Memories of Lahore
I have seen Lahore even before the Partion. During the British Raj, it was regarded as the Paris of Asia. There is a popular Punjabi saying: “Jinan Lahore nahi veikhya, oh jammey hi nahin” (Those who had not seen Lahore, were not born). I again went to Lahore as part of a Sikh Jatha about two decades ago. On the very first day, someone stole Rs 7,000, a railway ticket and receipt of my passport from my purse. While sauntering in the fort, a lady from Peshawar told me that she had seen the Golden Temple in Amritsar when she was about 10 along with her parents. She was surprised to know that the foundation stone of Harmandar Sahib was laid by a Muslim saint, Miyan Mir, at the behest of Guru Arjan Dev. At the gate of Shahi Masjid, an elephantine Maulana clumsily placing his hands on my weak shoulders asked: “Kahaan sey asey?” “From Qadian,” I ejaculated. “Oh, shahr-e-kuffaar sey,” (Oh, from the city of infidels) he said. It was an innuendo about the Amhadiyyas. When I politely told him that they were as faithful as the other Muslims, he went away angrily murmuring something. Poet Allama Iqbal’s magnificent mausoleum was near the masjid. Some fanatic leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami washed it with rose water, saying that its floor had been defiled by a Hindu’s feet.
When I told an old friend about my theft, he offered some money. I politely declined to accept it. His bubbly wife said: “Bhaji lai lau, ik pulsiya paise dinda hai; eithey pulswaaley paise laindey ney, dindey nahin (Brother, take the money, a policeman is giving to you. Here police personnel take, do not give money). I let out a loud guffaw.