Start Walk    

Of Furry Creatures, Garden Strolls, and Art Walks
by Syeda Aiman Zehra and Syed Irtiza Hussain

Spring Semester: Somewhere in February

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The familiar smell of the nala and the chattering of friends hopping out of their cars to greet each other surround me as I take a U turn and pass In-Gate. My friend who’s carpooling with me shifts in her seat and I know in that moment she wants nothing more than to skip her way into that blur.

Meanwhile, my mood’s the same as it is at the start of every day: my hand on the wheel, freedom in my palm, the course of my life in front of me for me to steer my way through. Jee haan, this is the good life.

An alarm on my phone rings to signal the start of class and the good life shatters. Late, again. I hurry towards Out-Gate, jump out, and hand my keys to my friend to park in free parking. She shouts I bet a 100 Rs you won’t reach on time and I break into a jog to my Writing and Communication class.

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Class has exhausted me already. I’ve been hearing this term, “freshman high,” being thrown around lately. It’s something to do with first years getting gripped by huge bouts of energy that help them ramble away in class and call it class participation. I wonder when I’ll discover this high...

This school feels grey in the early hours, but as evening rolls in, it turns into a communal space lit up by fairy lights for surprise birthdays. Sometimes, I pass by here to find members of FemSoc sitting on the floor for another discussion circle.

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With a little time to spare, I head to the swings. Dried, fallen leaves crunch under my feet along the way and leave me with an ASMR-ed after effect.

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I take my seat and swing myself up into the clouds. Brandon Flowers sings “Spinning like a Gravitron when I was just a kid..” in my ears, and I do, I feel like I’m spinning. True bliss is this.

In front of me, the cricket ground gleams under the sheet of dew. Tomorrow, I’ll be coming here for Pets Day, a society event I look forward to most eagerly. It usually only happens in Fall, but after the great turnout last semester of both animals--dogs, cats, birds of all shapes and colors--and animal lovers, the society decided to hold another one in Spring. Oh, how my hands are itching to dig into the warmth of animal fur!

Chalo utho, ab kaam ka wakt hai! Yes, the voice in my head can get on my nerves sometimes.

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My trusty shoes keep the soles of my feet alive while I walk a rather long way to the Academic Block. Weirdly, the azan sounds the second I pass the mosque.

Perhaps, it was an old fear trickling down many years now, but this space—the mosque—had been made off limits to me both in the literal sense by external forces and in my imaginative landscape by me. So, another thing I did for the first time when I came to LUMS: visit a mosque.

(Just by the way, it’s also a great napping place for whenever you want to avoid your burdens and responsibilities)

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As I enter the Academic Block, it unfolds itself in pockets like it has more to offer every day; shadows and lovely silhouettes, then sudden embraces of light. Maybe, I’m biased. It is my school after all.

Oh, there’s my friend waiting for me, let me jump scare him!

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We update each other on the article—written on the art and architecture of the Academic Block—we’re working on together for the student paper and begin our tour. He points to the courtyard and notes how the fountain and the symmetrical display of plants around it act as a center point for the art in the building, grounding them as sources of nourishment and serenity.

A couple of girls pose for a picture in front of the reds, blues, and greens of the fresco flowers. These frescoes were painted here to pay homage to the aesthetics of Old Lahore that the architecture is based on.

The sound of the rushing water follows us throughout and I feel a sense of calm settling on me. Not many would agree to this sentiment; the maze-like structure of the building and the seemingly randomized classroom numbers can be a daunting experience to navigate around.

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The exit opens to the mighty stature of the Library. It’s not very crowded right now. Everyone, or maybe just me, is avoiding this place before the exam season hits when we’ll be wasting away at a lone cubicle, cramming a semester’s worth of work in a few nights. But oh, the ten minute Bunker coffee sessions are a real treat during these!

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We sit on a bench in the library garden to discuss the article for a while—any nearer to the hostels would bring rubber bullets flying my friend’s way! In the mornings, if I reach campus before class, I walk around here barefooted on this stretch of green to release anxiety.

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My phone buzzes with a reminder. Oh! The swimming pool closes in forty minutes! I bid my friend good-bye and hurry towards the Aquatic Centre, LUMS’ very own swimming complex. To my misery, the Aquatic Centre is right before the parking area, which makes it the farthest point on the LUMS map from where I am, right in front of Law School.

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I don’t think I’ve seen so many tiny birds in formation before I came to LUMS. The sight of them suddenly taking off from the trees as evening rolls in, creating a sweet little uproar as they meet in communion always makes me pause in wonder.

There’s a cool, strong breeze today. I almost feel like doing a Naruto-run, until I nearly trip. Better reach in one-piece. I walk the rest of the way like a sane person.

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I make it to the Aquatic Centre in time. It’s not like I was running late, I just want to spend as much time as I can swimming. Even though I am far from being good at it, I feel like swimming helps me sort of baptize myself from all the stress built up before retiring for the day to my other home. Also, it's quite cold in February so a warm bath is always refreshing.

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As I drive out of campus listening to my John Mayer playlist, I can’t help feeling a nostalgia that I don’t know yet, but will in three years’ time. These thoughts poke around in my mind: when I will be leaving this place for good, when I will drive past these red-bricked buildings for the final time, the last book I will read within these walls, the last laugh I will share with my friends. As inevitable as tomorrow may be, I plan to make the best out of the tomorrows before that.