It aint the 1970’s anymore.

by Aanya F Niaz

 The New Beat Generation.. Beating to someone else's Rhythm

Although I wish it were; but I’m just a 20 some year old living in an old town called Lahore, where water, electricity are obstinate and the sun god isn’t with the plummeting heat showers that descend upon us. My mind is crowded in an evolution of thoughts. Most girls my age are getting married or promising themselves to men, who are seldom lovers, but you know, they give them security and what not. I often wonder whether I’m an anomaly not venturing into that world, but then it’s comforting to know I’m different. Or am I? In just a few weeks, I’ll make a cliched journey to the city that never sleeps. The funny thing is, Lahore doesn’t let you sleep any way. It poses such conflicting dynamics of existence that even resisting them is deemed a crime. A woman here must choose one path or the other. Yes, yes, I can hear all of you screaming at me, declaring freedom for women in Lahore unseen before but come on, even being a feminist (if I was one) is advantageous for the men. There’s definitely a difference, a certainty of empowerment in that professional women are not abandoned and isolated into gender-biased time capsules any longer.

But what women are being robbed of is dreaming. Dreaming to speak loud on subjects rendered controversial and often times scary. If you stand your ground once, you’ll be remembered for all times to come but not with a positive flavor. Rather, you’ll be ostracized and all that’ll keep you company are your down-trodden dreams. Freedom to work and make a career are definitely achievements that females have made around here, but there’s still no freedom to let your thoughts wander. A differently styled outfit is enough to get the public glaring. It’s most fascinating, this struggle against time and reason in Lahore. The 2000’s have brought with them winds of change; often times liberating the poor souls incarcerated in dreamless realities but also in the number of girls seen smoking or drinking. We’re trying so hard to catch up with the West that we don’t remember our own East any more. In the Mughal era, there were glamorous and progressive poets who wrote on female empowerment and even homosexuality. On how a woman’s ability to carve her dreams into the world made it a better place; on how the art to dream was a right; almost as if the child born into this world had a right to his/her Mother’s milk along with the capacity to dream. Poets converted kaleidoscopic thoughts into words and any woman was free to read, breathe and believe. The imposture, the sexist police, weren’t dramatically active and the dreamers were free to roam the streets of Lahore, garbed in the richest of silks and the poorest of rags. All that mattered was the matter in their head. Now, now look at us. The generation of the 2000’s; utterly confused, easily baffled, conveniently objective; jack of all trades but master of none. If we don’t fight the constraints the societal police has stapled into our bodies, we’ll seldom, rather never find solitude in our thoughts and come up with something gruesomely beautiful. Freedom to dream. That’s what I’m after.