City Hangout – Peer Baba’s Courtyard, Mohalla Qabristan
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some birds, some cats, a few trees, a few graves, and absolute quietude. Spending five minutes here is enough to secede from the life of everyday. Duties, concerns, plans, worries, prospects, and all other trains of daily thoughts dissolve into silent air.
Such is the magic of the place. It is a spacious courtyard tucked deep inside the congested Walled City. There must be many private courtyards and rooftops in the area with such calmly ambiance, but this is one of the few that is accessible to all. The way to it passes through narrow crowded noisy lanes, but once you enter the door, you are abruptly transported into an oasis.
The courtyard is home to a little-known Sufi shrine. It has about a dozen graves and looks like a miniature qabristan, or cemetery. Its very existence must be the reason behind the neighbourhood’s name in which it is situated—Mohalla Qabristan.
This afternoon, every element of the courtyard is conspiring to add to the extraordinary serenity. With one distracting exception. The entire place is painted in light green. All the wall, all the graves. This specific beauty is keeping the senses in suspended excitement. In some places, the green is splashed about in differing hues, possibly because the painter applied varying number of brush strokes. That makes the view more enchanting, as if one was gazing upon some sort of modern art.
The Sufi shrine lies on a lower level. The staircase leading to it is also painted green. The few graves over there are in green too. Some of them are at level with the ground. Leaves have fallen around them.
One wonders about the people buried here. A man emerges, informing that these are centuries-old resting spots, and that burials no longer take place here. He explained that the green paint was applied recently to celebrate a festivity concerning the Sufi mystic, whom he addresses as Peer Baba.
Soon afterwards he goes away, and the place is again still, returning to a quietness that feels extraordinarily fragile and thus doubly intense.
Amid the green graves