The aromatic fragrance of resplendent flowers is carried through the cool breeze, passing by the open fields adorned in green. Night sky seems dark and calm. No clouds are swirling nor are any stars ablaze as if night’s silky tendrils had caught the ones that sparkled dimly and lullabied them to sleep. The soft hooting of the owls and the crickets’ chirping is all that can be heard in the unsettling silence. The shadows made by the floodlights’ luminescence feel as if an artist has thrown spots of acrylic paint on his grey canvas.
I introduce myself as the Chowkandi monument, standing within the bewitching atmosphere of Fatima Jinnah Park, one of the largest public recreational parks situated within the F-9 sector of Islamabad. A beautifully maintained, ideally-located, secluded haven for those wanting to relax, enjoy nature and explore the beauty of the local area.
My fate was decided the moment when the park builder, Michael Japero planned on building me into a masterpiece replica of the Chowkandi art. His inspiration came from the various Chowkandi graveyard sites spread in the outskirts of Sindh and Baluchistan. Luckily, the sculptures around me have been exported well. The ones hailing from Sindh have enlightened me a great deal about the magnificence of Chowkandi. It is a treasure trove for archeologists and historians, who are mesmerized by the lengths to which our ancestors have decorated their graveyards. Literally meaning ‘four corners’, they were built for the Muslim Jokhio and Baloch tribes between the 15th and the 18th A.D to bury their dead. Each tomb was designed in a way as to signify the gender of its occupant i.e. tombs of men can be identified with tiny turbans, horses, swords and women tombs had designs of jewelry carved on them. The higher the rank was, the more elaborated stones and intricate carvings were formed.
Flying in the air was what I felt like on hearing this news. Not many get a chance to be envisioned into a historical replica of such stature. Everyday, the sight of me was to be like a perfect pearl on an azure background. My unbridled beauty was to be immaculate, swaying people in its magic and enthralling them with the feeling of wanting to gaze at me continuously.
All along these years, the experiences I have had are manifold of happiness and a mixture of thoughts. People do come in and go out daily but there are some worthy of remembering. One summer morning, I saw an alien being walking towards me. As the distance lessened, I observed that he had contrasting features and peculiar characteristics that stood out from everybody I had come across. His hazel eyes were attentively inspecting my every niche and corner. But there was an ecstatic smile around the corner of his lips as if he had achieved his epitome of success. Like a feathered bird, he was revolving around me, feeling my pillars, and walking on my floor barefoot. I kept standing there as if on watch on all his activities. The very next day, surveying equipment and a digital camera revealed that he was a foreign architect. After done with his inspection, he sat on my stairs and wrote about his findings. It amazed me that his love for Chowkandi architecture had compelled him to travel all the way to Pakistan. Since, this particular style of architecture is typical only to the region of Sindh and found nowhere else in the Islamic world, his country was using exquisite stone carving of the tombs to flourish their field of textile.
Pakistan, an Islamic nation has a deep-rooted architectural heritage that can be traced back to ancient civilizations and hence, need to be maintained, valued and preserved. But with time and exposure, they are slowly getting ruined.
Even I, an inanimate object feels sad that we don’t appreciate what we have while the world is singing ballads of its splendor. And so I stand here and pray that we sensitize our future generations and inculcate in them a healthy value system towards their own heritage
Written By : Kiran Ashraf
Photo Credits : Hassan Raza
Tags: life, message, photo essays, photographic messages, photography, public messages, social issues, writing