It is in the month of September that I am hit by a nagging nostalgia made up of sonic booms, blacked out nights, street patrols and a rush of adrenalin that kept pace with the distant sound of artillery guns rising and falling with the wind.On September 6, 1965, as the deafening echoes of the shattered sound barrier died, the City of Lahore watched its residents being put to an acid test of courage, loyalty and the undefeatable ‘Lahori Spirit’. The day bore testimony to roads leading out of Lahore choked with two kinds of traffic. One kind headed south and west to safer havens forsaking their city, while the second pointed its nose eastwards towards the low rumble of battle that now became discernible above other sounds.As this unending, almost festive, queue of vehicles from cars to donkey carts approached the point on Jaure Bridge, where the road bifurcates towards Wagah and Burki, they were stopped by military police. There followed scenes of fervour and patriotism fit to put cold fear into the hearts of the attacking enemy. Cheering broke out as a group of young men were allowed to proceed under supervision to help unload boxes of artillery ammunition some distance down the road. As the day wore on, there was a rush of donors on blood banks, a long line of men stood patiently outside civil defence offices to volunteer and hordes of young women descended on hospitals and the Red Cross building to get first aid training.These were strange times, indeed, where people forgot social biases and joined the Civil Defence in droves. It was a common sight to see a leading well-to-do lawyer and a former member of the legislature eating from the same plate as a motor mechanic, during duty hours at the air raid warning post on the roof of Fatima Jinnah Medical College. Young women left their homes in pitch black nights on foot, to do volunteer work in hospitals with nary a thought for their safety and it was amazing how crime dropped overnight to almost zero.It was the fourth day of the war - the enemy had been humiliated in its bid to have an evening drink in Lahore Gymkhana and the Lahori way of looking adversity in the eye and being funny had resurfaced. As twilight gave way to darkness, the otherwise blacked out Mall was suddenly lit up by the approaching headlights of a vehicle coming from the direction of the Cantonment. But this was not all - the offending vehicle appeared to be trailing a group of furiously pedalling young men. At first sight, it appeared that the former was trying to flee the screaming grey clad figures, who were spouting forth unprintable expletives. This ‘keystone cops’ scene would have continued had not the ‘culprits’ decided to get off the Mall and disappear towards Temple Road.September 1965 gave us an opportunity to heal ourselves – an opportunity that we failed to exploit in the period that followed the war. We were offered another window in 1971, but we became victims of our own follies in the selfish pursuit of power. What happens next only time will tell!

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.