Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Street where I Lived

Today while I was just listening to my old collection of songs, the famous song “On the Street Where You Live” from the all time classic and melody film “My Fair Lady” started playing. While it is one my best favourite, it took me back to the street where I lived as a five year old child, grew up there and then moved out as a young man to find avenues for my future life. And this post is all about the Street Where I Lived.

While I was born in Lahore, but it wasn’t after five years that we finally came back from Sargodha and Karachi to live my next fifteen years in a house that my father owned on the street I am going to talk about. Just adjacent to the famous McLeod Road of Lahore, it was a non-paved street ( as were most of the streets then in the very early 60s). So everybody would sprinkle water in front of their houses in the evening, and being the youngest in the house, it was my duty when I was about 10. In front of our house was an old “Haveli” where an assortment of people lived. It was a small community and everyone knew each other well. In those days, the Sui Gas had not found its way to our street, so we fueled our kitchen with the kerosene oil or the coal. Nor the present AC (alternate current) thing had found its way to most part of Lahore, so instead we had DC (direct current), something that perhaps many a people today won’t even know of.
Life continued as few years passed by and then one day we heard that our street is going to be paved. There was lot of enthusiasm and excitement when we also heard that before the work on the road began, the Sui Gas line will also be laid and connection provided for domestic use. So the machineries moved in, earth dug up and gas pipe line laid along with a Fire Hydrant, something that I did not know before so my father told me that this device is to be used for filling up fire brigade vehicles in case of fire in the area which would save them from bringing water from long distances. And then the road was laid and there was no more sprinkling of water as the dirt had gone and so I was relieved of my daily duty.

As roads bring development in the area, one day I found carts and trucks coming and people living in the Haveli across “the road” moving their luggage and belongings and moving away. It was a touching moment as people I knew since my childhood were going away for good as I was to come to know that the Haveli was being demolished to make way for a multi story building with shops and flats. Once the vacation was completed, there came a platoon of labourers who starting dismantling the building and by and by the entire structure was raised to ground and over a period of time, the Haveli was replaced by a three story building. The beautifully carved wooden doors and “Jharokas” were replaced by steel shutters and glass windows. The road robbed from us the romantic neighbourhood with modern structure. New people moved in and by and by we started recognizing our new neighbours, as the memories of the old ones started to fade away.

The time came for three of us five brothers to move out of Lahore. The eldest Gul Hameed Bhattil left for Karachi to become a cricket man, married Razia Bondray (later Razia Bhatti ) and settled in Karachi forever. The second eldest and I the youngest moved north, me to join the Pakistan Military Academy and Zafar to join the Pakistan Ordnance Factories. The twins, Kamal and Jamal, remained back in Lahore (both graduates of the famous National College of Arts). That was the time in between 1972-75 that our association with Lahore and the street where we lived dimmed as we three from then on were to settle outside Lahore and would come occasionally on leave to visit our parents and walk through the street. By then the street had become very congested as on the ground floor of the new building, many a shops had opened up and there was noise of people coming and going reinforced by noise of cars and motorcycles. The once calm and quietness of the area had been taken over by the business noises.

Then it was the same place where my ailing parents left for their heavenly abodes one by one while all us five brothers had already moved out to other places due to compulsions of our jobs. When after my mother, my father also bid farewell to the street where he lived, the house was one day also sold off, bringing an end to my old association with the place and the street.

Recently, one day I took my two sons to the place for a last visit as now I had nothing left but my memories of almost four decades – which will always be there till I am as nothing can replace one’s childhood memories ever, specially of the street where one once lived.


Peter Dickinson said...

It is strange how a song can take us back. It happens to me a lot. I have only happy memories from songs though some will move me to tears. Thanks JalalHB

S A J Shirazi said...

You have made it very touching Jalal. I my self can relate to it,in my own settings.

Jalal HB said...

Thanks Peter and Shirazi

Anonymous said...

For a multitude of reasons, I have very fond memories of 54 A-5 McLeod Road. It was always fun to visit where I met my cousins; to walk through the colorful, winding streets of Qila Gujjar Singh with all it's sights and smells (mostly food). Indeed it was at 54 A-5, I heard "Speedy Gonzalez" and "Que Sera Sera" for the first time (records that an uncle had brought from his US visit). It was here that my brothers and cousins would don our deceased uncle's old army uniforms -- I still have the amusing photos of us kids in the over sized, vintage uniforms! These are sweet and sad memories of days long, long time ago; and ones I will take to my grave with me.