As the sun sets on yet another day at LUMS, the street lamps come on, engulfing the whole campus in a warm golden hue. For those day scholars who have managed to stick around till this hour, it signals the end of their day at university. But, for the hostelites who call the University their home, it is that time of the day when they can finally let go of the stress of academics and catch up with their friends to take full pleasure of the nightlife at LUMS. The destination they head towards? The khokha.
Nestled on a paved enclosure and surrounded by bushes, the khokha is the heart and soul of the social experience at LUMS. At any time of the day, it has hordes of people milling around, sitting on the benches under the green umbrellas, talking animatedly about the events in their lives. For years, students have come and shared their stories on these very same benches and then graduated, but their tales have stayed ingrained on the rounded wooden tables and the green overhead roofs. Even now, many of them remember the fond memory of sitting at the khokha and engaging in random conversations with random people.
To these graduates, it was the place where many new friendships began, and many others ended. It was the place where they headed to after a bad quiz to be consoled by their friends who had performed even worse. It was the place where they had heart-to-hearts with their best friends especially on days when they missed home a lot. It was the place where they sought exodus from the PDC food by indulging in a little Zakir or outside delivery. It was the place where they laughed over a game of cards, cried over a bad grade, gossiped over an awkward encounter and exchanged furtive glances with their crushes. If that was not enough, it was also the place where one or two of them popped up the question to their girlfriends. To them, the khokha was the nitty-gritty of their social life. And it still is, to the current students.
My own memories of the khokha are too many to share even though I have not been here long. I have spent countless hours there, jotting down assignments with my group, laughing (a little too loudly) with my friends over weird things, just sitting there idly and observing people going on about their lives around me (because that’s something I like to do often) and of course feeding and petting the cats who have somehow managed to establish themselves as stars of the place. They go around all day, prancing from one table to another, prompting surprised gasps from people and occasionally munching on other people’s foods without invitation. They’re rude and scary but don’t fail to have us all be accepting of them even if some of us don’t like cats. One way or another, they’ve become a part of the khokha experience too.
For anyone entering LUMS, the view of the gigantic SSE Building is enough to give them heebie-jeebies about university life. In contrast, one glance at the khokha in front of it offers a whole new perspective on life at LUMS. It captures the essence of communication, friendship and exchange of ideas perfectly – something that defines what university education is about. While the green umbrellas have countless stories to tell, here’s hoping that they’ll be around to witness much more for years to come!