December 29, 2016

Today’s excursion was further out and our commute stretched across the city to Clifton. It’s amazing watching the activity on the streets here. There’s something going on in every little crevice and corner. It’s this about Karachi that I die to capture but alas, cannot. You can see the entire city at work: blacksmiths inside their shops, young men meeting each other with laughter, a boy tripping over something on his rooftop, his gaze toward the sky, and that sky full of kites (the bird) soaring high, with a single white kite (recreational) floating in between. It belongs to the little boy.

My mind is busy with ideas of how to draw and how to design—something that can explain what I’m seeing. I start to write things down in a new effort, as other mediums have always fallen short.

A lot of the the Clifton side is naturally cleaner, especially along Qaid-e-Azam’s house and museum. We pass by Jehangir Road, where my Dadi’s house—built before the partition—used to stand lofty until last year. My aunt and mom reminisce about the way the surrounding neighborhood used to be. I gazed down the street and try to imagine the home replaced by a large, unfriendly apartment building.

We cross many underpasses, and I’m delighted to see that many are painted with colorful patterns and murals. Passing through Clifton, I think of all the times we had had there, on Clifton beach, at Purple Haze, at Park Towers, and Dolmen Mall when it first opened. Everything feels like ruins here, but not exactly in a depressing way.

The first stop of interest that appears in our path at Dolmen Mall is Junaid Jamshed (nicknamed ‘J Dot’). We go in and begin looking at clothes. Junaid Jamshed’s stores regularly play his naats. After a few minutes one floods into our ears and we stop looking at things to look at each other. It’s Duniya ke Ae Musafir, the one they played during his funeral broadcast on television a few weeks ago. Our hearts seem to swell and freeze in the same moment.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-4-30-49-pmIt may sound strange, but Karachi is different because of his loss too. My aunt and my mom keep mentioning that it feels as though he was a relative of ours while we’d never even met him. I often think about Junaid Jamshed since he passed away. It is so commendable that he used his talent for his own country and stayed here, did everything as a Pakistani. Even his clothing stores, though criticized by many, in comparison to all the other designers are considerably more affordable and retain a sense of style. I believe it was in Tanhaiyan, an old Pakistani drama from the 80s, that the lead actress started her own clothing business to cater to not only the upper class, but other women too.

One of our relatives works at a place located near his clothing factory, and he says that Junaid Jamshed often visited and would talk and talk with the workers. They were so extremely sad when they heard he had passed. Sadaf told us about how Junaid Jamshed resolved to clean the trash off Karachi streets and his crew said: “No sir, we’ll do it, why are you picking it up with your hands?” to which he responded “Why shouldn’t I pick up trash with my own hands if all of you are?”

My aunt tells me a statement of his that has stuck in her mind and is making its way in mine now. He said to make three words a constant reminder in your life when dealing with others: ‘koi. baat. nahi.’ (It’s alright). In three words, he’s left us with the message of continual forgiveness, overlooking others faults, even their injustices, to keep living and doing our own best, for a Higher end.

It’s not an idolization, but simply a recognition: Junaid Jamshed is definitely in our hearts.

Allahmaghfir la-hu, Allahumma thabbit-hu. Oh Allah forgive him. Oh Allah, strengthen him.