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Thursday, October 13, 2005


There were tremors in Karachi as well. It seemed appropriate, because how could a city a thousand miles from the epicenter remain unshaken by the tragedy?

Places have stopped accepting volunteers. The first day when no one knew about the PAF, it was merely disorganized. With the onslaught of teenage and twenty somethings it became a full blown mela with 800 people standing around doing nothing. Then the boredom set in, and the ass pinching and butt groping began. People began to get hungry and eat rations from the donation boxes.
I signed up for a waiting list at the TCF. They have too many people, they don’t want to be swamped with bodies they can’t handle. So I keep giving money, to anyone who would ask in the hope that it will help.
I gave blood, all the while feeling sick with the knowledge that they had no refrigeration to keep the blood of the 500 people they were collecting it from, and that they had no refrigerated trucks to transport the blood to the quake effected areas. That they probably didn’t have all the needles they required and were clearly reusing them. I gave it anyway, and then blacked out at the ATM and then again at sehri the next day. I’d never given blood before.

There are too many lootings, too much anger, too many predators taking advantage of what they perceive as weakness. Shopkeepers raising supplies of medicines, rations and kafans, people looting homes vacated after tremors. Quake effectees robbing trucks before they reach their destinations. People continuing to spend thousands on one meal at restaurants and plan their Saturday nights not shaken by the earthquake that seems too far away.

This is a mess of our own making. We have raised these ass groping, myopic, unidealistic mercenaries because we have been apathetic about social reform. We have raised generations without teaching them right from wrong. We haven’t taught them that queues are civilized, that helping others in need is good, that dirt is bad, that what’s wrong is wrong. This is a failure of people who know better. This is our fault.

I leave for Islamabad tonight. And like when I was giving blood, I know it won’t help. The roads are bad, there is no transportation, and once you get there, there are no supplies or places to stay or things to eat for your relief efforts to be sustainable. They need able bodied men right now, or doctors; people who can carry goods and help people. They don’t need a woman from Karachi who blacked out twice the day before and is there just because she’s held helpless by conscience.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

meeting twain

She bends over the sink and busily scrapes the brush across her teeth, lathering the bright blue gel into a cheery foam that drips down her chin. She notices a bright stripe of red that has gushed across the white froth just as she openes her mouth to spit out.
She coorlies and then opens her mouth and watches the water curl into the drain, making sure she keeps tapping her foot on the orange tiles hoping the vibrations keep the cockroaches at bay.
She gathers the trickles of water from the tap into her hands, and then splashes it onto her face. She puts a tiny amount of the pot of cream onto her cheeks, and then wiggles into her comfortable see-through cotton shawar kameez, adjusting the AC vents so that the blast isn’t directly on the bed. She goes out to get a last drink of mineral water from the fridge perched in their sitting room, and then puts her head into her parents room and says “shabbakhair”.
She makes sure there aren’t any stray mosquito’s to torture her in the middle of the night, and then shuts the light.
She says her ayat-ul-kursi (to ward off bad dreams and what not) as she snuggles into bed, and falls blissfully asleep.


Shes talking on the cordless as she watches TV standing in her loft as as she brushes her teeth, and then neatly spits and gargles into the convenient kitchen sink just outside the bedroom partition. She fills a glass with tap water and takes a drink, and then walks over to her bedroom and strips down to a tank top, then hunts around the newly laundered basket and snuggles into fresh boxers.

She hangs up after making plans for next weekend. She slathers her face in night cream, puts eye pads on her eyes, and collapses amid the dirty clothes scattered on her bed, and falls blissfully asleep.