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  • Writer's pictureAhsan Jamil

A quick trip to Islamabad during lockdown.

This morning I received a call from my office that I have to attend a meeting in Islamabad. I was following the lockdown to letter and spirit from the day one since this ordeal began. And now I have to take highway to Islamabad.

Scared, careful, excited, sanitized and masked I took the Islamabad motorway. Ravi bridge is presumed to be a gateway in and out of Lahore. Once I cross this Ravi bridge, there runs an scenic, serene and picturesque landscape along the car windows. Today the landscape outside is Golden I remember before the quarantine it was all green. It’s the wheat crop that makes fields Golden on both banks of the motorway.

 This golden crop makes me feel secure and prosperous. There is bread in abundance it tells me. Farmers harvesting here and there near and far. they are reaping what they sowed.

 While rest of the world is in lockdown following COVID-19 protocols, peasants are on the call of duty. Its another kind of frontline. Grower’s

work is nothing but endless sweat & struggle.

گندم کو کاٹتے ہوے ٹوٹی تھی چُوڑیاں اور بک گئی تھی دوستو گندم کے سیر پر The fields of wheat keep running beside my car for miles and miles. After a drive of one and a half hour I begin to hear

songs of Sohni Mahiwal from the air of Chinab river.

 Sohni & Mahiwal are two lovers in a folklore. They used to live on different banks of the of river Chenab. Tragically both drowned trying to meet each other one night.

کچے گھڑے نے جیت لی ندی بھری ہوئی

مظبوط کشتیوں کو کنارہ نہ مل سکا › wikiWeb resultsSohni Mahiwal - Wikipedia On the Chenab bridge I bestow a song to the lovers. a Chenab river is a land of citrus orchards. These orange gardens add another color to Punjab delta further ensuring more to eat. Sometimes I wonder how one can go hungry in these fertile lands. In Punjab .nothing refuses to grow  

I can gulp fresh orange juice right now. Of course I wouldn’t jump over the fence for that. Besides it’s not legal to stop on freeways. There I see signs of upcoming service area. Let’s see what’s there to take. Wow most of places are open. 

 I will take a Big Mac Meal. Ooooh it’s been weeks i didn’t taste fast food because of longest stay home @ COVID-19. McDonald’s is my friend since my college days at Oxford, Mississippi. It has quenched my hunger a million times. Again I am cruising towards Islamabad. I can see hills of Salt Range over the Jhelum river as Kallar Kahar is not that far. Approaching Jhelum river bridge now.

. The plain territory of the delta ends here. Now I will climb Kallar Kahar Salt Range hills.  Khewara is one of the largest salt mines of the world. These hills were once a great obstacle to Alexander the Great’s invasions of the subcontinent. His army fought the famous battle of elephants near Jhelum. › wikiWeb resultsBattle of the Hydaspes - Wikipedia  Beyond Jhelum river is Plateau called Potohar. The terrain is undulating. This is beginning of the mountain ranges that eventually lead to K2 and beyond. Islamabad is an hour or so from here. Journey from Jhelum to Islamabad requires an entirely independent narration.

We will continue

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