by Maniza Naqvi Garden_in_bloom_arles-400

Last night I dreamt I went back to Manderley.” I muttered.

Sadaf seemed smaller, diminished, no longer the huge imposing mansion within a sprawling compound of the splendid gardens of my childhood. The scales of time, experience and perspective had taken their toll. We had driven around the neighborhood several times looking at various houses before we found it—still distinct in its double storied dark stone walls. The area around it was no longer a space of vast open fields of maize and wild flowers though the neighboring training fields which belonged to the Pakistan Military Academy were still there now in an unfamiliar golden orange of autumn and a bit further the Academy itself. For memory’s sake though reluctantly we took a photograph of ourselves in front of the house –the owners had even changed its name: For more years than I had been a part of it, a “mashallah” sign was emblazoned on the gate, its original name on a marble plaque no longer there.

“It’s Abtabad! Chill!” I said later in the evening standing in front of another steel gate as I wrapped my enormous winter coat and shawl closer around me in what felt like a bitterly cold night in 2005.

As I waited for the large black steel gate of the high walled compound to be opened I turned exasperated to look at her in the car, “What? Don’t look so worried. I’ll call you! Go.”

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