Gazing at the Margalla Towers, gouged and skeletal in the wake of the 2005 earthquake, the ruins present a gruesome picture to passers-by. Cracks and holes in its walls, roof, floors and shaky staircases make it seem like it’s on its last leg; a gust of wind might bring the house down.
Packets of corn flour, a pair of bedroom slippers, dishwashing foam, disposable plates, brooms and a few pieces of clothing takes one back to the fateful day of the earthquake. But the cause is different: two families have taken up residence in the ruins.
“We have been living here for the past two months. Sometimes, at night, we feel scared to go too far into the building since we hear stones rolling down,” said Shaista, mother of three.
The two families have constructed a small steel cabin adjacent to the building where they sleep, although when it rains they move inside.
However, the kitchen and as a result, where Shaista and her children spend most of their time, is inside.
“We were asked to shift here by a man residing in a tower next to this building and by a shopkeeper near it.
They told us to look after the buildings since there have been incidents of people stealing the building’s switchboards, marble, tiles and construction material,” she said.
Shaista works as a domestic worker in the apartment buildings next to the tower when she was asked to live in the ruins, regardless of her personal safety. However, speaking to her it does not seem like it was a bad decision since she and her family are provided with the basic amenities of life.
Prior to this, they were living in a “jugi”, without any facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2011.
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