By Hareem Hassan and Mohammad Owais Sabri
Red rectangular buildings interrupt the flow of the deep, verdant green ground supporting the might of solemn trees. A round face cupped in both hands peeks from the windows of one of the buildings, wondering, “Whose woods these are I think I know.”
This is LUMS, empty, serene, and green, rendering us helpless and forcing us to re-evaluate our relationship with the greatest force in the world; Nature.
During the pandemic, wispy clouds adorned the bluest sky the world had seen in decades. The air turned crisper, and mynas came out to serenade the grieving. Smog levels declined and squirrels chased each other across the vast LUMS campus as a select few timidly made their way to their respective hostels, dreading the unimaginably dead campus, only to realize that the campus was teeming with life and offered a fresh source of comfort, one that has been there since the beginning of time.
Umar Amin ‘24, a freshman living at LUMS since the first phase, explained how he felt alienated on campus at the beginning, but soon, he felt a pull towards Nature and was especially affected by the birdsongs. “I started sending pictures of the campus to my family, to try and show the campus off”, he said, “It brought me inner peace, satisfaction and pleasure.”
Much has been said about the mental and emotional toll the online semester can take, especially when there is no emotional outlet. Somewhere amidst all this chaos, Nature has found a way to bloom. Deadlines, dismal quiz marks, and bloodshot eyes can all vanish while you lay under the open blue sky, the leaves of the tree gently rustling in the sweet wind, and the cool grass soothing your aching back.
The administration also played an encouraging role by converting the PDC into the Executive Dining Hall, and moving events and functions from the basements to the lawns.
Mehvish Munir ‘23, who enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets, observed how since people are not allowed to leave campus, they have started appreciating campus Nature more. “This morning, the sunrise looked so beautiful. The campus was empty and quiet, all you could hear were birds chirping and it was just so incredible. Especially for someone who struggles with anxiety. ” She also emphasized on how she would prefer to be at the cricket ground than watching Netflix in her room. “It is just so much more peaceful”, she explained.
However, there is a flipside to be considered. Everyone wishes for this newfound appreciation for a source so powerful, so remarkable, to be permanent. Unfortunately, it seems that simply finding peace within Nature does not equate to unconditional appreciation.
It appears as if nature is being used as a mere emotional outlet in a temporary situation; the issue of littering on the LUMS campus remains the same as pre-pandemic times. The smoking zones are littered with cigarette butts despite dustbins being placed just two steps away, and the PDC and cricket ground are also hosts to very unpleasant intruders: wrappers and tissues.
Mughees Jarral ‘24 echoed a similar sentiment when asked about the littering problem at the campus: “It’s so annoying to see people who eat on the benches and leave a whole pizza box right beside the bench, when there is a dustbin two steps away. It’s pure ignorance”
So, as darkness swallows the campus and flowers close their petals, it appears as if there are “miles to go before I sleep.” There is much work to be done so let us begin by appreciating Nature like it appreciates us, before the Natural source of serenity is irreparably damaged.