Forgive the extremely long delay, but the obstacles of exams, procrastination and laziness have finally been overcome and this piece may be written and read in peace. I take it that you may need a refresher of Part One; you will find it here. Polish your armor and sharpen your swords. The battle is about to begin. (And thank you, Tsani, for the idea).
Part Two: Welcome to the City
And so our plane landed in Karachi after a descent that was particularly unkind to my ears. I’m sure that my eardrums were courageously defending themselves against the falling air pressure, but all I could feel was a deafening, pounding pain: two imaginary hands squeezing the sides of my head.
I felt a lot clearer as we walked into the Arrivals at Jinnah International Airport. I switched on my phone while standing in the Passport Control queue, and lo and behold, it is bombarded with a fleet of text messages. The first one goes something like this: “etisalat wishes you a safe stay in Pakistan. The following roaming charges shall be applied ….”. It goes to list just how horrendously expensive it is for you to call and text. My mind then drifts towards the Pakistani Ufone SIM card in my wallet, currently running on negative credit, and I smile. It felt good to so good to be in Karachi that I couldn’t care less.
I send out one message, saying that I had landed safely and was waiting for my passport to be stamped. Concerned family are quick to respond, and by the time I have reassured my parents that I’m fine, told my waiting uncle that I’ll be done soon and asked a cousin for cricket scores, my credit is dead: a valiant martyr in the merciless battlefield of hefty roaming charges. Suitcase (remember the armoury?) and younger sister in tow, I walk out of the airport and into Karachi.
The contrast between the two is inexplicably beautiful. From the cool lounges to the warm urban air. From the quiet hum of security to the vibrant buzz of the streets. And from the subdued overhead tube lights to the bright lights and city skies that called my name.
Bad times may take away our food, petrol, electricity and even Prime Minister, but they will never suck the life and spirit out of Karachi.
Arriving home was sweet relief to my sore ears. I dumped my suitcase in a room, and, following the obligatory ritual of hugs, kisses and “how was your flight”s, dragged my tired but happy self upstairs. My jet-lagged biological clock does not realize that it is 5 a.m. I was falling asleep as the rest of the world was waking up.
At that moment, a sleep Dulhan-to-be walks out of her room, rubbing her eyes. She blinks, bewildered, and for a terrifying moment I think she doesn’t recognize me. But then she gives me a loose, drowsy hug. “I’m so glad you’re here”. The feeling is mutual, dear Dulhan.
The Dulhan-to-be’s twin, on the other hand, is less discrete. She lets out a loud, shrill scream: “Eeeee, Raweehaaa!”. Ouch, my ears. As I am engulfed in a second, much tighter hug, a heavy masculine voice is heard from the next room. “Would you girls shut up? I’m tryna sleep.”
Ah, home. Did I mention how good it felt to be back?