Niaz Zaman’s tender portrayal of an old lady reminiscing about her first love and how politics changed her life forever.
“Yahan koi ladies hain? Are there any ladies here?”
“Nahin, laikin main hun. No. But I am.”
“Can I sit here while you get ready?”
“Is your wife here?”
And the dream breaks. I am in my bed in Dhaka not in a room of the Pearl Intercontinental in Lahore, waiting to join the family at a festive dinner. My mother, who had passed away thirty years ago, was there. But there was no one else I knew. My husband had passed away five years ago; my sons were grown up with families of their own. Somehow, I had the feeling that I had no ties to bind me to anything. I was free as I had never been before. You looked older, with a white unkempt beard. Strange that I recognized you. Had I changed? I could not have looked like the young woman you last met more than fifty years ago. You asked me if you could sit in the alcove and wait for me while I changed. I asked you about your wife. You asked me about my children. But neither your wife nor my children were there. Just you and me – outside a hotel room in Lahore. Inside the room, on the bed, a red Benarasi sari was spread out ready for me to wear – but you had never liked to see me in saris, especially with a teep on my forehead – so why was the sari there? Next to the sari was a jarwa set – a gold necklace with nine different precious stones, with a pair of matching earrings and a bracelet. But I didn’t wear the red sari and did not wear the ornaments next to the sari.