if there is one piece of land in this world which i can occupy without fearing eviction, its in Muzaffargarh…hundreds of people sharing most of my DNA live or lived there…countless vacation, whole months of them, were spent in its serene sanctum….while rest of the sunbaked southern Punjabis headed for the Northern areas to seek reprieve from searing heat, we almost always took the reverse route, leaving our official residences in the then NWFP to vacation in this scorched spot….
the only thing this district could boast about, was its wearisome constancy…uff, year after year, for more than two decades, we were treated to an unchanged landscape…sand is nature’s shape shifter but the natural laws apparently don’t apply to the sand dunes of Muzaffargarh..to my eyes the sand dunes located on the disttt outskirts (5 minutes drive from the jute mill) always appeared exactly the way they i left them, even tyre tracks of our old jeep quite distinguishable on the summit of our favourite peaks….the only change was pretty recent, a new bridge (constructed only when the previous one started shaking ominously) and a bypass road, that was still underconstruction..
the one endearing feature of the city was its endless supply of mangoes…super yummy mangoes!..of all kinds, shapes and sizes….Since God generously bestowed some mango trees to us, we took particular delight in visiting our khoo…playing in the tubewell was the best entertainment of all!!..once i almost drowned while playing dead body..yeah,interesting game i tell you, you hold your mouth open, submerge yourself till your chin and extend your arms and then look at everyone with your half-closed eyes..
the place was so removed from risk and dangers faced by the rest of the country that the incongruence was almost laughable…the closest the Muzaffargarhis came to action & adventure was during the frequent Army exrercises at Muzaffargarh ranges…even i have witnessed the troops movement at night…long lines of trucks bearing soldiers and tanks, crawling slowly on that shaking bridge, while the civilians yawned silently in their vehicles waiting for the Army to pass, which usually took hours given the strength of military convoy….about a decade ago the same sight of the camouflage green evoked electric enthusiasm in the people, but gradually it was replaced by mild or even wary interest only occasionally punctuated by salutes from eager young kids…
but now when i see Ban ki-moon visiting Muzaffargarh and i hear tear-streaked saraiki “sada sub kuch sailaab ich lurh gaya aay” then i yearn, i yearn for that monotony that once defined my city…oh please Muzaffargarh, return to your old dullness, your lovable constancy…please please never be this interesting again..
Pakistani flood survivors collect food relief dropped from a truck, in Muzaffargarh.
all we need is a bit more of this sharing spirit and we have it made 🙂
images: Dawn Multimedia