Literature and longing in Lahore

There were sessions on art, art history, architecture, politics, children's literature poetry recitals, and a rare dance performance by the ever-graceful queen of Kathak, Nahid Siddiqui. The second and final day had heavy hitters: Hamid talking about his new book, Dalrymple talking to Ahmed Rashid, Ayesha Jalal on Manto, etc. I wanted to be at Tehmina Durrani's session, the woman who became famous for writing My Feudal Lord and infamous for later becoming one of Shahbaz Sharif's wives. She filled the space I imagine Shobhaa De does in literary festivals elsewhere. I didn't get in, so I stood outside the doors hoping someone would leave. All I will say is this: Her session began with her onstage and dramatically lit, while a slideshow of personal photos whizzed by accompanied by Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way".

Now that it's over, the energy and intensity conjured over the last few days have nowhere to go. I am anxious, but for once it is because of something we've gained, not lost. That such a wonderful, intelligent, free public event went off without a hitch renewed a sense of vigour in Lahoris. "You can just feel the hope, na?" one woman said to me at the festival. She's right. For once, you could. Here's hoping we see one next year. And the next. And the next...

Aijazuddin is an artist and writer based in Lahore, Pakistan

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