Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Karachi Kahani...East Wharf, West Wharf, Dreams.

A Short Story
By Meherzaidi.

Life was too rich in this stinky, oily hot sector 22 of his  mad, wild , beloved city. He stood on the pier, small, creeky, yellowish brown in the light of the setting sun. Munna came here every evening after work.He came to enjoy the sea and to meet his friend Dilawar. He counted the coins in his small hands with dirt in its creases and dirt under the finger nails. Small hands hardened and blackened. He smiled. His pink lips parted and his white teeth flashed. His smile lighted up his face. He had a wonderful smile. His boss at the mechanic shop also loved his smile. He said that all his tiredness disappeared to see him smile.So the coins were enough for today. They will buy him his food and the medicines for his ailing mother and his two siblings. One brother who was born with some injury to his head during childbirth , they said. One sister who had suffered from meningitis as the neighborhood doctor had said when she was  one year old.
The seagulls were making noises near the shore. Some people had thrown some fish and food there.The colorful kites filled one part of the sky as some children played outside the small shanty huts by the peir.He took a deep sigh as if missing the joys of kite flying and playing. He had lost his childhood. responsibilities of earning a livelihood had made him a man. He felt old his father. His father, a mechanic in a workshop, now frail and ailing too.
His friend Dilawar came whizzing his bike ."Come have a ride", he said. Dilawar was eighteen, sturdy and friendly. He was also an apprentice mechanic since the age of nine. He would work the whole day and happily share tea and biscuits with Munna."Ah" ,said Munna as he sat behind Dilawar on his shiny red bike.
"Zurr, Zurr" ,Dilawar revved the bike and off they went. Whizzing past the stalls on which fish was sold. Whizzed past the women cleaning some small fishes in the baskets. Whizzed past the gatekeeper and out of the gate of the Fisheries East Wharf. Quickly passing the roads , bumpy and uneven from the wear and tear of the heavy trucks and lorries passing over them without maintainence and repair. They entered the curvy,new overhead bridge. Inching slowly past the long trailers turning and entering another lane, they turned towards the West Wharf Peir Road.
Munna chuckled in sheer delight. He knew where Dilawar was taking him. He closed his eyes and felt the cool, oily , sticky breeze on his face. He felt it on his heavy lids with their long black lashes.He took a deep breath as if devouring the air, this moment, now.His tongue flickered out like a slimy snake as he licked his lips. His thoughts dwelled on the West Wharf pier. Beautifully redone with lots of food stalls, shiny, posh restaurants, a walking path along the sea and lights.Oh how he would love to go inside. He had never been inside. He just parked outside everytime with Dilawar, watching all the beautiful people in their expensive clothes and big , shiny cars go inside.
Some day I will be eating there. Some day I will bring my wife there. When I am old and rich. He thought every time.Dilawar stopped the bike where the guards would not scold them and beckoned Munna to the side. They both sat down hunching. All the people were getting down from their cars and going inside. There were whiffs of strange exotic perfumes in the air.There were chuckles and tinkering laughter in the air.This was heaven. He savored the pleasure of the moment.This was his world , this evening, today.
Munna dreamed he was all grown up in a black suit. A black suit just like Shahrukh Khan was wearing in Don 2 poster that smiled down on him near his uncle's workshop on M A Jinnah Road. His hair was slick like the hero too but he had no gun in his hand. Munna hated guns. Guns had killed so many in his neighborhood. He hated the wails and cries of the women, men and children when the slains' bodies were brought home for the funeral preparations. He hated dead bodies. He hated the white shrouds. He hated death. He wanted his father to live , even with his weak lungs and incessant cough and bouts of white phlegm. He wanted his mother to answer him smiling even if weak and tremulous, lying on her oft repaired charpoy, when he came back from a long and hard day's work. He wanted his brother with  weak, distorted hands and inability to stand straight to live. He wanted his sister to live. Even if she could not see him clearly with both eyes, even if she could not sit straight and listen to him. He wanted all his family to live , happily with him. All his family with their weak and disabled hands, feet, eyes and bodies. All his family with their coughs, sneezes, tears and sorrows. He was happy. He wanted them to live and he hated guns and death and shrouds.
His dream expanded. He entered the gate of the "Grand Cafe" where all the beautiful men and women were going. It was a dream. Lush surroundings. Lights. Strange dancing coloured lights and beautiful people around him.Munna was happy.This was his world. Lighted, fragrant and beautiful.
Then he heard a sound. A familiar tinkering sound of a woman's voice. "Dilawar' ! He opened his eyes. He came out of the dream in an instance. She was beautiful. Tall, dressed like Priyanka Chopra, smelling , oh, so good. She stood laughing in front of them, a tall woman in shimmering dress and heels.It was like he had come into a real dream again. The lady came towards them, her shiny car parked behind her.
"Dilawar, how are you ?" she smiled and laughed at the same time. "It has been so long I saw you last" "So many years. my, my, you have become a young man" "How is your workshop" "Oh, I can see your new bike"
Overwhelmed by her barrage of statements and questions. Overwhelmed by her presence, and surprised , Dilawar's mouth had fallen open. She was the "madam" who used to get her Volkswagon tyre fixed when Dilawar was a kid. She was the "Madam" who in the first week of the month got Dilawar a "Mr Burger" burger from her doctor's salary. Dilawar moved towards her and smiled. "What are you doing here and who is this young man ? your son? Couldn't be!" She laughed her tinkering laugh ,like sweet bells coming out of a fairy tale. She was a fairy. In his dream. But Munna's eyes were open.
"Remember the burgers, Dilawar?" "Yes, but..." stammered Dilawar. Munna wanted to go in with the lady to the Grand Port.He wanted to wear that black suit of his dreams. He wanted to have his hair slicked, shiny in place and he wanted to smell good.He wanted to be her prince. Munna smiled.
"Let us go inside" , came a harsh male voice from besides the lady."They are waiting for us and we will be late". A man in a suit nudged the lady. "Yes, yes " said the lady. She wasn't smiling any more. The stars in her big , brown eyes had vanished. The beautiful smile that had made her face shine and look child like, soft and radiant vanished. Her sure-footed step faltered. Then she regained composure and took out a card from her bag. She thrust the card in Dilawar's hands. "Promise you will telephone me tomorrow" "Promise , you will come to see me tomorrow" "Promise, you will have dinner with me tomorrow, Dilawar" "Just like old days?"
Her eyes were smiling. Her face was shining , child like. Bring your friend with you too. Do bring him, she bent towards Munna. Munna's head swooned as her scent wiffed in his nose. He felt heady, in a trance.
"Oh, but we can come her tomorrow for dinner, sure, we can do that". She said, smiling. "You  telephone me and we will fix time , Dilawar". Dilawar, nodded, keeping the card in his pocket safely. And then she was gone.
Munna and Dilawar sat on the bike and came back. They did not speak to each other till Munna's home . Their journey back was like a dream. They were snug and quiet. Each was thinking about today. Each was thinking about tomorrow. Munna was already thinking about the clothes he was going to wear ,tomorrow and his hair.

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