My time in Lahore was drawing to a close and I knew I had to return to the Emperor’s fort just one last time. The Mirror Pavilion a place of serene melancholy, built during the reign of Shah Jahan. The Shah was born in this very fort in 1592, the son of Jahangir. Shah Jahan would later commision the world’s most beautiful building, the Taj Mahal in 1631.
During my life there have been certain places, town squares and buildings that I have been, for some inexplicable reason, drawn to. I would return to these places and stay for many hours in reflection often wondering to myself why it was so hard to leave.
In Milan it was the cloister of Santa Maria della Grazie, in Bucharest the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral, in Vrindavan a stretch of the Yamuna River near the Laksmirani Kunja temple where I would try to catch the reflection of the moon in it’s waters at night.
In this romantic city of high drama and quiet reflection for me it was the Pavilion of Mirrors within Lahore Fort that would not let me go. There was just something so hauntingly beautiful about this building, it’s silent distress heartbreaking in it’s own way. The sunlight trapped behind black clouds that were crossing the plains of the Punjab would now and again elongate the building’s shadows, shadows that have been confined here for centuries, and the rain, the rain like a million teardrops, the teardrops that must have been shed here throughout the centuries.
Now and again a tourist would pass through or the occasional school group but for the most part I was alone. After much pondering I concluded the people passing through were on tight schedules or just caught up in modern living. They were passing through, making selfies and looking at the pavilion, but actually I feel they never saw it at all, their time too brief to ever having been there in the first place.
I was in Lahore to honour my mother, we had a magical connection to this city, a distant city that we had never visited. The first time I realised that our world was beautiful, that life was beautiful, that my mother was beautiful was trudging through the snow one night as a four year old and her crouching down beside me and pointing telling me to look at the night sky for there was a falling star to behold.
I remember many years later seeing a clip of a man setting fire to newspapers just through sheer willpower, holding his palms above the paper until it ignited. There is so much of the metaphysical realm we do not understand. I feel that mirrors have, at times, the capability to capture energy.
Once while rummaging through an antique shop in Amsterdam I caught sight of my reflection in an old mirror and in angst fled the store for I knew within every part of my being that that mirror had witnessed something so evil, so cruel, that to this day the energy was still caught there.
As the tourists passed through and left again my eyes would wander across the old kangal murals, painted onto it’s walls during another era, it’s gold leaf portraying the magnificence of days gone by, of emperors and kings, of dancing girls and elephants, all those who must have passed through. I had visions of sultry nights of long ago, the palace lit in the moonlight as the string music from sitars drifted through it’s halls, the love stories and betrayals, births and deaths, whole life spans passing infront of the mirrored glass.
There is one room within the pavilion, it is away off to the side, rather forgotten and very dark. In weak light I remember looking into the mirrors within that room, looking at my reflection and trying to look beyond the glass, trying as hard as I could to see into another world but there was nothing there, just my lonely reflection standing in an old palace, just another person with their tragic story, just another future ghost.
Feeling dejected at least I still had the beauty of Lahore and what it had given to my soul, a sense of closure, at peace now with the memory of my mother.
I don’t know why but I took out my phone, the light of the screen capturing my face in the dark room. I noticed the light from the phone screen reflected in the mirrors beside me. Feeling rather silly I switched on the phone’s torch and pointed it to the celing and that’s when I started to cry for infront of me it seemed like a thousand twinkling stars all lit up and as I moved the phone to an angle it made the stars move, as if they were falling, a thousand falling stars in the night sky.
As with the pavilion the murals are in a state of disrepair, here are a few of my favorite one’s I was able to photograph, here are the other ghosts of the Mirror Pavilion: