Silent hearts

Six times a week when I commute from my home to the Ziauddin Keemari hospital, I pass by the majestic buildings mapping the Saddar town of this vibrant city. They’re very enchanting, very mysterious. “What secrets are you guarding?” Old family feuds, tragic heartbreaks, black money, political conspiracies? Tell me!

They stand silently, these buildings. Like silent hearts. They’ve seen the worst of their beloved – this Karachi – and borne it all. And now every time they see a nameless young lad stealing a few pears from the fruit vendor, their silence deepens. Every time they see an unmasked man use a small, black pistol to rob a young father of his infant’s milk money, their silence booms. Every time they see a young girl hurrying home from the vultures’ eyes, their silence shrieks. Every time the political strikes eat up the city’s economy, they go silent. Every time Power spills the innocent blood, its silence turns into a cacophony. It deepens and deepens until you can no longer take comfort in the bustling signs of life around you because that-which-is-felt-but-not-said is booming very loudly. It’s pretty much like hearts that go silent after going out into the battlefield – hoping to win – but returning as a Ghazi, with arrows piercing its fragile epicentre. And then they no longer want to know what letters, and words, and phrases, and sentences mean. Or how bitterness is different from the sweet sweetness. Or how patience and longing are a match made in Heaven.

It’s a strange city, with stranger people.

Just don’t ever say, “I hate you!”


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