It was in the year 1993 when newspapers and I mean news in paper, or to be more precise printed on paper, the Editor opened a debate “Should cars be banned from cities?. It was quite appealing and set me wondering.
The title and the invitation to write both brought nostalgic memories. My own Rawalpindi was a peaceful sunlit city, moderately warm during summers and lovably cold during Winters,many years ago. Looking down the memory lane I remembered the hand-in-hand pairs walking from our school, the Presentation Convent, to the Plaza Cinema to see some of the great classic Motion Pictures; the tonga ride to school and back was a wonderful experience, the shining leather bridle and reins, colorful ribbons by the horses ears,clean and freshly painted carriage and the loud clanging of the bell inspired a lot. The clippety cloppety speed of the horse was so balanced, one could view the whole world at a glance and also gather details of the wayside panorama as one went along. The air felt fresh and clear and one enjoyed learning. School was wonderful too, bags were light but minds and spirits were full. Roads were walkable and they were roads!
Over the years one finds a tremendous change of scene,there are more cars than roads,roads to learning have vanished as learning centers have increased, things seem to be moving in the opposite direction.
I found myself reversing my small car in front of my daughter’s school daily, to make space for my daughter as well as for other cars, of course; my daughter had to dash across the road or squeeze herself between two bumpers, the front bumper of our car and the back of someone else’s.
Well, it’s dangerous! No wonder Michael Jackson had realized the dangers a child faces in the world of today. I watched closely, peering over the tops of other cars disregarding the beeps and horns of other vehicles, refusing to budge an inch, till I see my little one safely enter the school gate. I had strictly advised her to keep as close to the wall as possible if she values her…school… her …life. The ‘corn walla, roasted corn seller Pathan was least disturbed and I must say that he was a brave Pathan.
Cars and cars all around, red, blue, black green, er… dark green.These were mostly coasters and jeeps, and now yellow, the fever was rising…Invasion !
Would banishment be the answer.? It was decided to ask the cars themselves.
‘Here’s a red car, sad looking Alto’. ‘Well, excuse me dear, how do you find the yellow brick road these days?.”
‘Oh the yellow is all right. I have a new friend but our feet wear out so soon and lately I have developed an asthmatic problem, no oil has any effect and I am trying to get a new vacuum cleaner from my cousin abroad. But you see the tele, I mean the phone is important too.It’s so lonely without it but it does give a back ache. I guess cars should stay, it’s only that they should stay clean ! And I mean clean, CLEAN’ No monkey business, that’s it’.
© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar