Written by Currim Suteria
in honor of Andrew Levitt
Every evening, Lal Hussain uncle sat on a bench on the terrace of the Old Hunza Inn. He waited to see his mountains covered in the evening’s light. It is the hour of the day that he enjoyed the most. If he spotted me walking around the inn, he would invite me to sit with him, and request Manzoor to make us all some tea. He sat comfortably, with his left leg propped up, his arms resting on his knee, while his right leg dangled, moving slightly.
Sitting with him meant sitting close to him. It meant coming close to his presence, his words and the air that surrounded him. The evening air belonged to him. Between us, we spoke little. Like the quiet breeze and intimate space between the leaves of poplar trees, our conversations consisted of slight utterances and long silences. He always commented on the fresh air, fruits in his garden, and the three mountains that made up our panorama at the inn. “Look, Currim, look at these mountains. Here we have Diran, Rakaposhi and Golden Peak. Allah has given us fresh air, apricots, what else can you ask for? We have everything, Currim.” He would say these sentences every time with a quiet sense of pride, affirmation and gratitude.
As a child, he was the first to wake up, and peek from his tent, to see the first light of the morning on the high mountains. He remembers those days fondly. I imagine a white tent and uncle as a young boy. I imagine his round face as a young boy, his cheeks washed in the morning’s first light. His round face, partially hidden, looking east. A face and a tent that is still with me. Today, he says he is eighty and his heart is yet not full from looking at these sunsets everyday. All of this sounds soft and gentle in his Urdu.
He experiences the evening, the light as it moves. His eyes are small and narrow, absorbed by this light. He waits, but it is not so much a waiting, but a kind of living of the evening’s light. The sky, the clouds, washed with a thousand apricots. The last light on his golden mountain, and the sky starts to lose colour.
About the author
Currim Suteria is an architect, painter and educator. He completed his Master of Architecture at the University of Waterloo where a trip to Pakistan's northern areas inspired his exploration of the relationship between faith, beauty, ethics and design. Currently he serves as an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Programme at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and also collaborates with the Open Door Design Studio on projects of varying scales.