EnglishShort Story

The symbolic significance of Lahore in the story “The Property of Woman”

Lahore is very much discussed in the story. It provides the context for different activities. We are introduced to its seasons in a way that we feel the scorching heat of the summer. We feel the humidity of the rainy season and the fragrance of “temperate berries” of the winter season.

Lahore becomes a moving picture before our eyes when the writer narrates the summer season. She describes the intensely hot days and the activities performed by the people. Summer leads to the rainy season which invites the cicadas which appear in abundance in the city. They arrive, mate and die. Soon they are forgotten by the inhabitants of the city. Their dead bodies and dried wings are washed away by the rains. In winter activities change. The fruit is replaced and the visitors too. The most important happening of the winter season of Lahore in the story is the arrival of Pather Nadi who comes after every seventeen years and tastes berries in Anarkali. The description of Basant is very much realistic. This is the time when the sky is covered with kites of different colors.

References to the true history of Lahore make the city very much alive in the story. Sara Sulehri mentions Data Ganj Bukhas, a saint who came to Lahore centuries ago. There is also an allusion to the creation of Pakistan and that is Lahore Resolution. We are told about the Badshahi mosque and mausoleum of Iqbal, the Philosopher and one of the greatest poets of Urdu and Persian languages. The river Ravi and Jahangir’s tomb have also been referred. Lahore is present in the story with two wars. These are the wars of 1965 and 1971. Here, Sara Sulehri gets, to some extent, sarcastic when she talks about the war of 1965. She says,

 “For fine music attended us during those two weeks in early September, songs in the patriotic vein over which we would shake our heads later, admitting that  September 65 had been a wonderful war for songs.”

These songs were sung by Madame Noor Jahan.

A life-like trait is given to Lahore with the mention of Gulberg V where Sara, the narrator, and writer has her home. Gulberg V is a residential place for rich people. The roads and gardens of the locality described in the story are quite real. Description of Gulberg V gives us a glimpse of new Lahore that is very much different from the part of the city where Data Gunj Bukhash and Muhammad Iqbal are resting in their eternal abodes. Here we meet with Halima who tells us about Pather Nadi and the value of the property of women. She belongs to a poor class and works in Sara’s house as a cleaning woman. Her favorite pastime is to form and tell different stories, of which the most important is the story of Pather Nadi. Adjacent to Gulberg, there is a poor locality where Halima lives with her husband Gulam and two children. She is a poor woman but she never complains about his difficulties. She does not lament the condition of her mud house washed away by the rains almost every monsoon season. Here, the way the writer describes the havoc caused by monsoon rains in Kuchi Abadi also makes the city alive in the narration.

To conclude, we can say that Lahore is quite a living character in the story. It allures cicada every year to provide them room for mating and dying. Lahore is a city that let Pather Nadi come into its premises after every seventeen years. It gives room to Himalayan gypsies to sell their paper-made horses on its roads. Lahore is present in the story with its past and present, with its wars, with its historical monuments, and above all with the people like Halima and Sara.

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