Many apologies for this month long absence. Those of you who thought that I was in some kind of danger after writing my previous post let me assure you that I am alive and breathing. Contrary to popular belief, country’s premier spy agency has better things to do than follow my ultra boring and mundane life. The reason I was on self imposed hiatus was because I had to leave my beloved hometown and I was kind of sad and suffering from a combination of lack of creativity and supreme lethargy.
It is not like I have never been away from Karachi. I have lived abroad when I went to college and have worked away from home as well. I have done my fair bit of traveling for work and pleasure and I had always been happy to go away. This time, I left the city with a heavy heart, perhaps because I know that I am not gonna be living in the city anymore, a city which is perhaps one of my strongest identities and the city which has helped me tremendously in becoming who I am. I have always been a Karachiite and the idea of developing a new identity was not something I was keen on.
As the plane took off and I bid adieu to my beloved city, I worked the mental map of the city. Ever since I was a little girl, I would wake up and try to imagine how my day would turn out, how bad would the traffic be? What will I see on my way to school, to work, to gym or wherever I plan to go that day? It sounds crazy but I even know the potholes of the roads I used to drive on and would know exactly where to swerve to avoid them. For me, most places in the city have some kind of history attached to it; the roundabout at Dhoraji is where a tanker hit my car and I survived to tell the tale. My school, the roads where I learned to drive, my first car and my first accident. I remember my first day at my first job when I pass by the building where I spent first two years of my professional life. I remember the places where I made my first best friend and the place where I lost a dear friend. The places where I grew up, the numerous trips to the beach, the very persistent camel walahs who offer camel rides at the beach, the parks where my friend and I would go for walks and would give up after 2 or 2.5 kilometers instead of the 5 kilometers we earlier planned on, the famous chat wala, my chosen old book seller at the Sunday Bazaar, the florist who would give me best rates for fresh flowers, my preferred pumping station and my favorite attendant at the station (yes, I am weird enough to have a favorite petrol pump attendant) all make up the beautiful and unique map of Karachi. I was overwhelmingly sad at leaving the city which I have learned and loved over a life time – my life time – for various reasons and was wallowing in self pity.
My bout of self pity ended earlier today when I visited a flood relief camp in Charsadda and met with some wonderful and resilient people who want to rebuild their lives after the havoc wreaked by floods which not only claimed their worldly possession but also some of their loved ones. I met this wonderful woman Meher Gul who lost her daughter-in-law and grandson but is determined to go back and build a life for the rest of her grand children. Here I was lamenting a move I planned with all my worldly possessions intact when there are people who were forced out of their homes with nothing but clothes on their backs and they are upbeat and positive. I still have my city to go back to but they will have to rebuild theirs to regain something of their old lives.
Here is hoping that they manage to do that.