A season that leaves both a stain and a stench is better than a season that freezes our tears in the falling. I would rather smell terrible than tragic, which is what most of this country smells like in this part of time. When we are finding a reason to laugh and sing, as the chase of joy recedes, we watch joy pushing further and further away as we stretch our arms to grab it. In the clamour of Lahore, the cacophony is segregated in two sounds. The first is old men sitting on their living room sofas blaming some minister for the shortage of gas in their homes and critiquing the decisions of those in power to resolve the issue. Interestingly, there are two people that are never negatively criticised for what they do, the first is our own Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the man who struggled to his own criticism. And the second is former chief justice Saqib Nisar, whose end of tenure may be the end of all the hope this nation slithered from the massacres it witnessed in the last year. There is no direct argument on the loyalty of these two, but there is a restlessness this country feels, a fear, to be disappointed once more. This country has learnt empathy at the expense of the reckless slaughter of over a 100 innocent children. Perhaps, we will never realise how nerve-wrecking it can be to lose a loved one to a war they had nothing to do with In the winter, families gather with hot cups of tea, a warm haze pressing into their smiling faces as the elderly males talk about politics and the women talk about how they still find ways to feed their families whilst struggling with the gas crisis. Somehow, even the shortcomings of this nation brings it together. We only remind ourselves of unity when it is desperately needed. Although, I feel like it is a luxury to have unity when it is required. And yet this quixotic idea of its continuity always follows. On December 16, this country reminded itself of the most tragic trauma it experienced. A massacre that shook the hearts of those who knew death, even if briefly. We froze our fingertips as we raised our hands for a prayer that would assure a heaven for them to run into. This country has learnt empathy at the expense of the reckless slaughter of over 100 innocent children. Perhaps, we will never realise how nerve-wrecking it can be to lose a loved one to a war they had nothing to do with. But a generation will now be raised knowing what a massacre is and what death can make you feel, even if it is not yours. There’s a calm in knowing that people of my city now know the difference between right and religion. The writer can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, January 23rd 2019.