23 February 2013

A Love Letter

Lately I've realized I don't have a lot of love for Pakistan. I don't understand most of it. Heck, I don't even know most of it. It took a long time for me to admit it, but I'm just not patriotic.

But Karachi, Karachi's mine. It's the blood that pounds in my brain. It's the fear in my veins. Karachi's mine.

This filthy, foul, feculent city is all I've ever known.

Karachi's beauty is comical and cruel; made flexible and malleable for its jaded inhabitants. Sometimes, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. When you're sitting on the paan-stained walls of sea view, your feet just brushing against the dirty sand because you don't really want to put your feet in it, it lulls you in. Karachi.

When you're stranded in God-awful traffic because some government official, or their son wants to pass through, and a transgender person comes up to you, and suddenly you notice the shalwar belt is embroidered. Wait. What.

When your hand is pressed against the doorbell, hoping your mother will open the door before somebody robs you in your own street and you notice how innocent it looks in the street-light   

Mostly it's the kind of beauty that has you smile a sad smile. Kids playing in dirty rain pools with the happiest smiles. A child, who's a beggar, refusing the drink you handed him, because you're a burger kid and that unknown drink could be alcohol. A bearded man and a woman in a burqa exchanging a quick kiss in a public park. A gori, pathani girl roaming in a heavy sharara in Dolmen City Mall.  A quick glance at the murky water at Beach Luxury.  

Yes, we're jaded, we're apathetic, but the wounds that run underneath are too hideous to see. They would destroy us, those of us who haven't been touched by immediate tragedy yet. And I know that these things happen, and they will happen to me or to the people I love the most someday if we don't change, if we don't step up but I don't know if I have the strength to just try. It's going to take years and decades and it's just so damn easy to sit here in my little bubble in Defence and laugh off bomb blasts or the “halaat kharaab hain” because these things just don’t happen.

So while my love is selfish and twisted and maybe not what Karachi needs, it is what I have. I know myself to be materialistic and I know I love beautiful things, but this ugly city that just continues to grow uglier day by day is home. Karachi is intimate, it's familiar, and it's mine. You just can't take Karachi out of this girl. 


  1. I like the way you write because it's different. I've read a lot about Karachi on blogs written by Pakistanis and interestingly I've seen more people write about Karachi than Lahore or any other city in Pakistan. Just shows how dynamic, complex and complicated this city is.

    Your writing and I don't know how you'll take this - seems to be written by a male in his 40s because of the use of words such as 'God-awful' and 'Heck' and the 'filthy foul...' but I think that's a good thing because when you suddenly say 'You just can't take Karachi out of this girl' it sort of throws you back. That's how your writing is different. It's unorthodox and contradictory in it's style which gives it a sort of shock-factor if you know what I mean.

    Keep writing! :)

  2. Your comment reminded me of the KLF talk by Shamsie, Aslam and Hamid. Writers don't particularly have genders. As people they as a particular sex, but as a profession, there exists no gender.
    But I suppose you thought so because of my using such words...which are actually part of my vocabulary.
    In any case, I'll take it as a compliment.

  3. You sound pretty patriotic, I'll say! :)