'We are all Jiyalas now' - Letter from a friend in Karachi
The following is an email I received yesterday from a Pakistani friend -
While the city was celebrating, or glued to the TV on the 18th, I didn't get out of my meeting till around 5.30 pm. Why give up your day job, I thought, we'd still be doing more or less the same stuff, come the revolution or not. Then headed home and started getting calls from various people about joining the carnival. Finally the wife and I got out and mobilized some others too...
It was so festive. Unbelievable. You haven't seen Karachi so happy in such a long time. We went to the rally, then turned back, drove around the city, then decided to bo back to the rally. Someone gave as a flag which I knotted to the side of the car. It was all too beautiful, the city, the breeze, the flag, the people. That is when someone phoned someone, not sure who (ok, so we had been drinking a bit, and so had a hundred thousand others), that bombs had gone off. Carnival to carnage in six seconds.
We are all well. We drove home safely - went past many ambulances and police vehicles ferrying dead and broken bodies. I am feeling numb, maybe it's the hangover. It was sharp anger last night, and sadness today, and it will take a while to settle into determination that things have to change.
I've been on the phone to N., her father was slightly hurt but is okay, some 29 people from their Khairpur crowd are "missing". I've been calling and texting all the people I knew who were out and about. Cousins, friends.... Two boys from our mohalla died - I didn't know them and they weren't really party workers, just general supporters out for the carnival.
I got up in the morning and just went off to an office meeting again, out of sheer bloody-mindedness, or something. The mood there was really sombre. These are not political people, for the most part. NGOs, foundations. But everyone there was also feeling sad and angry, and really down, so it wasn't just the hangover. For some reason everyone seemed to know that I had been out and about the night before, and some of them sort of came up to commiserate. The main person hosting the meeting told the group at our lunch table that I was a staunch PPP supporter. Today was not the day to get into qualifications ... We're all jiyalas this week. This other woman from Lahore came up and said so was she. Good heavens!
The drivers and guards in our compound were also all shaking their heads sympathetically when I went out this morning. I think they'd seen the PPP flag tied to the car from the night before. One Pathan chowkidar asked our driver this morning if he could keep the flag. He can keep it, I'm sure there will be more where that came from...