Basant, Lahore and Love by Suleman Ali

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“Lahore runs in my blood. Even when I am thousands of mile away from it, I am still a Lahori who loves having Naan Chanay and swear upon basant. I hope many of today’s children are completely oblivious to what this name even means. For us 90’s children from Lahore, this meant life, day and night.

Before moving to newer Lahore, we lived in Gulshan Ravi where kite flying was a lifestyle. I had always been the studious kind for whom grades mattered more than anything. So as soon as I came home and had my lunch with buttered roti I would rush to finish my homework and school assignments so that I could fly kites in peace without mom’s ultimatums in the background. I was so obsessed with these colours on the sky that even my art projects of choice were related to kites. Isn’t it obvious that I ended up flying the same kites as I brought those home?

My father himself was a huge fan of this craft and sport. He even knew how to get rid of the kite flying cuts on our hands through warm water and salt. Basant was celebrated religiously in our family with the whole roof echoing with the cries of joy and victory over cutting an competitor kite. It was a family festival where everyone came over enjoying the dhol and kites.You could not even spot the sky as it was all filled with colours. Such was the passion that even our nights were days with search lights and kites.Every small shopkeeper in our neighborhood stocked kites and related material in abundance in those days. The economic activity was always at its busiest.

When termed as a Hindu tradition and hence a religious crime, I have no clue how a colorful kite lighting up the sky shake someone’s belief system. Now when the entire country has been turned into an unseen jail by labeling everything with kufr and bid’at, I often wonder the childhood we are gifting to these new age children. Will they ever have the memories that I have to share or will express how much they scored on an iPad application?Glad to come from a generation which was the last to witness these glorious remains of its culture. Little do I know if I miss Lahore more or the Basant.” – Suleman Ali, (UAE)

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