If you’re in Karachi, your heart beats at a different pace than it would in Lahore or in Islamabad. The way a woman carries her purse is different — the grip is tense and her fear is evident. For men, the watch on the wrist has to be worthy of no remorse if stolen. We are encircled by incidents of snatched valuables and while we sympathise with the victims, we also silently wait for our turn.
Except for a few, the story of being mugged started out as frightening but ended up as purely bizarre. Among the muggers who prowl the city looking for easy targets, there also exist a few ‘fairy god muggers’ who do not appear to have wings but possess (somewhat of) a heart.
Waiting at a traffic light opposite a busy supermarket in Bahadurabad, brothers Ibrahim and Hasan Ahmed* were sitting in their car with the doors locked and the windows all rolled up. Soon enough they got a gun glued to the right-side window. Realising the precarious situation they were in, Ibrahim handed over his phone. Hasan handed a cover-up phone, one that he kept for this kind of an emergency. The man with the gun got agitated and asked for the ‘real’ one. With flashing speed, Ibrahim handed over the spare phone, his watch and wallet. The two muggers got into conversation, as one looked down at the valuables in his palms. After a quick debate, one of them knocked at the window and returned all the belongings. So unrobber-like, to say the least.
In another instance, Rashid Qureshi*, a tailor who worked at Tariq Road was asked to hand over his cell phone. He did not have any. “When I told the muggers I didn’t have a phone to hand over due to a recent mugging, they handed me a phone instead.” It was unbelievable. He was given the option to select for himself a phone from a bag that held nearly 50 snatched cell phones.
Another Karachiite, Karim*, had his wallet snatched at gunpoint. One of the robbers saw that the fuel meter of his car showed ‘empty’ so they handed him 400 rupees to get some petrol filled.
I do not mean to glorify the criminals; I just want to hold the mirror to the dismal state of affairs in the mega city. After all, this is a piece about being grateful for criminals not committing a crime.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2013.