A street artist applies the final touches to a mural, part of the 'I am Karachi' campaign, as a motorcycle passes by in Karachi. PHOTO: GETTY

To my Karachi, the city of sin and believing

This history and beauty that we let go, it still exists, just muted and diluted from before.

Zahra Hasan July 07, 2019
To Karachi,
The one that I see,
As I walk across the kachi mitti,
Right next to the bustling streets.
Walking amongst people,
Each so different from each other and from me,
But united by a common identity, a common home, Karachi.

To the Karachi with pain,
Hot, humid and sticky with lack of rain.
Where the sidewalk is filled,
With people who mill about - purposelessly.
Wasting through their day,
Hoping someone will have the money to pay,
For a meal or two for their family,
Maybe new clothes, maybe something sanitary.

To the Karachi of the poor, of the hooker, of the whore.
The one that’s unforgiving and harsh,
Where with finding another job and finding money you can never be sure.

To the Karachi of lights,
That arises at night.
When the bright sun sets and the darkness descends.
The Karachi I see in the streams of fairy lights,
That glitter like the gota on a jora (dress),
Ostentatious but simple.
A paradox much like the city,
That also shows both the light and the dark,
The grand and the understated.

To the Karachi of the motorbikes and rickshaws,
That roar through the city.
The holler through the streets,
Filled with people screaming with joy,
Finding life in the speed of their toy.

To the Karachi of dhabbas,
Filled with smoke and stardust.
The warm chai, the sutta (cigarette puff), and the breeze.
The oily parathas and sticky jalebi.
The city of food and fearlessness,
Of unhealthy habits and a death wish.

To the Karachi of the religious,
The one filled with mosques and sermons,
The one run by the pious,
Ringing corner to corner with the sound of God's call five times a day.
This is the city of the spiritual,
The ones who feel god in every move,
Who sit in mazaars for hours on end,
Atoning for sins and finding their peace with the dead.

To the Karachi that has history,
Hawkers, book sellers and mystery.
The one that speaks of Partition and culture,
And every corner is another reminder,
Of the past and the grandeur.
This history and beauty that we let go,
It still exists, just muted and diluted from before.

To the beauty and the ugliness,
The setting sun and the mountains of trash.
To the smells of flowers and the stench of the gutter or the fishy sea in the low tide breeze.
To the city of the rich and the poor,
Of the satisfied and of those at war,
Of trauma and of healing.
To my Karachi,
The city of sin and believing.
Zahra Hasan
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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