Eighteen women were trampled to death on Saturday at the lawn exhibition of a major designer who chose to remain anonymous. The melee ensued when 1,400 women arrived at the doors of the Garden Royale where the designer was exhibiting their latest summer collections. Eager customers had been promised three days of voluptuous shopping. But by the end of the second day all prints had run out. When the enthusiastic shoppers arrived the third day, they banged the windows and doors of the Garden. There was no response - which made some women burn in rage, and others curse like sailors. A guard then emerged to deal with the irate women. Indignantly, they demanded their rights to fabric.
It is rumored that the guard may have acted negligently in disclosing that two prints were still available, and that shoppers should see him the small godown behind the building. This resulted in a stampede to secure the prints. Now these gardens are badly designed, with corridors from the pre-colonial era, open gutters, and stray swines grazing. Several women slipped and fell. Other fell on top of them, and pretty soon there were bundles of fallen women.
Outside, the congestion and traffic caused by the lawn exhibitions prevented ambulances from reaching the dead and the injured. Several of the women could have been saved had they been rushed to the Middle East Hospital right next door to the Garden. But only recently, a hotelier got rights to build a luxury hotel with aquarium filled with live mermaids - and the hospital was demolished overnight.
Jamila, who wishes not to disclose her last name, cradled a bundle of cloth. She lost her daughter in law, affectionately called Pimple, in the stampede. Her own daughters are injured and recovering at Abbasi Shaheed Hopital. Fighting back tears, she held up the lawn and said, "I will dedicate these suits to the memory of my bahu, who was squashed this morning."
It is indeed a sad day for all designers and lawn makers, and it highlights how desperately we need to shift lawn exhibitions to rural farmhouses, or cricket stadiums. "We do not want to publicize our grief, and cheapen it so." Designers have lobbied media to block news of this story as it may impact sales.
"There is a desperation amongst the people," a local government official stated. "Naturally, when people are frustrated, whenever they get such an opportunity they grab the maximum."
(my respects to the forgotten women who actually died - not in a lawn stampede but because of poverty, in a quest for food - and inspired by the Maila Times."