By Shaheda Rizvi, Canada
Editor’s Note: Shaheda Rizvi lives in Montreal, Canada. She remembers her house and dog (“Tommy”) in Westridge, Rawalpindi in 1950s.
We lived in House No. 125 Westridge, Rawalpindi back in 1950s. The grounds of the house were a little heaven for all of us. Examining my love for Rawalpindi , which has really never left my side, I feel convinced that to love a piece of land, or anything for that matter, you don’t need to own it or possess it, you don’t calculate its value — Loving it means you are possessed by it. There is something mysterious and mystical about this connection. Chief Seattle’s letter to Washington describes my relationship to the Pindi soil, and a few lines from that are most appropriate here: “What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.”
Summer, it was almost gone. We all had our fill of the finest fruits in season. Jammun was my favourite but very difficult to pick. There were many other fruit trees asking for our attention. The best way to pick our fruits, at least from the grape fruit trees, was to climb up the tree, adjust our weight and carefully position our feet, and then reach for the fruit, pick it and place it in a knapsack. Most days, we could collect twelve or thirteen grapefruits —- there was so much else when it came to vegetables but that didn’t require our tree climbing skills.
Autumn with its pretty colours and sweet scent of dry leaves was here. My mother had completed her knitting tasks for the year. Most of our sweaters, mufflers, gloves, even socks were hand-made.
Knitting was my mother’s hobby and she purchased all varieties from a wool vendor, who travelled from house to house, carrying a tin trunk full of gorgeous yarns of hand-dyed wool. Our wool vendor’s trunk was a Pindi-home-bound woman’s dream. There were wool yarns from Landi Kotal; muslin from India and nail polish from markets in Peshawar…all he had to do was unveil little by little the various layers of his cave of jewels.
The year was 1958. My father had his transfer orders and we were getting ready to leave the land of our dreams for a fast alive and tremendously sought after city (at least that’s what I was told). All our belongings were carefully packed but there was ONE that never crossed our minds. Our most adorable dog “Tommy” who ran behind our Tonga from Westridge Road to Rawalpindi Railway Station, oblivious to his own safety, just one thing was paramount, that is, how NOT to part from those who little knew their own fate.
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