Finding my way, from London to Karachi
In the middle of Saddar, the sky was brightly lit up with beautiful streaks of fireworks. I was home.
I was heartbroken when I moved home. In London, I had discovered myself; I found who I was and became independent.
I graduated, got a decent job and made lots of new friends. Every day my friends and I would gather in central London to have drinks with a quick meal and chat endlessly.
Central London was the most exciting part of the city; beautifully lit buildings, crowded bars, restaurants, movie premiers, theatre, street festivals, unexpected fireworks. I can write page upon page about central London, but that’s all behind me now.
Now, I am back in my city: Karachi.
Home is a difficult place to be
There is always something happening in Karachi as well. At first, the worsening political and economic situation here depressed me. After eight miserable months, I finally got a job and things started to improve. Eventually, I did start to recover and began progressing in my professional life.
Last week, I came across a file while cleaning my book shelf. It was the novel I had started writing in England. Suddenly, I wanted to start writing again.
A few days later, I met a professional writer. "Read a few books before restarting your novel," he suggested. I was in a position to spare some time so I decided to buy the books. That's how I ended up in Urdu Bazaar - central Karachi.
Finding joy in Saddar
A friend and I decided to meet on a dusty, polluted road in Saddar. The road was full of cars, rikshaws and taxis. Drivers honked their horns as if this would clear the jam. By the time we reached Urdu Bazaar it was after 8 o'clock - closing time. Somehow we found my books and by the time we left the entire market had closed.
On our way back, we came across Burns Road and our empty stomachs started to rumble. We decided to venture on to the famous food street and feasted on chicken tikkas, kebabs and hot parathas. Traffic had thinned out and finally, I was able to relax.
I realized I was in central Karachi, eating delicious food at a roadside restaurant with a friend. After a depressing year, I was actually enjoying Karachi. We chatted and laughed and wandered through the empty streets of Saddar. As we passed through the dark streets of Bohri Baazar, I noticed that the little centre pole of the bazaar was beautifully decorated with strings of Christmas lights. I felt really nice as this was something quite unexpected.
With the colonial architecture and the lights, Saddar started to remind me more and more of central London.
Peace in a city of violence
Some areas of Central Karachi had the air of a festival. Everyone seemed happy and everything was peaceful. The flow of traffic was smooth and women and children were passing by laughing.
I wasn’t too interested in finding out what was going on there. I was just happy to see this side of Karachi. Suddenly a familiar feeling arose in my heart; it was the same happy feeling I used to have in London.
“Wow, what a beautiful night,” I thought to myself, and just then something magical happened. A loud cracker exploded above our heads. We looked up into the sky and there were fireworks.
Yes, in the middle of Saddar, the sky brightly lit up with beautiful streaks of fireworks.
“What is going on?” I wanted to ask my friend but I was too stunned to talk. I felt like I was standing at Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus cheering for the bonfire fireworks.
I looked around. I was not in London; I was in Karachi but the feeling was the same - happiness.