Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

In the village

There are lessons in the first landscapes of every one's life. Mine are a vista of green paddy fields, smoking with early morning mist, against a setting of line of green trees, which from distance looks like a shore of another land altogether. The tree lines appear inviting against a sky withering with the morning, interrupted by the dawn's red and blue brush strokes. My first learning in life was also in the village.

In villages everywhere in Pakistan, many people live without assessable roads or other civic amenities of this modern age. No telephone or the Internet, even the electricity is the recent phenomenon; some are still without it. But one thing that makes them more livable is clean environment there.

See one village and you have seen them all. The scenery around villages is attractive in its own way, open all around. The tracks and roads, wherever they are, swings and curves up and down. Roam around in rural expanses and the vehicles bump up and down the roads and tracks, giving fleeting glimpses of a rougher, more elemental existence. Villages pass by, with trees surrounding them and beautiful birds swashbuckling on the branches, like crows on a rainy day.

Life in villages is pollution free and quiet. Different shades and colors of waving crops and trees - solitary, in groves or avenues - beautify the landscape. The scene changes after the harvest. The air is always fresh and fragrant with the smell of earth. The only sound is singing of birds, ringing of cowbells and sighing of wind or some youth loudly singing Heer Waris Shah, Sassi Punun or Mirza Saheban at night. Cows, buffalos, sheep and goats move silently, hordes and hordes of them, jingling cowbells around their necks, and doves flutter in front of them. One sees butterflies fluttering, ladybirds creeping and squirrels jumping around. To me the places look like a paradise on earth. My paradise.

"I help my neighbors and my neighbors help me", is the philosophy of life in our village. Faith, sharing, contentment, grit, hard work and humor are few others. There are no marriage halls or other renting places. Daras (community centers where cultural diffusion takes place) are very useful 'institutions' for functions or for elders to sit and teach irreplaceable heritage of ideas to the younger generation. The learning that passed on to me in Dara turned out to be very precious: it was the legacy of the fable. Tandoor (Oven for backing bread) is still a meeting and talking place for women.

Cooing crows on the rooftops are still considered as a symbol for the arrival of guests in my village. Hospitality is like one of the cultural benchmark, as villagers strongly believe that a guest comes with the blessings of Allah Almighty. Pull a hay cart into the shad, to rest, to dream. You shall be served with hookka (Hubbell-bubble), water and food.

A cluster of memories - some overlapping, some isolated - of the village boy I once was stay with me. I am a result of my childhood experiences that I had in pollution free and clean environment. Which is why I see my future in the village?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 3:41 PM,


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