Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Love Letter to Karachi

This post is taken from Astronutt's blog with her permission.


I miss you today. I've never been one to write love letters, except for the half written, unsent ones in my drawers, drafts, mind.

I was walking down a street in Boston and bits of you trickled down at me. a book cart in the middle of the street. the smell of jasmine - where the fuck did that come from? There was a broken building, it started breaking down fifty years ago, like that empty warehouse in flea market that no one bothered fixing but that no-one wanted to get rid of either. we Karachiites, we know this too well. How to hold on and let go at the same time.

I asked someone, when do you get to belong to a city?  Is it when you get a job there, settle down, whatever that means? I wonder if it has something to do with people. I am sure it has something to do with people.

A man at dinner told me, Of course you're from Kutch. Have you seen your eyes? and I wanted to say what are you talking about, I'm from karachi. have you seen what my eyes look for? they look for winding streets and broken stories. they search for meaning and solace in crowds they don't always find. they sparkle and come alive at the sight rain. they know when there's a stranger you can trust and when someone's had a bad day. they've memorised the shape of water against the sand and car dust in the sky the hopeful glance of a shopkeeper, rickshawala, streetchild. and they understand heartache and silence and the kind of love that doesn't make sense.

and they are often confused, just like you.

I was walking down the same street last year with a man who I'd only known through his writing. I ended up staying with him for two days. I learnt that you can know a lot more about people from how they write than from two days of occupying their couch and struggling with the formalities of human company... I wonder how I write about you? But that man, he was from karachi. He made the most beautiful paintings of you that came to my mind when I neared the end of this street now, a year later, where a homeless woman asked me for money. I didn't have any cash on me so I asked her if she wanted my lunch... she said no thank you, someone just got me some. Karachi, you're everywhere.

Someone else asked me what you're like. I said you're contradictory. they didn't understand and I thought of the essay I wrote on you two years ago. I've lost that essay... of course one would lose an essay on karachi... but I wish I hadn't so I could show it to them. maybe then they'd understand a little better. how you're hot and by the sea and overpopulated and all of that, but how you also map yourself inside me and inside the people i know and love. how i can't think about anything without thinking about you first. but you make no sense to anyone who hasn't known you, even though I tell them how your insanity helps me stay a little more sane miles away in another part of the world.

how you hold on while letting go.

If I had to give a meaning to your name, karachi, I know now it'd be that. to hold on while letting go.


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