A Winter Day In Karachi

An absurd piece originally written on the 15th of January.

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Shops are still sleeping with their shutters wide shut. It is 7:30 am as I speed past these closed shops and abuzz  dhabas with comparatively slower flashes of chai being poured from a big steel saucepan into small, murky, translucent glasses. This is a common site in Karachi at every commercial nook and cranny along side occasional stalls of warm clothes (being sold at very economical rates). Another treat to the eye are dry fruit and seasonal fruit vendors, infrequently lining up the footpaths.

I say ‘slower flashes’ because a rickshaw is still comparatively slower even at its fastest. Yet rickshaws allow a great deal of visual experience from either of its open entrances.

But its a winter morning and its not the usual kind of cold today. It’s not the mild, pleasant, characteristic-of-Karachi cold today (those who have lived here for a while would know what I am talking about). It’s different. Perhaps that is why the rickshaw driver has also taken measures and fastened removable doors at either sides. And although that obstructs my view of the world outside, I couldn’t be more grateful to him for this kind gesture of good will.

The cold today is silent, even merciless. It has forced me to stuff my hands under the long pockets of my woolen jacket as I sit completely wrapped up from head to toe. Its the apathetic kind of cold which discourages people from taking their hands out of their pockets to shake with others. Its the kind of cold which discourages people from stretching their chapped lips from one end to other. Skin around the mouth is too dry and torn and smiling hurts. Its the kind of cold when people avoid shaking hands with and smiling at each other and even though Farees says its nothing in comparison to where she lives (negative degrees of Toronto), it’s still a biting chilling, windy cold. And Farees understands. The kind of cold which would make you rather uncomfortable than cozy with your cup of coffee because the cold wind does not only lance through the nostrils but also blows away the warm vapour rising from the cup like the phantom of cold spirits.

And as I sit here in the rickshaw making mental notes for this write-up, fragmented verses of Rossetti’s ‘Winter-My secret’ are continuously echoing in my head: Today’s a nipping day, a biting day/ whoever shows, his nose, to Russian snows, to be pecked at by every wind that blows. And it feels like Rossetti wrote it for this day (though Karachi has never seen a speck of snowflake), but the poetry pretty much understands my state of mind. Perhaps to get a better idea of what I am saying, you could check out the whole poetry (with analysis) here:

http://www.cieliterature.com/winter-my-secret/

So where was I? Yeah, I basically do not want anyone to be pecking at my nose today. Do not want anyone asking how I feel. What am I up to. Nothing. I want to stay behind a thousand veils and blankets, hidden in the rickshaw for God knows how long, secretly observing the world outside from this battered plastic window in the rear of the rickshaw. Beautiful yet weak golden rays filter through my eye lashes from this translucent window and somehow I feel useless and content at the same time. Its the kind of cold which makes you believe there’s no purpose to life whatsoever but which also assures you that you’ll do just fine sitting in this rickshaw all day long without the need of speaking to a human or smiling to a soul. You can sit here all day with a poker face and peacefully succumb to sleep or death whenever it comes.

Why I write this? To acknowledge the cold. To recognize the power it has had over me, my mood, my behavior. To make me reflect over the coldness that resides within me, and even more strongly, give hints of the warmth that has been hiding in some crannies of my heart. So next time, if you are feeling like a detached, uncommunicative, stolid misanthrope- it’s probably not your fault, it’s probably just the weather.

 

The pictures have definitely not been taken by me and downloaded from google after a rigorous search because the day I wrote this piece on, I could harldy even take my hands out of  the pockets, let alone hold the cold phone to take pictures. However I have carefully selected those which were the closest to what I usually saw on the roads everyday in winter. It has only been an attempt of sharing some of the visual experience of Karachi winters with you guys.

Coincidence Of Fate.

originally written on 13th January 2017

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Today marks another spin
Of this doting planet Earth;
Round the ball of fire,
The haughty ardent star.

A revolution has been completed,
From when it had all toppled down;
When a revolution had incited-
Within my naive fragile heart.

Today it was, today it is
When you became a part of this world;
And it was this day
When you also entered mine.

Since cupcakes have gotten
A little too clichéd;
And the candle’s warmth
Has long left our lives,

I send you today
Something so different.
A miniscule of what I gathered
Over all this time.

Gray and dark, heavy clouds
I hope the cold wind carries them fast;
I hope the present arrives on time,
Which I send you from miles afar.

Your favourite ones, as you once told;
Emissary of the colds and heavy rains.
They’ll save you the drudgery of unwrapping
By unleashing what they can’t sustain.

And while you drench yourself wet,
Please do say a prayer or two;
For the dried salt trails,
That map my parched cheeks in rue.

For birthdays come and birthdays go,
But each time not a star is born
And this one clings so close to heart
For teaching and leaving me forlorn
That shooting stars are not wished for
But that they are only wished upon.

Autumnal Spring

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Picture taken in my lawn today

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Central picture taken from my living room’s window, today. These leaves forced me to go outside in the backyard to take more pics.

Dews have long forgotten
Disparity of green and brown.
Breezes redolent of blossoms
Ride arid dusty gusts now.
Dispersal of wings above roof tops,
Discreet rather than discrete.
Echoes of chirping songs,
In their own commotions, drowned.
Her heart flutters with joy
Over cohesion of nature with within.
Songs of welcome are cried
For the novel autumnal spring.

This March, we experience an eerie spring. Flowers continue to blossom while the leaves continue to fall.

Lost and Seek

originally written on: 9th January 2017

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I sat down upon the oaken chair
To learn names of places I cannot pronounce
With a pile of books and messy hair
An atlas of unknown roads and towns

Though such knowledge was futile
All the paths would have led me astray
For my destination was a mirage,
So I ran upon the remote way.

I shut the books and failed the test
Frantically running with such zest
Behind a mirage, an only path
That was known to fill me with unrest

I pushed the oaken chair aside
Ready to recline in my creaking bed
But delusions bubbled up my mind
So I decided to write of you instead

Would you fancy knowing?
My cheeks glowed a sanguine red

First with ardour, then with anger
Funny how both start with ‘a’
I noticed, as I blackened the paper
And then laughed upon how you taught me
The importance of “gray!”

Then probably I shed a tear or two
Engulfed in my hues of blues
But soon smirked upon how this play of colors
Had no chance of amusing you.

A vision of your drowsy eyes
Melted down some dusty frost
As I lay on my bed with frozen sighs
Outside, in the dark, chilly night
Perhaps another star just crossed.