the tying together of these heartstrings after they have lived an eternity away from each other

You know very well what heartstrings are, don’t you? They hold together those bits and pieces of your soul that are supposed to be yours. They loosen up if they grow weak. But they also tear apart ruthlessly if they are too strong. Rather like this old city of yours where sunsets are enjoyed in the background of ghazals, the salty sea is an angry witness to your follies, and regrets ride away in rickshaws candescent with simple urdu poetry.

So how does that happen?

In all the ways that you can imagine plus one.

Sometimes, it’s that annoying screeching of nails across the smooth surface of the blackboard. At other times, it’s the sound of the delicate, expensive vase breaking and then the sight of your bleeding finger as you try to pick up the broken pieces of the shreds of the glass and also those of your soul. It’s also a little like the old, torn newspaper that soaks up the oil as the deep fried pakoras are laid on it. It’s the slow movement of the fan that doesn’t cool the air but is therapeutic to watch. It’s the sound of the hungry baby wailing for it’s milk. It’s the desperation in a helpless prayer, the hopelessness in the defeated trudge back home from another jobless day. It’s the slap across the face for daring to pursue the silenced dreams. It’s the disgust with which you try to shoo away the flies from your evening tea’s cake. It’s also the pause before the yes and the sundial moving ahead after the no.

But you know what’s so incredible? It’s also – surprisingly – the tying together of these heartstrings after they have lived an eternity away from each other. It’s how they painstakingly glue it together with wax, or try to put the lapis lazuli back in the ring it fell from. Or trying to stitch together the burnt silk. It’s also the patience of old sincerity, the silence of fresh pain; much like the old and yellowed British buildings standing on the old, dusty streets of Saddar.

Hush! Don’t pull them too hard.

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