I’ve heard what they say about you, about all your tragedies, about all your chaos. They call you mutinous, chaotic and corrupt. They say there is no prospect of hope for you. That you are a land of injustice and shame. They complain about the treacherous wires that stretch from your concrete pillars, the patchy roads covered with hollows. They say you are filthy with your open drains and clogged waste. They say you are unreliable because of your electricity breakdowns, your gas and water shortages. They say you are a land plagued with political disputes and endless power struggles. They say your streets are laid with weapons, your walls are splattered with blood, your people are prone to violence, and your minorities are oppressed. That you are a savage land corrupted with muggings and kidnappings. But they do not understand you, like i do. All they do is sabotage your hopes and mine.
But for me, the future is land of promises. I take comfort in it because you are the city of lights, the city of the Quaid. You are the heart of the metropolitan world, you are a city throbbing with life. You remind me of warm sunshine, of humid weather, of pyramids of spices in Empress Market, of the smell of the sea and of mosques and minarets. Your bazaars are vibrant, bright and bust, filled with wafting aromas. Your roads are always occupied with vehicles and boisterous traffic. But that is the very essence of you. Turmoil and tranquility intertwined. A labyrinth brimming with color. You have the passion to drive you forward, you have desires and dreams. Yet you are suffering. Suffering because of the lack of hope. Hope that will give you reasons to live and cure your bleeding wounds.
And so you must know that my hopes haven’t been extinguished. They resurface again when I see a child going to school instead of being forced into labor, when a woman in a suit defies social norms. When the Pakistani flag is held high with dignity and pride. When I see the promise of a better future reflected in the smiles of the youth, fearless and bold in the face of adversity. In the wise eyes of those who have seen so much and endured so much. And in the calloused hands of those who work hard under the blistering sun. When colorful kites dot the sky at the time of Basant. When I look at the great tomb of the Quaid; the final resting place of a man with a vision. The timeless landmarks built during the British Rule, memorable of the potential this nation possessed as the country gained independence. All of which hopes and dreams are made of. A testament of the fact that this nation hasn’t given up on you.
Dear Karachi, I cannot let you collapse, I cannot let you give up because you mean so much too so many. You are home to 25 million. You are the light at the end of the tunnel. You are a part of me; of us. And so I will stick with you in thick and thin, in adversity and prosperity but above all I won’t ever lose hope.
To the city of our euphoric youth, here’s to you.
*Pictures taken from Khaula Jamil Photography*