KARACHI: You may have hated every single day of school for 11 years but as your last day looms, something will tug at your heart.
The climax of this feeling takes place at the farewell, a rite of passage in Karachi without which generations of teenagers would have never entered adulthood quite the same way.
These endings are also the time for many firsts: the first time a girl will wear a sari, the first time a young man will dance at an event that is not a mehndi, the first time sweethearts will attend an official event as a couple.
“It’s the most important night of my life,” said a Foundation Public School O Level student while talking to The Express Tribune.
“Everything has to be perfect.” He has ordered a tailor-made suit from America to mark the event and hopes to “dazzle all the ladies in class”. In addition to being a rite of passage, farewells, are occasions imbued with school pride.
“KGS [Karachi Grammar School] balls are something of a benchmark when it comes to farewell parties,” boasted one student from the school. “No other school in Karachi has been able to match how we do things.”
KGS and The Lyceum School will celebrate their farewells on the same day with the latter organising a masqueradethemed party. “The farewell committee will decorate the venue and make masks with sequins and glitter,” said a 17-year-old TLS student.
While the venue, music and food are all important, wardrobe tops the list for most boys and girls. “Everybody is going crazy about clothes,” said a Lyceum student, adding that there are certain restrictions about what girls can wear.
“The Lyceum has a very strict dress code. Girls can’t wear tights, capris or sleeveless,” said one dejected student. She felt that her previous school, Froebels Education Centre, was more relaxed about clothes. Similar dress-code restrictions, however, seem to be in place at most schools.
Some KGS students were sent back last year for being dressed “inappropriately,” said one student. School are also aiming to end the parties earlier than usual this year due to security concerns.
Hence, after-parties - the unofficial counterparts of farewells - will start before midnight this year, students informed. These private parties are arranged by the graduating batch and sometimes happen in collaboration with other schools. Students make sure that school management and teachers remain completely unaware of these gatherings.
The after-parties are also more exclusive, and in some cases more expensive as well, compared to the school farewell. “Only the party-going kids are invited,” said a KGS student, while a Foundation Public School student said that the ticket this year is for Rs2000, more than what any school is charging.
“We learned on Facebook last year that there was a private gathering [after the farewell] but I’m not sure if it was a proper party,” said a teacher from St. Michael’s Convent High School, adding that the school tries to discourage such activities. When so much is being invested into the night, monetarily and emotionally, it only stands to reason that students want a memorable record.
Celebrating the coming of age " It’s the most important night of my life Says a Foundation Public School O Level student Hence Jimmy’s studios sees increased business around this time of the year, sometime having to shift other appointments to accommodate students in the hundreds, all lining up to have their photographs taken.
“On the days of the farewell parties, there is a rush of cars outside and excited faces everywhere,” said a worker at Jimmy’s. The students are heavily dressed and most girls wear saris, he added.
This year too, the entire O Level class at Foundation will gather at Khadda Market to have their photographs shot either at Jimmy’s or Dossani’s. Later, all the 200 students will get into 20 identical rented Mercedes or four-wheeled drives to arrive at school “in style”.
This is one night when they will make sure everything goes right.
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