I am disgruntled. I am at the point before cynicism where nothing much matters. I got myself into a meaningless debate about the military operation. I changed no one's mind. I was appalled by the coldness of liberals. People who normally speak of civil rights and due process now acknowledge, with a heaviness in their hearts, that they must support the operation.
Ugh. Since when did mass murder become worthy of support?
But what material difference does it make if I am appalled. We are not coming to the streets in masses to oppose the operation. We held protests and marches last year - we interviewed and collected data, but all that achieved was one night of detention for a bunch of activists.
Hence I am at that point before cynicism where I question everything, and nothing really matters. Hence the tambourine man.
"I'm not sleepy, and there ain't no place I am going to."
I am a bhangi. I am a chamar. I used to be a panah-geer. I would wear a Che Guevara t shirt, except, I care for it even less than I care for lawn prints. I really do miss the karachi of yesteryear, the karachi of my father where he played soccer with the sheedis, and spoke in Baluchi phrases. I remember the days when I took rickshaws and climbed into public buses, and walked miles because the car's petrol ran out. I remember falling in a gutter and bleeding (and grinning) through my shalwar all the way home. Thinking now that without the pashtuns, karachi would seem contourless. And thinking then that they stared so bad, those bastards, you could not get a proper look at their flawless features and Bond faces.
And I remember loving the freedom of the streets of saddar. I had discovered, at 15, the mad liberation of walking through zaibunnisa street, by services club and trinity church, to the metropole area. Nothing more aggravating than being stuck at Regal Chowk in traffic, waiting for zed 2 to pump its engines. Infinite intervals.
My favorite was gaping into the deep deep police colonies on Garden road, and fantasizing about the hundreds of families it held. Same feeling, I got years later getting into NYC from Boston on a chinatown bus, and seeing a concrete jungle in Bronx. Each balcony decorated in a different shade of Christmas. Each family containing with its confines its own story of immigration, and loss. And graduations. And I felt such a closeness with Trinidad and Haiti.
Now, back in Karachi, I see a sanitized showcase of a life. Glowing with toxic consumerism. Fashions that flow in vulgar dismissal of the choking poverty the rest of the city is mired in. Of course, like any normal person who finds gross disparity fundamentally disconcerting, I want to reject too many things.
Facials, for example. And eyebrows. I want to fight with moms who take their kids to the best coach at beach luxury, the only ballet teacher in town. Or order children's clothing from catalog. When most people can not afford x-rays and pay Rs. 100 for schooling.
I told my students that by choosing to teach, I had taken the nun's path of obedience and poverty. But not chastity. Smiles. (Relative poverty)
Then, inappropriately, one day, I referred to Adam and Eve's expulsion from heaven as deportation to a group of confused students. And worse still, I said the story was in the Book of Genesis. And then I made self conscious sweet hindu students who know neither Bible nor Quran. And I wracked my brains for legal references to the Ramayana, but failed.
I spoke to a woman with a crumpled thousand rupee note in mcdonalds. She wore a burqa and thick gloves and furtively sipped a Rs. 75 pepsi alone. I asked her she was hot in the burqa. And happily she talked, her eyes containing some great sadness. You get used to the heat.
A man outside the park propositioned to me, and I told him I was not a professional. He had pulled up behind me on a street where a few months ago, a few hookers would stand in full make up and tight jeans. He acted surprised and said how could I imagine such a thing and he just wanted to walk with me and get to know me. I told him I had two children. Doesn't matter. I said it does matter, I also have a cute husband and have no need for such a relationship. That does not matter. I just want to get to know you. I have been following you for quite a while, and find you pretty. It does not matter that you have kids, can we meet in the park?
And at this point you are wondering, I must have slapped him or said Buzz off, crazy man.
Quite the opposite, I told him -- yes, yes, of course -- in great sarcasm (if I may add in my defence). Great, he said. And I walked off in a frightened rabbit's hurry. Now here's the thing. A few seconds later, I realized he thought I was serious. Was I?
I am not interested. I will be avoiding the park religiously. I am not even remotely intrigued by the idea of romance or promiscuity. Been there. Done that.
(I mean S is the real stuff I am thoroughly co dependent and loving it; and have nightmares that he may have some life threatening stomach illness.)
I am not looking to having my ego stroked, and compliments like this make me uncomfortable, not luscious. I'm really not looking for confirmation.
But because nothing really matters, I am also at the point of questioning the very paradigm that requires that I be irrationally antagonistic in every interaction with a man. Of course, practically, this was a stupid conversation to have. It was dark. I could have turned weird.
But at this age, and with kids, I have felt so confident about my sexuality - so palpably mature - so unaffected by the legendary predator male. So unaffiliated with anything to do with street hormone.
That like a nun, I was kind in my response. And to me he was no different from a burqa clad woman.
That perhaps we should all discover our inner jugni, a word I never understood until i read maya ganesh's blog.
Waiting for revolution, and being contained in the world.