August 13, 1956
To Mansoor & Haroon,
I have recently replied, though somewhat hurriedly, to M's recent letter which, among other things, announced a coming domestic event (CGG Branch of the family) in November. This morning I received H's letter of 8th August, acknowledging receipt of a stack of letters and photos from me. So Zubaida is gone to PSH. The change will do her a great deal of spiritual (and perhaps physical) good. More and more my wakeful and sleeping dreams are about Peshawar. My childhood, I realize now, was full of magic and new mental discoveries almost each day. How I wish I could go back to Peshawar. Alas, perhaps now I never shall. Even if I do, adulthood and its social obligations will keep hidden from my eyes the fairy-land that it was. How will I ever be able to walk the dusty road outside Kohati Gate and make my way to blossoming orchards heavy with dew; or smell the roasted meat in shops and eating-houses full of strange travelers from the heart of Asia; or stand in the crisp cold wind from the snow-peaked hills; or roam around the Sadar, contacting far-off England through second-hand detective magazines, or the smell of candy, biscuits and toilet soap that made up a "European" shop like Gai's……and so on……while in counterpoint ran my reading: Kipling and "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and the diwans of ghazal-writers with which our house was full, and debates about the interpretation of the Quran and the cool water in the pool of the mosque of Shah Wali Qattal. Sikandar Bhaijan was a moharrir in the Octroi department. He was posted at one city gate or another checking and assessing the imports and I sat with him through the hot summer afternoons. But the Ghaz trees swayed overhead and the water from the earthen kuza was always sweet and cool, and the kabab and roti was delicious and the merchandise from the hills on camels and donkeys and mules was strange and varied and joined Turkestan to us by routes that we had never seen. Late in the afternoon would arrive bundles of snow wrapped up in rushes, collected by the folks in the hills during the winter to be sucked by the falooda-drinkers in the town in the summer….how can I see and flavour all this again? I shall merely go round the family as an elder and town like a celebrity and come back without a touch of colour or a moment of solitude or a spell of a dream? I am glad you have (Haroon) have started to learn Pushtu. Please don't be slap-dash about it. Do please learn its grammar properly. Believe me most Peshawaris make the same comic mistakes about gender that are supposed to make a Pathan's Urdu so hilariously funny, or an Englishman's Hindustani so superior or idiotic. For Haroon : The addresses you ask for are as follows 1) Mr. Datus C. Smith Jr., Franklin Publications Inc., 432 Fourth Avenue, New York 16, N.Y. (2) Mr. John D. Rockefeller III, No.1 Beekman Place, New York, N.Y.
For Haroon : "Gentility" does not mean "gentlemanliness". No doubt the dictionary would say so, but the word has acquired a slightly feeble, slightly outdated, slightly over-sensitive sense. Haroon, please give Ehsan Dar my most affectionate best wishes when you meet him next. Mansoor, please do the same to your Commissioner. Am glad to know Ehsan has settled down in the Army. Hope he has settled down. In any case ask him to count a hundred before he decides to kill his Major or hold a public meeting against his Adjutant. I spent the last weekend in the country-house of Dag Hammarskjold. About 60 miles from NY. Drove up in my own car. The grounds of the house are 73 acres of virgin forest and lake. The house is of knotted pine wood. Perfect stillness, you don't know how rare that is in USA. There are pockets of primeval quietude in the virgin forest that one can still associate with the Red Indians and early colonials and Hiawatha, but they are difficult to get as they are all private property. We have a "Meditation Room" in the UN, a sort of temple dedicated to no particular religion, where the devout, who think God should have been prominently mentioned in the first Article of the Charter, might do their best, when they feel like it. Recently we have enlarged the room a little and redecorated it. In the centre will be one piece of iron ore (metal both of peace and war) lit from the ceiling by a grey beam, the rest of the room in semidarkness with one wall decorated with a mural which we hope to persuade Braque to do for us. I am hoping the American poet Robert Frost will do a poem. I am going to see him Aug 17. He is over eighty years of age and lives on a farm in Ripton (Vermont) about 350 from here. I'll go to Albany by train, stop the night there and then next go to and return from Ripton by car. Back here on Saturday, I hope. Unless he asks me to stay, which I hope he will. All in all, it should be quite a bit of adventure. It is like going to Chakdara etc to see Dr. Iqbal. + + + + Rashid-ud-Din, a Pakistani in the UN secretariat will be going to Pakistan on home leave at the end of September. I'll send with him an overcoat. This is brand new. Worn it only 3 evenings. Want to get rid of it as it is too heavy for me. I was a stronger man when I bought it than now. You can decide among the two of it what to do with it. It will be a little too big for M and a little too tight for H. This will pose a nice little problem for both of you. Rashid will give it to Taqi, from whom you can arrange to collect it at your convenience. Have noted from your letter Haroon, that Taqi thinks Mrs. Faryar's luggage has not yet left NY. Will make enquiries and will expedite if necessary.
The dusk is falling. I am to dine tonight at the Austrian Ambassador's, black tie, which I hate. I don't wear a white jacket, as I haven't got one. Why have a white jacket for about two evenings in the year? A black jacket is too warm, at least as long as one is in the street. The rooms are air-cooled and don't matter. This has been a hot summer, most days the temperature has been between 70 and 80, which is quite hot for this great prison of a New York, where there are too many human beings crowded together on the one small island of Manhattan. On weekends the highways are packed tight with cars.
Love to the clan. Yours affectionately,