As I dash from one weekend errand to the next, running across town over the vast expanse of Karachi, I can’t help thinking of my city as my first love. Though I have fallen in love with other cities since: Milan, Como and London, my heart still lusts after my first love….a love which consumed me leaving me exhausted, yet who’s company I enjoyed in my growing up days. My first love Karachi, who holds the secrets of my memories: the long clandestine drives to the beach, the first puff of a cigarette, the late night tambaku walla pan!
The last two decades have seen my city harden and become more cynical. She has lost some of her looks, becoming dirtier and decrepit with the passing of time. Bursting at its seams with a multitude of people from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds all thrown together in this hot and angry melting pot. This social, religious and economic chasm is ever widening with her inhabitants welding their arms at the smallest possible reason. There are times the smell of burning dreams suffocate me and I wish to turn away from this, rather than see my love disintegrate into smoke, yet I hold on; to memories of better days, to the ever lasting friendships this city has given me, and to the salty air which is ever so familiar.
Karachi is no longer the same person I knew when I was growing up, and neither am I the same girl anymore; yet despite her scars and deep, frown lines she has acquired under the weight of her changing constitution, I keep wondering what would happen if we decided to break up and I moved far away from her. With those thoughts in mind, I drive back home taking the ever familiar Seaview road. As I wait at the traffic light, I open the window and smell the familiar sea air, and hear the hawkers trying to peddle their ware amidst the sound of the sea water crashing against the rocks; at that very moment, my heart soars renewing my love for this aching city. As the light turns green, I shift the gear and drive on thinking ‘ Its good to be home’.