Lalazar, 22- July;
Everything around our hotel was outdone with greenness and anything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were caressingly soft and intimate on the skin.
I was standing by the fence of our hotel’s backside, admiring the beauty, far away from the chaos of our pack. On my left, there was a signboard which said;
‘The last view hotel’
I read it out loud and smiled as the sign said it really was the last view. From where I was standing I could only see grasslands, waterfalls and streams. Leaving all the busy human activity behind.
Alas.! Could I be at peace more than a minute long? That’s impossible.
‘Tanzeela there’s hot water in the tab make sure that the kids take shower before we leave, we’re not coming back here from Lalazar also pack everything too.’ I heard my husband coming out of the room.
‘Yes sure, I’ve packed and I’m waiting for the bathroom to get free.’
‘Tanzeela it’s free now.’ Api shouted from inside.
‘Please our breakfast is here, it’s coming in shifts so the ones who are ready come and start having it.’ Bhaiya was standing by the lawn chairs, the large circle of chairs we made the day before was still there. I rushed inside the room and by the time I was done with the showering and changing of my kids. Half of them were already done with the breakfast and the rest were enjoying it. I reached the table and saw a fresh batch of omelette and Parathas waiting for me.
‘Come have a seat here Tanzeela, these are the most crispy Parathas I’ve ever had, the tea and the oomeletteeverything is perfect. Mouthwatering.’ Api couldn’t stand her enthusiasm for the Parathas.
‘Ohhmmm wow they really are so tasty.’
‘Want tea?’ Bhabi offered a cup full of tea.
‘Let’s go, kids, we’ll have a photo session’ my husband called the kids and went exploring the areas for a photo session.
‘Our jeeps are here. It’ll be three hours trip to Lalazar then we’ll join our coaster on our way back.’ Bhaiya announced.
‘Okay so we have to take jackets and stuff?’ I inquired.
‘I don’t think so just let them put on uppers.’
We settled in the jeeps soon we were heading towards the piece of heaven-Lalazar.
As we crossed the beautiful small wooden bridge that went up on the gushing water. We could feel and hear the water more than any of the other places because we were in an open Jeep that day. The sound of the huge tires of the Jeep screeching the metal plates in between the wood panels was amazing yet felt dangerous too.
‘Hold on tight the roads going to be bumpy from now.’ thanks a million times that my husband informed us because the road took a drastic turn and started jegging along the rocky mud track.
Although it was rocky more than the one we ventured on our way to Saif-ul-Mulook, the hills on one side and deep khud on the other but the colours around the place was totally different. I never knew that Allah has created these many shades of green in the world. The fields around the track had layers and layers of its different shades. Some were light some were dark. Most of all there were flowers, lots of them. Different colours and sizes. When I say lots. People they were really thousands of them. Even millions. If I start listing the names there would pages and pages of it.
The track was amazing yet it was nothing compared to what we were about to experience. In fact, the beauty which was waiting for us up on that hill was something that burns deep into your heart. Making its own space. Creating a strong place in your heart. Memories that cannot be washed out. The everlasting beauty that puts a deep stamp into your heart.
The moment I stepped out of our jeep, my mind became blank. Never thinking for a minute about my kids, husband or anyone else for that matter.
I started marching towards the thickest green grassland, the ones I’ve only seen in posters. It felt like it had stepped out from the pages of a storybook. The grass was Eden-green and thigh-high to a thrush. The mountains in the distance had peaks that looked like veiled women with white sheets of cloth.
It wasn’t just the sights that pleased the senses. The sounds, smells and tastes were out of this world. The sky above the meadow was a feast for the eyes. It stretched as far as the eye could see in a dome of cocktail-blue, punched with fluffy clouds. Squeaking swallows chased whirring dragonflies in a dance of life and death racing with the beautifully colourful butterflies.
A yolk-yellow ribbon of muddy path ran through the centre of the meadow.
The music of the meadow came to my ears above the sound of our pack whooping around as I went far away from them deep into the greenness.
The dawn chorus, buzzing midges and the whispering of the wind. I could smell the sweetness of cherry blossoms and the caramel soft scent of flowers in the air. It was so soothing that I lay my head against a mossy rock and closed my eyes to feel.
When I opened my eyes the cloud passed away, leaving the grass and earth to steam gently like druid- smoke.
‘Maybe I should offer two Rakats of Shukrana here, the best way to thank Allah for providing the beautiful country Pakistan would be to start praying for it.’ I said to myself and offered the Salat. In between the stillness of the land, it felt as if I was standing in front of my Lord praising His creation. A divine satisfaction washed over me.
‘Lalazar is an extremely picturesque pasture at an elevation of 3200m. It is linked to Naran by 21 kilometres.’ I heard Baji behind me, explaining the details to the group of kids as soon as I was done with Salah.
‘And these flowers are they planted here?’ inquired Mohammed.
‘Alas Mohammad, all of these plantations here are natural, the gift of Allah.’ Ashhad sounded like a wise old man as always.
‘I want to take a pic of these butterflies’ Taymia ran passed me chasing behind a party of yellow and black butterflies and vanished along with them.
‘Oh look there’s a huge caterpillar.’ Baji shrieked from ahead.
‘Where? I Wanna see it.’ Omama bounced up as she was then lying on the grass by my side. I gathered the courage to finally get up and explore some more flowers.
‘I’m collecting these flowers. We’ll count how many types are there.’ I turned my attention towards picking up the samples.
‘I don’t think so we can pick them all. They’re lots and lots of them, Ania.’ Omaina trailed off and went in the other direction.
I wandered around and found Apa and Hashir who was rolling down the grass.
‘Hey Mama did you saw it I rolled all the way from there.’ Hashir came back running. Out of breath yet he had to tell his mom about his cute little achievements.
‘Yes, you did well, why don’t you collect flowers like Ania. Find as many different flowers as you can.’ Apa suggested and before she could finish her sentence Hashir was running up and down collecting them.
‘Hey, look at Nehdia and shaji, the way she’s gifting him flowers and he’s like oh I don’t need that.’ Omama pointed out to the two cuties behind me. I looked around and saw Api settled and about with her sketchbook and water colours Already dug into her peaceful little world of creativeness.
Hey, do you know where my husband?’ I inquired out loud soon after I noticed that my older kids and husband were nowhere to be found.
‘They are up there look at those tiny dots. Yes, that’s where they are along with Chand Mamo and Chand Mami(Bhaiya and bhabi).’ Omaina stretched her finger to point out the little dots up on the hilly yellow path.
That’s what he was doing!
‘Okay I would love to go there but my legs. Ah, I can’t take a single step upwards. I better be good girl and rest plus feeling the atmosphere around here is more enchanting than ever.’ I knew no one was listening yet I had to give a satisfying reason to myself for not going up there buy them how could I be far away from them for so long despite my legs hurting badly I started walking up the path.
Before I could even reach half of it. I looked up away and saw them coming down.
‘Maybe I should stop here and wait for them they’ll be down soon.’
‘Where were you couldn’t you be with us for a second?’ My husband started questioning the moment he was at a distance that I could hear him.
‘Well, my legs I can’t hike now.’
‘Ali had to go peeing so I took him up to that hut.’
‘Oh, do they have a nice clean place there?’
‘Clean yes but nice NO, it’s just an open square box and the door is half open.’ he declared.
‘Oh, anything is better if it’s clean.’ I added.
‘Look Mama we found this frame up their baba took pictures of all of us there.’ Ali was shoving a frame without glasses in it.
‘Leave it somewhere safe, maybe the owner would come back and find it.’
‘YEAH as if he would.’ my husband smirked.
‘Well, it’s one’s duty to assume and leave it be.’
‘it’s just a broken frame, not a million dollar cheque.’
‘Guys we have to go back now.’ Emad was shouting calling everyone out.
‘Oh, no it’s so early please can’t we stay here more?’ I inquired.
‘Nah we have to go back or else we’ll be late. We have to reach Islamabad before Maghrib.’
‘Yes, yes.’ I surrendered and started our walk back to our jeeps.
The walk back was depressing. For the first time of all our tour, I felt the urge to stay longer or you could say stay forever which was impossible. So, I opened my mobile and started taking pictures as many as I could. Clicking the screen more times than I could ever do. It was like I was about to lose something very dear to me and the only thing to save it in my heart were the pictures. Although the place didn’t need any of these photographs to let it stand in one’s heart forever