KARACHI: On the evening of September 11, Mohammad Adil was very excited. At his workplace, he waited anxiously for his salary to be handed out so that he could rush off to Saddar. At a men’s boutique there, an off-white embroidered sherwani waited for him. In four days, Adil was to wear the sherwani on his wedding day.
But the 22-year-old, who wanted everything to be just right at the reception, never got to see his new clothes or get his salary. For that evening while he stood waiting at Ali Enterprises, a fire broke out at the ill-fated garment factory, burning him and his younger brother Asif alive. They were among the 259 people who lost their lives in the Baldia factory blaze.
Only a week ago, Adil’s humble house in Orangi Town No 7 echoed with wedding songs. It is now home to grief-stricken people. Shell-shocked, his mother sits in a corner staring into space. Though a week has passed since her two sons perished in the fire, she refuses to budge from that end.
Adil’s room which was decorated with buntings and streamers for his big day remains as it is. “We haven’t removed anything from here,” said Adil’s elder brother Raheel crying. “We can’t believe he is gone.”
Two months ago, Adil had married a colleague from the factory in court against the family’s wishes. But after much pleading, the family gave in to his wishes and decided to hold a joint valima reception for Adil and his older brother on September 15. Like Adil and Asif, Raheel also worked at the factory but was on leave for his wedding. The three brothers worked as machine operators on the third floor of the factory, where the highest number of deaths were reported.
The family came to know about the factory fire through a phone call. “We were packing clothes and singing songs at that time,” said their sister Asma. “We left everything in the middle when our relatives called and rushed to the factory. We also heard people screaming for help.”
The charred remains of Adil and Asif were found two days later from Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, identified by their blackened mobile phones.
With the family devastated by the two deaths, Adil’s widow remains at her house. His father has quit driving his rickshaw and Raheel’s wedding was put on hold.
The family says that the only thing that might give it some solace is the punishment of the people responsible for the tragedy.