Some of the best memories of my childhood are set in the officer’s colony of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad, the beautiful capital of Pakistan. My father was a Wing Commander then. And these are also some of my first memories, since he retired when I was 4 or 5 years old.
What I remember very vividly is the PAF Montessori, which was my first ever school. It was a quaint little building with just a few students, all children of the officers’. My classroom had round tables seating three or four, and there were games and puzzles, charts and colors, scattered all around.
I always, or maybe once or twice, I don’t remember that well, went to school with my first ever best friend’s father, who had a white Suzuki van. He would pick me up and I and Mahnoor would go to school together. I still remember Mahnoor; she was a Pathan, and her fair hair and green eyes were testimony of that. I even remember her phone number, because every day in the evening I would call her to come out and then we played together in the streets. I have never met or seen her since all those years ago, I wonder if she still remembers me?
It was an amazing time, the beautiful E-9 sector, set with the Margalla Hills as a backdrop, was THE venue for having the time of our lives. Alas, I only got to spent 4 years there, two of which I remember. The other two were from when I was born to when I was two, and then we went off to Kamra for a year. At Kamra the one vivid memory I have is that there was a park close to my home, and my sisters’ school was facing that park. So every day when the time came for them to get off, I would go to the park and sit on the slide, for a vantage point. I could clearly see the twins and their one friend (who is still a daily part of our social circle) exiting the school. They would stop at the park and pick me up, and then we would hop, skip and jump home. This specific memory I will categorize as my first, since I was two or maybe three years old then.
These two PAF bases, Islamabad and Kamra, are the only ones I’ve lived in, unlike my other siblings who have live in thirteen different places, ranging from the south of the country i.e. Karachi, to the far-north, Peshawar. But these two places, although are just places, have helped shape me into what I am today. The privileges and restrictions of living on a base are marvellous and one never does forget them.
I wish I was born a little early to enjoy the hikes and picnics my siblings always boast about, but since my father was 48 when I was born, two years short of retirement, all I remember are these small things I got to enjoy for a little while.
The PAF Mess Islamabad is another thing I won’t ever forget. I and my siblings would go there and sit at the bar in the dining hall (one of them had to lift and place me on the high stool), eating ice creams and crisps to our heart’s content, putting it all on dad’s tab! At the end of the month, when he got the bill, he would scold us all but we would still sneak up there to the mess set on top of a hill, to run awry and eat junk food.
And my Montessori teacher, Ma’am Ayesha, will always be the prettiest, sweetest lady in my mind. I still have a photograph of us, I’m clinging to her hand and she’s holding a teacup. I always was a teacher’s pet! She was my first teacher, and I won’t ever forget her smiles and her stylish dyed hair and shiny black heels.
In the beginning this post started on the ‘earliest memory’ prompt, but these are not just my earliest memories; they are my happiest as well.
Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge by The Daily Post.