Heart of Lahore

by Arshiya Kausar

In the heart of the old city

this chowk stands

on remnants of the past

emanating the essence

of culture and history

of a country once

undivided.

The buildings

fading

peeling

dirt-ridden,

speaking of art

and  architecture

made by the hands of a rich Empire

that merged within the stylized concrete

the secret

to stand the test of Time.

The intoxicating air

of pepper and spice

sends consuming flavours

on smoky winds,

luring natives and outlanders

to taste the traditions of the city

harboured long

by this incessantly demolishing chowk.

And mingled within is the alluring scent

of agarbatti

that seeps in from the chowk’s

dismal graveyard

located so mockingly in the midst

of all commercial pleasures

of the living

that line the streets of the chowk.

Labourers of steel and wood

toil in rhythmic routine

and in neighbourly fashion,

all aligned in a clustered row of shops

downstairs.

And upstairs reside beings of ‘NEWAGE’

who know not how to live without

the music of horns and traffic

on the ever-crowded road,

all living similar and different lives

in one historically forlorn building.

You should see how the chowk

reflects life

each night

as it lights up;

cinemas, outlets, dhabas,

with neon colours

and stringed bulbs

that entice

the bustling people

to roam the chowk’s streets

in some comatose ritual

practiced innately

by citizens of this city.

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