Karachi – My lover – My tormentor

web coverBy Masoomeh Batool

By sheer human nature, are we forced to love when our love shall remain unrequited, desire what we can never have, want to live lives that can never be ours, and worry over matters that our beyond our control. Yet, foolishly, knowingly, willingly, we take the plunge, dive in with our heart and soul, giving the object of our love our best, our heart and soul ripped apart, on a platter, ready to be broken. Living on hope.

An elegant lady, dressed in white. A sign of what? Peace, hope, tranquility? Yet, her white clothes scarred with black spots, grease stains, her skin bruised, her hair scattered, her eyes screaming pain. Yet living on hope…

She doesn’t speak. But I imagine, the voice of this woman, strong, powerful, husky, telling stories of days gone by. Of her majestic grandeur. Of days when she was the epitome of beauty, respected by many, an asset over whom many felt pride. But in the midst of all this, she’s unsure now, of how she’s been reduced from that to this. From what she was to what she is..today.

Ask someone, what Is Karachi? And viola , you’ll hear “the city of lights”!

I sit with my grandmother, hearing stories of Karachi.  I imagine this lady right infront of me, soft, pink, tall, beautiful. Slowly crumbling, breaking, wearing apart..Still providing. I guess, it’s in a woman’s nature, to never stop nurturing those she takes responsibility of, regardless of how roughly you treat her. So she provides, and gives you her best until she has nothing left to give, and has parted with the best of her.

I imagine Karachi, sitting on my rooftop in the dark of the night. I look onto the roads. Roads that in the peak hours of the day were filled with cars, public transport, carrier animals, people on foot, stray animals, you name it and it is there. Yet, at this hour of the night, the very same roads, so calm, peaceful, melodious, and harmonious. You gaze onto them, and they gaze back at you. The trees move, sway from one side to the other, leaves falling here and there. The stars twinkle, forming constellations, a plane passes by emitting an unbearably loud sound, yet so heartwarming. Yes, you know you are at home…

I go back to looking at the lady dressed in white. I keep looking at her, and as she says nothing, I am communicated volumes of messages. I notice that she has two sides, the good and the bad, like each one of us. I’m back on my rooftop, a cloudy morning. Looking around, I see a few people beginning to trickle onto the roads, sleepy children, eyes half close, heads swinging back and forth school busses, going to school. Old women and men setting out to do some groceries, get their fuel tanks filled up or visit the doctor, and the youth, hurriedly making their way to work. And I keep staring. A blind lady needs to cross the street and a poor child from the street steps forward to lead the way for her. A man’s car tire gets punctured and passersby stop by to help him change the tire. My dad’s car gets stuck without fuel and four people are more than willing to push his car all the way to the petrol pump. This is Karachi…

Yet, we litter, spit pan, contribute to pollution, chop off greenery on the sidewalks and replace them with billboards. Still, she provides.. Returns our cruelty with doubled love and tripled care. You’re hungry at 4 am? A local restaurant will provide for you. You feel lonely and worried? The waves at the beach will soothe your troubled mind. You feel bored? The hustle bustle of the markets will leave no stone unturned in entertaining you. And yet, you complain.. Yet you tear her down, hit her, break her heart, and expect love in return. And she gives it..

Karachi, amazes me. Amazes me beyond words. I used to think people were being modest when they made statements like “we’ve travelled the world, but there’s no place like home”, “there’s no city in the world like Karachi” etcetera etcetera. But today, I could not agree with them more. There’s no denying the loopholes in the country, the dark sides of being here, but there’s also no denying that they’re all created by us. Each one of the problems we face today are a result of our own carelessness. But anyways, who says love comes with no pitfalls, who says people come with a “perfect” sign labeled on them, and who says we don’t have our dark days and our brighter ones. But I can vow to love her in her good and her bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and for rich or for poor. I vow to tell her that she’s perfect when she believes she’s not, and pick her up when she’s down, and remind her of all that she is when she doubts herself.

This lady, Karachi, is beautiful, yet hurt, tormented, tarnished. And I vow to stand by her side, till death do us apart.

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