Awhile ago, I decided to take my children for their first ever train ride – and unlike I thought or was expecting a great enthusiasm from children, I found them not so keen to look out of the train window and enjoying the fast running objects that we were leaving behind – just like our memories.
And while the train gained momentum, a parallel train started running in my mind – a train of my memories of a child who was so excited on his first ever train journey from Karachi to Lahore decades ago. It was Tezgam, the then elite train of
and we had a compartment all for ourselves – we five brothers and our mother. And then on I traveled in trains many times, specially from Pakistan to Lahore , where my father was posted, for quite a few time. We would board the then newly commenced rail car service from Rawalpindi early in the morning and reach Lahore by . The whole journey still flashes in front of my eyes every now and then when I peep into my memory lane. Rawalpindi
OK!! Back to my train journey with my kids to
. I had a camera and would snap everything that attracted my attention. And then on one station, I spotted an old man (pictured above) sitting on a heap of old rails, a cigarette in his hand and staring to his right. And I froze with my camera in my hand. There sat a man at the fag end of his life, very poor in appearance and perhaps still with a hope. Hope that is always more brilliant than one’s memories. Karachi
I could imagine the rough times the old man would have had all his life and was perhaps still hopeful of a better day – a better tomorrow. May be waiting for his son who had gone away to a far away place or a foreign land to earn a few bucks more. Waiting for him to come back and be his strength. But may be his son had more on his mind for himself and his wife and kids rather than his old father. May be he had almost forgotten his ancestral home in search of a new abode for himself and his family. And there sat an old man in waiting – long and tiring.
This happens almost everyday – parents abandoned by their children, to find unexplored avenues for themselves. And parents, old and weary, are left alone with the memories of the days when their off springs were young and their giggles would brighten their hearts even if they hadn’t had much – still they had the wealth of love. Love of their children which never diminished. And when every one of the off springs had gone away, the old man and woman would sit in a dimly lit room, looking at each other or just staring on the ceiling above recounting the good old days. And the memories become dearer and passionate when one of them departs, leaving the other partner lonelier, desperate and lost.
While the train moved on, it sliced a part of my memory behind at the place where the old man was sitting. And the emptiness in my mind from where the portion was sliced would remain empty forever – reminding me of the old man, his quest for hope and his treasure of memories.