Skip to main content

Liberty Nights, Lahore

(I walk to a town fair (mela) in the middle of a market called Liberty Market)

There is an awami mela at Liberty Market.
Every evening I walk there
along tree-lined streets
the full moon to the left,
these months the skies are full of moon: two full moons a month,
veer into Liberty’s inner circle
the gole gapay wala
in front of Sunfort Hotel
dil pay churiyan chalaway
for months

I am mesmerized by the boy-operated ferris-wheel:
He climbs up the middle,
steps into the path of the oncoming cart full of
thrill seekers, hangs on to it from the edge, and dangling, comes down to
Getting off with the next cart just missing his head.
Is it not a matter of time before he has an accident?
His death at his occupation is as impossible as mine typing. See,
I always knew
in my heart
probability had nothing to do with reality.

There is a book fair at the mela.
One evening I picked up a
Jewish book of prayer:
the first one I read turned me on.
Something about the awfulness of the world, and how could god do this.
To me.
Every night I pray to
You to save me.
Every day You betray me.

And every evening I buy a back issue of Conan The Barbarian for
Rs 25
(I never buy a stack of them, just one everyday)
Conan stories turn me on too.
Every story opens with a tired and dusty Conan,
armed to the teeth, looking
for a bar at the end of the day. Then:
sundry criminals jump him.
Conan points out he has nothing on
him to loot half-naked as he is
before slaying them.
Sundry criminals are chasing a buxom belle.
Conan rescues and
propositions her.
She says
I’ll have sex with you Conan
you take a bath, but from the Oasis-From-Where-One-Never-Returns,
a three day horse ride from the spot at which they stand.
You steal jewellery for me from the Fortress-that-is-Impregnable.
Of course Conan does all this
and the woman turns out to be a demon (in disguise)
who really wanted to eat him all along.

  • Rehan Ansari is a writer based in New York. Born in Karachi, Rehan Ansari lived and worked in India where he was a columnist for Mid-Day and Foreign Editor for DNA (Daily News and Analysis). His play Unburdened was staged in New York and Prague. He is working on a film and completing a novel.