My Trip to Karachi
by Ankita Choudhary
How I wish I’d made a note of my emotional state before embarking for Pakistan! Are you wondering why? Only to make the comparison easier!
Today, I cannot bring back that apprehension, that fear of traveling to an enemy nation into my writing. I cannot quite pen down in appropriate words the anxiety, the nervousness mixed with excitement…those feelings are now so dim…..I’ve lost them…. and now it’s like they never existed.
We crossed the Arabian Sea, but to my surprise ;-) the water didn’t change its form, neither taste, nor appearance; neither did the flora, nor did the fauna; nor did the hoardings, nor did the dust on the roads, and neither did the faces of the people. Nobody stared at me like I was a foreigner. My eyes were disappointed after an endless search for at least one person who’d look like: ‘He’s not from one amongst us’. It was hard to believe that I was not in Bombay, sincerely!
I don’t know if I can find another country where I can speak in my own language, and be interpreted in theirs, without any alteration in the meaning. I even bargained with the shopkeepers myself over some earrings in my mother tongue, in a foreign land, with the currency still called Rupees, only the form of the note different.Nabiha was always there to ensure that I wasn’t cheated.
I’d altogether forgotten that I was in a so called ”Enemy Nation” until the security guard forbid us from getting of the coaster just to set our foot on the beach. But how could I allow myself to be deprived? We got into our friends’ private car without a security guard and urged them to take us to the beach. I just wanted to feel the sand, smell the ocean and sniff the sea breeze, and no sooner than I had done that, that even without closing my eyes, I was back home, at Marine Drive in Bombay….it was just the very same feel. Had I touched the ocean waters(which were dangerously low), I’m sure, I would’ve felt the electricity connecting Bombay and Karachi., because my heart was already magnetically mesmerized.
If the description of just the first six hours I spent in Karachi, that too without giving any details, took two pages, imagine how much I can write about the next THIRTY hours; and imagine how much my friends, who spent five whole days in the captivating land of Pakistan, can write.
And to think of it, I had no past connections with Pakistan…No ancestral homes…No long lost relatives….But there were many in our delegation and millions back in my country with such ties. One doctor, while speaking of these relatives and Indo-Pak relations, broke down into tears and sobbed, and he sobbed with such painful sighs, he made the whole audience cry:-(
In the end what really matters are these little things that made such a difference. The way our Pakistani friends dissolved our fears, demolished those man made walls of hatred and enmity built by fanatics, and stretched our horizons of friendship and bonding, with being ‘just themselves’, no agency or known relative or someone of my kin has ever succeeded in doing before.
And now the icing on the cake:
And the people back home call them our enemies...what a disgrace....
P.S.: Read it at least twice to fathom the depth of my feelings. Every word in this write-up is true and heart felt!