Journalist and award-winning author Mohammed Hanif travels back in time to tell the story of the places he’s called ‘home’ in Karachi. He recounts a journey from the backwaters to the bright lights of the big city – and how the literary seed was sown…
Here is the story of seven places that are part of his story.
Mohammed Hanif in Newsline:
Aagay Samundar Hai
Your first home in Karachi is a little room in a big, empty house near Sea View. The owners live in Norway, the servants live in the house and you live in a little extension that was probably meant to accommodate those servants. You have one bag of clothes and books, a cassette player and three tapes. You drive a Suzuki 100 that you bought from a milkman. This is the first time in your life that you are living close to the beach. Judging by the stench, in the evenings it seems half of Karachi’s population has pissed in the sea. At night you wake up to the roar of the waves. For a few moments you are scared; is this a giant bellowing? Is it a tornado approaching? Is this what grown-up life is like?
A pair of Bengali servants – you’ll never discover their exact relationship – take care of the house. To your lonely heart it seems they have been hired to canoodle in every corner of the house. They seem so much in love with each other, it frightens you. You wonder if you should have rented the premises in Baloch Colony, where the owner promised that the water pump was situated only one street away and it would be okay if you wanted to keep goats.
Your sustenance comes from a one litre bottle of Fanta and a large fruit bun. You take a bite, you take a sip, you kick-start your bike and roar into the city. One day you pick up the bun and see fungus growing on it. You start spending your nights in Sabzi Mandi.