You can only live in Karachi to know Karachi. R is killing me this morning. She is a Hindu, rajput woman who watches the kids and cleans the house. I asked her why she was an hour late this morning. She told me her three year niece fell on the tava which was red hot and got some bad burns. She then tells me her sister burned to death two years ago, and this is a very emotional matter for her. At ten in the morning, this is too much to absorb from a woman I have known for six months. She told me as her sister was burning, she pulled her husband in with her. He died too. Both the father and mother-in-law were at home when this happened. She lived for four days in the burns ward. During this time she stated that "thinner" fell from the top shelf. She was standing near the stove. The police promptly dropped the criminal case against the parents in law. She and her husband left behind a two year old and a new born infant. R was in London at the time -- apparently with her ex employers.
Geo reported it. The mother in law claimed that it was a gas canister that had burst.
Now R's mother is a wreck. In their caste no one gets married in June or July. They did. And the pundit warned her sister and her husband that they should wait a few days to marry or they would both die. Seven years and seven days into their marriage, this happened. Now her three year old niece got burned as the house prepares for another marriage in June. The girl is an outside, a Gujrati hindu, and doesn't pay heed to the omens.
The promised positive post may never arrive.
How gently we must guide our children through the cruelties they must absorb, the negative magics they must unravel. A friend once said why send your kids to a top notch school. As activists it behooves us to emulate Humza Alavi and send our kids to government schools in Soldier Bazaar.
You only have to live and experience what this gargantuan test means for your children - that they must suffer for the unresolvable guilt you feel for the inequities of class - compromise any chance they have of emotional growth. How much will I be fighting with the teachers. How much will their spirits be crushed. Can little people rationalize deprivation.
On the flip, I am aware that the elite institution will destroy their natural humility, enhance their notions of self entitlement, normalize for them, injustice.
I was actually going to write about the religious diversity and religious integration of Sindh. This was going to be my positive post.
S traveled to Sukkur recently and was brimming with tales about the pluralistic traditions of Sindh. At Sachal Sarmast's shrine there is a grave of someone called "Sarita Kanya Lala." The grave is draped in a qul ki chador. This is the kind of unity and oneness that the Sufi saint inspires. That a Hindu devotee should choose to be buried. That the keepers of the shrine should adorn the grave in Muslim qalmas. It really is a slap in the face of bigots who can not stand that Ahmedis should say salaam, and have made it a crime for them to pose as Muslims.
My mother, from Aligarh, says in her home town Muslims often called their children by Hindu names; the person buried must be a Muslim. We dissuaded her because we so badly needed the good news.
I am not going sufi on you. But we need to invoke those sufi saints lest religious intolerance goes out of hand. (Wait, maybe that already happened.) I am trying to read Dr. Fehmida Hussain's book on the depiction of the women in Shah Bhitai's poetry.
But then what do you do when superstition clashes with the good in sufism. People going to mazaars with ill relatives, hoping cancers will be knocked out by the divine power of saints. People convicted that it was the shrine of Abdullaha Shah Ghazi that protected the city from a cyclone. I do find graves utterly charming. Devotional paraphernalia is pretty cool; but the irrational stuff just gets to me.
I complained to my labor party friend, the feminist, about the cost of petrol I said I spend about Rs.3,000 every two weeks. He told me wanted to save Rs. 24 on bus fare so he took a short cut from Rehri Goth to Landhi. RG is a predominantly Sindhi fisherfolk slum; Landhi is Pashtun. In between there are two mountains. Much like some tale in Alif-laila, feminist, ended up in a forgotten marshland and found himself surrounded by rabid dogs in a place called Geedarr Colony. Perhaps escaping the bullets of DHA canine killers, these dogs had formed a secret community in the forest. Feminist was able to escape a vicious attack because he found a sugar cane stalk. He hit he dogs; and they were scared. One particular mean one would race ahead and attack him from the sides.
I am looking at the feminist. "You know you are crazy, and I am going to put this on my blog." He said another friend of his would turn it into a story. We are a nation of poets and afsana nigars, and bloggers.
My major thought for the day is - all of you students living away from Pakistan, bleeding hearts and patriots. If you are contemplating a move back, do it. Don't sit in Starbucks too long; you know, the blended ice drinks will kill you. There is plenty to do out here. Its a dog eat dog out here. I think I am going to prepare an activist manual for people (the political and social minded) contemplatung a move back. But there is one rule. You add to it as you make new contacts.