I just want to say that objectively Karachi has been a cesspit to live in. I have inhaled enough toxins that I won’t be surprised if my offspring is a mutant. I have lost very dear loved ones to the bloodbath on the streets. I have seen old men and young, that I love very, very dearly, under its sky trying to thread together the splinters of their dreams and families. I have seen people I love, forced to live here and hate it. It has made me realize that hygiene is a luxury not everyone enjoys, just like time. I have seen people who can tolerate most things run away from the monster this city can become. And despite it all, despite all my losses and my traumas and everything this city has robbed me of, I have loved it.

I have loved it for being a home, a messy home but a home nonetheless. I have loved it for introducing me to pain and grief, and then showing me the pain and grief around me. I have loved it for teaching me that healing can only happen for all of us or none. I have loved it for teaching me that everyone has a right to heal and everyone has the responsibility to offer it. I have loved it for teaching me the joy in difference; the colour, taste, love and patience it brings to the streets. That colour, that taste, that love and patience can withstand years of fear and bloodbath and not give in.

I have loved it for teaching me that all of us suffer alone, but there is patience in knowing that everyone is fighting their own battle. I have loved it for teaching me that despite the hustle of the day, there exists just enough for most people here. I have loved it for being jagged and sharp and imperfect because it taught me that I can be loved for being jagged and sharp and imperfect. This city has taught me that you don’t fall in love despite flaws, you fall in love with the whole - flaws included. Ready to take the pain that falling in love entails.

This city taught me that the powerful will always have their fortresses, but the powerless can always rely on having one another and this city. No one has the time for you, and you are part of that no one and so you are someone and your time is collective and so everyone has it. Watching this city fall to development is a heartbreak I never thought I’d experience. To imagine that this chaos of a city could “progress” by excluding the very people who make it what it is, is being a voyeur to the unjust disowning of those who fought with it and hated and loved it when the powerful didn’t think it possible. This progress is unjust. This development is a farce, and if we are to continue walking on this road, we are on a journey to lose this mad city to the same demons we always end up losing everything to.

So all I can do is sit here and pray that when they are done with their mission to “develop” us, I’d be left with a city that taught me love and pain and a city that was home to the jagged, sharp, flawed me.

NAVEED ABBAS MAITLO,

Khairpur Mirs, January 28.