse again, as happened in poetic duels of yore. Or a note of angst exchanged between lovers, one that reaches the beloved and slips from their hand, to the ground. Is that why they call it fall, too?

My linguistic capacities fail me at this point as I try to figure out why call a season fall when it is brimming with hope of rebirth and absolute promise of life after death. It’s a season that exemplifies letting go of strongly held currents that are bound to pass nonetheless; a season so poetic that the distraught find a soulful companion in it and the contented trustfully snuggle in its bony structure, believing the sights, sounds and shades shall be back because autumn is when a part of Nature takes a break.

Fall has such an abrogating nuance to it. Suddenly all the falls from the English class begin to clutter the mind: fall out, fall over, fall into, fall through, fall apart, or just fall, when in neither case is falling a choice but an accident, maybe reached upon after a series of incidents that led to it, however, more dependent on magnetic forces; in this case, gravity.

The greens of Lahore do not turn into orange or red like the greens of Hunza do, or those of Gilgit. They either persist, if innately green, or undo their pedagogical turbans upon which are written secrets unknown, and one could only wistfully wish to find out what at all, for they are blown away or crushed to fine powder which shall settle on the new leaves next spring and become the ink with which coded secrets shall be written, again.

The writer is the author of two books of fiction including Unfettered Wings: Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Women (2018)

Autumn daze