Several of you have taken me up on my offer to send emails, and out of sheer laziness I will simply type one for the whole lot of ye. Right. And now for something completely different.
Dear Blogistan, AssalamuAlaikum
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and Iman. If it gets sick or depressed on the way, please make sure you put the letter to bed and read it some Qur’an to make it feel better.
The trip to Mansehra was interesting, the most memorable part of the journey being the ride itself- two hours on mountain roads with some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. If anyone should find themselves thinking they’re the stuff, I recommend standing at the base of a mountain and looking up. Nothing in the world can make you feel quite as small.
Additionally, if anyone should find themselves thinking they’re invincible, I recommend driving to Mansehra. Nothing in the world can make you feel quite so close to death. People of Pakistan, I ask you, when there is a single yellow line painted through the middle of a road, what does that mean?
I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean that you can pass on the rocky shoulder of the road at 60kph, or that you can make three lanes of traffic heading in one direction when there are only supposed to be two, one facing each way. I know it doesn’t mean that an eighteen-wheel truck should pass us on a curve going so fast that his trailer leans dangerously to port, and that the truck coming from the opposite direction at the time should mash his pressure-horn and pass within inches- loud, dusty, hot inches blowing diesel fumes and the possibility of death and/or dismemberment into our faces.
Somewhere before Mansehra there is a car parked on the shoulder of the road. It used to be a cream colored Suzuki Alto, a relatively small car, but nothing compared to the size it is now. The car looks like it was hit by two cars on opposite sides simultaneously just as a boulder fell from the sky and crushed it completely. It is hopelessly mangled. Not even the most optimistic of optimists could hope that anyone in that crash came out alive. Someone, some wise person somewhere before Mansehra, left that car on the side of the road with a large banner draped over it:
Dars-e-Ibrat. The lesson of consequence.
Which reminds me of something I saw on the way to the airport two months ago as Aniraz and I were on our way to the US. In the pre-dawn light, on the side of the road there lay a motorcycle, two sandals, and a dark stain.