Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a morning

Today (I wrote this yesterday, btw) I got to school early. For the past couple of years I've been coming to school by a van service which I've just quit. Now I'll be coming to school with my mother, who wasn't dropping me to begin with because she has to get to school too and it's on the other side of Defence and as a result we'll both have to leave early and get home late. But that's not the point.

The point is that I got in early today. It's still wintery in Karachi, and the sun takes its sweet time rising; and today as I walked up to the building (we have a nice long walk from the gate to the main building), I thought: I love this place. That didn't seem quite right, but with the brownish silhouette against the ambiguously blue sky, it wasn't a complete falsehood. It was empty, save for the domestic staff; I was free to walk as slowly as I pleased, free to savour my walk, free to think, free to get lost in the sight. I looked over to the ugly matti waala ground where there were still a couple of barricades and a few odd bottles and some trash from sports day  — why don't they put grass on it? I thought. The image of the Saddar school came to mind, with its amazing green ground. When I was a kid one of my mamoo-families lived in the building right next to the Saddar school. I would often look down at (hah! Imagine that) the school and wonder about the lives of the kids playing baseball on it. Now, I guess I know, and am no better for it. But that, of course, takes nothing away from the ground or the building itself. The building! It is beautiful. If I could exchange knowledge of these lives for a single walk about that building, I would do it, no regrets. The building is too beautiful.

And that's what I was thinking of: beautiful buildings; architecture; I thought, I love nice buildings. Maybe I should do that for a living. But then I remembered it takes math and physics more than an understanding of beauty, perhaps. The thought unsettled me, But you can't always just decide to jump into making anything you like, I thought, and it made sense.

As I entered the building, I don't really love this place, I thought as I looked at the tiles. The tiles put me off. I corrected: I only like the outside. I only love the façade! How's that for metaphor? The metaphor delighted me, and I turned it over in my head, checked it for cracks, brooded over it. Let's talk about the façade for a bit. The old Saddar building is actually, well, old  the school's founding date is 1847 (picture).

But the one I go to is in Clifton and less than twenty years old. They've actually made the façade to look like the one of the original; so on the outside it's all artificially aged or whatever and on the inside it's all modern and purpose-built and shit with the stupid tiles. At one point, as I thought of the building, I wondered: is it possible to love a building? I even noted this thought down. Well, it is possible. I love the Mama Parsi building don't I? And I fucking hate Mama Parsi. (I went to Mama Parsi for eleven years). And then I thought of Karachi, all cleared out: would I still love it? Is the city its buildings?

I went to class, put my bag down, and then wondered about what I was going to do. Initially I'd thought I'd go into the courtyard, but there was nobody there (except for the odd person coming in) and I thought I might as well stay in class. I walked to the back, where it was dark; in the morning they leave the back lights off (to save energy, I suppose). It was empty  it was all empty! It felt really great. Yes, I decided, at the very least I like this place a whole lot better when there's nobody in it. Even with the stupid, ugly, green desks. I walked about for a bit, then whipped out To the Lighthouse and read a couple of paragraphs. It was very nice to be reading, pacing, with no distractions (at least for a bit). I walked easily in the lines of space that were there simply because the chairs had not yet been pulled back from the desks; I walked under the light, reading, joining the Ramsays at their dinner party. It was peace. And even as students began to trickle in I read leisurely, enjoying the words as you would enjoy dessert: bit by bit, taking my time to taste and to savour. I knew I had the whole day ahead of me, but the thought did not frustrate me. I found I was actually less agitated than I usually am, more willing to take on the day ahead than if I rush in ten minutes before the bell.

An acquaintance came into the class. I said hi and then decided it was time to go to the courtyard. There I stood near a coniferous tree (fir? spruce? deodar? I didn't know which) and watched the school come to life (for lack of a better phrase). I studied the flowers and I studied some of the people. I noticed that one girl has a very distinctive, swaggerish walk. I then tried to see if any of the boys walk like that but didn't see any who do. I noticed that the peons use a scissor that resembles pliers to prune the plants. I think some people smiled at me but I didn't smile back at them because I don't smile at First Years, I don't know them and I don't smile at people to begin with, unless they fucking light my world up or something.

Then a friend of mine came in with an envelope (I freaked out when I saw it, but then she told me it's for UBC and I was like ok), I made my No, U BC joke, and quiet time went up in a laugh.

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