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The Colours Of Spring

By Rafia Saman


Lahore has a festive air in March. The scents of spring mingle with aroma of food as vendors of food around the city prepare to participate in food carnivals that take place in the city near Basant. The mornings are white and gold speckled with green, of course, as tiny new leaves begin to sprout on trees. It was Basant week at school. Elf-like little girls, dressed in traditional colors of Basant, decked with accessories danced in tune to the drummer’s beat. Darkness descended then and the gold, white and green were splattered with red as two powerful blasts rocked the city. The first blast took place at Temple Road and the other in an elegant neighborhood of Model Town. I frantically called my mother who often drives to her work via Model Town and was relieved to find that she was safe. The others were not so lucky. Four died in the attack on an advertising agency in Model town including two children. Their father’s legs were blown off. The office of the advertising agency was in ruins with holes where doors and windows had been. ‘We were not the real target. The bomb was probably sent to a wrong address,’ said the owner of the advertising firm. The images of Temple Road swam before my eyes. I had shopped there with my mother only weeks ago. It had bustled with people, sounds and business. We had come home tired and happy and switched on the TV. The TV screen flashed the news of Benazir’s assassination. Tears flowed as a beautiful life ebbed away and her last words echoed in our ears, ‘We will not bring hate, we will not bring violence. We will bring a message of hope and compassion for those who are poor, those who are oppressed and those who are disadvantaged’. And now the sirens of Rescue 1122 and Edhi’s ambulances blared above the din of the traffic on Mall Road as the dead, the dying and the mutilated were carried to the nearby hospitals. Terror had struck again as Lahore was earmarked for carnage. The colors of Basant were stolen and sullied. As I slept that night I dreamt that I was in a bus that flew over our house and was blown up in mid-air by a bomb planted inside. Two days earlier the police had found several hundred kilograms of explosives in a terrorists’ hideout in Swat. Among the IEDs, suicide jackets and RDX, they found a book titled ‘Fazail-e-Jihad’. The holy men advanced, armed with false ideologies and unleashed their wrath on unsuspecting Lahorites as they prepared for their spring carnivals. Will some one speak up and expose their sham ideology with its fake “Fazail”? Or will the criminals strike again and steal our dreams too?


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