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From Dibai to Karachi

A brief memoir of my heritage

Photo courtesy: Tourism India

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but my roots belong to a small town, Dibai in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, India. I never got a chance to visit the place, but I have heard many interesting stories from my elders. Gandhi and I were born on the same day, October 2nd. The only characteristics we share are sexual frustration, anorexia and a deep need to realise Truth. I’m not sure if those 3 are related in any way.

My birth, just like the partition of India, was no coincidence, in fact, I believe it was a great conspiracy of angels and Jinn (demons). It’s not necessary that Jews are behind every strange event that occurs in the world, as many people in the Muslim society like to believe. If the Jinn were Jewish, then that’s another story. How my ancestors left everything behind and migrated to Karachi, was indeed a painful journey. All that struggle lead to my creation. It was agonising yet liberating, for us Mohajir (migrants)

I was an extremely lethargic child. While eating, I would place the bite on the corner of mouth like naswar (tobacco snuff) and lose myself in my dream world. It seemed as if I was stuck in limbo. Sometimes, flies would start roaming around my mouth, celebrating my death, and suddenly, I would wake up, distracted by their buzzing, leaving them disappointed, otherwise, my parents would snap me out of my trance, just before the food would begin to decay. This is how I grew up, mostly day dreaming. You can imagine how my childhood must have been. If you can’t get a clear picture, then please allow me to explain further.

In the early 90s, I came to my senses, and found myself in Nanoo’s (grandmother) house in Sea View Apartments. We used to live in a joint family, and it was quite a violent household, with everyone arguing and fighting. Some one would either pull the other person’s hair or you would hear them cursing. Things would hardly be fine. If it was quiet, it was most likely because they were ignoring each other.

Besides neurosis, we all had a disease called TV. No, that’s not an abbreviation for “too-much violence”, it’s the original term, television. This common but non-threatening condition had no cure, back then. It made us all sit together in front of a huge box with an antenna. We would all be mesmerised by the transmission on the screen. Every weekend, my aunt and cousins would join us, and we would watch our favourite show, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

Grief runs in our blood, since we belong to a Shia Muslim family. That explains the lack of peace. The noise of my dysfunctional childhood still echoes in my mind. But sometimes, a curse can also be a blessing in disguise.

In the last 31 years, there hasn’t been any struggle or tragedy in my life. Like any other person, I carry the burden of my past. I too have suffered from loss and heart break, but life has its mysterious ways of healing you.

They say, if you want to make God laugh, then tell him about your plans.”


From Dibai to Karachi was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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