This summer I flew to Pakistan for the first time since 2009 to spend time with my family in my father’s village, some of whom I had not seen in ten years. On the fourth day of the trip, I was walking back to our house with one of my cousins and I came across a house. It felt familiar, yet its decrepit aesthetic meant that it was barely recognisable. I asked who it belonged to and learnt that this run down, overgrown building was my grandfather’s childhood home. It was the house he grew up in for the first sixteen years of his life, after which he migrated to the United Kingdom and settled in East London where he lives to this day.

After forcing open the gate, which felt like it hadn’t been moved in years, I went inside and was greeted with this view of the house (above). Beyond the thick layer of thorns, branches and weeds that blocked my path inside, the walls were cracked, the paint peeled & faded, and the roof had collapsed in several places. I learnt that the latter was the reason why the house had been abandoned and why its former residents chose to pack up and start afresh elsewhere. I knew I had to come back with my camera, and the next day I did.

After speaking to my Grandad about this, I learnt that the house was built by my Great-Grandfather. He told me with a sadness in his voice about how hard his father had worked on it, and lamented the fact that it now stands derelict and abandoned. The bricks that my Great-Grandfather laid down are now exposed by plaster that has fallen away over the years.

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One of the back rooms in which the roof collapsed.

At the end of the day, it is just an abandoned building in a small village in the Punjab region of Pakistan. However, to me these humble four walls and a roof stand as a monument to the life my Granddad left behind by flying to England to begin a new life. It’s all that remains of a time long gone by. A piece of history lost in time.

 

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