At Roadside Café: Three cups of tea and a gunshot

The gunshot sound pierced my mind like a knife and though I pretended to act oblivious, I was ready to die that day.

Nefer Sehgal October 08, 2012
When I used to go horse riding I learnt that whenever you fall off a horse you have to immediately pick yourself up and get back on or you will develop a fear for life. The truth is on the outside I seemed determined but after falling nine times it got to my head and gave me a bit of insecurity.

I mean do you know how irritating untrained and unpredictable horses can be?

Karachi I feel is the same; yes we are resilient but we are lying to ourselves if we say that it doesn’t eat at your nerves one nip at a time. Or maybe it’s the humidity that grinds my gears - I do not know.

On Friday October 5, I was sitting with a friend at my favorite hangout having a cup of tea venting about LUMS grads I was forced to encounter all the time. It had been at least an hour into the conversation when I heard a familiar sound. The single gunshot sound pierced my mind like a knife and even though I pretended to act oblivious I was ready to die that day.

I have been shot at twice and both times the gunmen missed and I always joked about how the third time was going to be the charm. The only comforting feeling, if any was that I picked a fabulous outfit to pass away in.

I saw one gun man scurry away past me from the corner of my eye and another man shut the gate behind him. At the time I thought it was someone chasing after him. I calmed down because now I knew I was safe. Now I knew I could make an exit trying to make my way through a sea of panic-stricken people who stood still like zombies.

It was then I heard a woman scream for help.

She informed the crowd that someone has been shot.

There, in the mostly lit area of the café, a man lay on the ground. Yes and this moment I will admit it, by the power of Star World and Meredith Grey my hands went on top of his chest and I pressed down as if my own life depended on it. Thankfully for my friend and I, we got a few people to lift him up and get him into a car. They tell you never to ride in cars with strange men but I think I broke that rule in college ages ago, multiple times.

In the car as I kept pressing on the wound I forced the victim, Abdul Lateef Bawany, to make small talk with me. During the conversation I found out he was a LUMS grad - oh the irony. But it was good he was coherent and kept on talking. I think I had a moment of fear run through me when he looked at me and said this was it for him, but thankfully he was still moaning so that was a sign it was just the pain taking over him.

I have to give props to Ziauddin Hospital because they brought out the stretcher fast and admitted him in. If anything the doctors over there are the real heroes, because at the end of the day, yes I helped to decrease the blood gushing out but that alone couldn’t have saved his life. And I haven’t seen enough episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to have performed the surgery.

He is going to live, I am happy about that.

But I had my own demons to battle with, so day before yesterday I went out and yesterday on October 7 I went back to Roadside and enjoyed a cup of tea with a friend.

At the end of it all, I have to get back on the horse again. I have to be a Karachiite.

But at what price?

How many times can one fall before it’s the end of the road? I guess only time will tell.

This blog originally appeared here.

Read more by Nefer here or follow her on Twitter @nefersehgal

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Nefer Sehgal A freelance director and a photographer.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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