I am stationary, and Karachi is movement

Published: February 11, 2018
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I am in my room, frozen in a time capsule I have created for myself. I could be running, if I wanted to. Except that I’d have nowhere to go. PHOTO: GETTY

Day 1

If I stared at the world around me, a few things would stare back. The clouds dancing in the iridescently blue sky, the sun shining in its eternal glow; maybe even the trees that stood amidst the streets of Karachi. The people are the only ones that won’t stare back.

I long for the day where I can look at a person, and they’ll look back and we’ll have had a conversation; not with our lips, but with our eyes.

It seems as if everyone is running somewhere. My mother is running to Khattak. My brother is running at the gym.

Yet I am not. I am in my room, frozen in a time capsule I have created for myself.

I could be running, if I wanted to. Except that I’d have nowhere to go.

I open the typewriter in front of me and refill the ink. I place a sheet of paper into it and align it to the left. I tap on the keys, as they are hard to adjust to if I haven’t used them in a while. And oh, has it been a while!

I feel a sudden rush as I type an ‘A’, and then an ‘L’; typing my name because I do not know what else to type. My fingers miss the feeling of the constant tussle between letters and space bars, and the pull of the typewriter as it forces me to create.

I’m neither in Karachi nor out. I’m not a part of the pathars (stones) that make up the streets, but I am one pathar. Stuck. Frozen. Lost amidst the thousands of pathars that surface the streets of Defence.

I am an ‘A’ on a typewriter.

I am a pathar on the street.

I am stationary, and Karachi is movement.

Day 2

I wonder what it would be like if I could grasp onto the reason behind movement – but I can’t. Maybe I won’t ever understand. I want to move, I want to be a part of it all, yet I can’t.

My typewriter sits in front of me. It should be moving; the letters should be clacking as I create, but my mind is elsewhere – it has been for a long time now.

There’s so much silence surrounding me. I feel it resonate within my bones, screaming to be let out, daring me to break it. Sometimes I think I’m imagining it. Imagining my life to be this quiet, this dark, this eerie.

I feel it shaded with a deep burgundy – the kind that conceals the sky just before dawn.

Yes, that’s the one.

I try describing it.

It’s too big.

And I think it’s now as much a part of me as I am of it.

I stare out at the dancing trees from the window, letting the smoke of my half-burned cigarette take over the room. Slowly the tobacco drifts into my lungs, and I can feel that one moment where the smoke eclipses the silence.

“Tell me about your day,” she whispers.

It breaks the spell.

I throw out the cigarette.

I had thought about it. Thought about whether she could handle the truth; whether it was enough for her to feed off of. But then again, I had no one else to tell.

She stares at me with those perfectly shaped letters, waiting for me to shift her to the left, and tell her everything that I can’t seem to form into speech.

I feel like it’s always 4:00am when you dream of dreams bigger than the impossible. The word rolls smoothly off the tip of my tongue. Dream.

It brightens my world for just one tiny second, as it comes to life in my head. Dream.

I hold on to it as if it were fragile, as if it were so precious it would break with just a glance. Dream.

I want to tell her that I have dreams, but she never believes me.

So I tell her what I always do.

I lay in my bed in the darkness – the only light coming from the one song playing over and over again in the distance. I felt in that moment, I could sink. I don’t really know why I felt like that.

Why it hurt.

I just know that it did. And the tears kept coming.

“Why do you cry?” she seems to ask, like she always does.

She’ll never understand, because I can’t understand myself.

My fingers crawl over the smooth black ‘I’, and then they stop. Why do I have to tell her about me? About the way I feel?

I found a strange comfort in that feeling. Like that was where I belonged, where I was supposed to be forever, and for the time after that. In my bed, in the dark, in that moment.

“What else?” she seems to ask.

Sitting here, trying to remember what it was like when I was happy. Or how long it’s been since I was happy, she almost asks me.

Maybe not, but just content you know? Anything close to it.

I stare at my tear stained cheek in the reflection of my laptop screen. The mascara that’s run down my face painted it with the kind of black that reminds me of winter days, when everything seemed brighter, even though the weather flowed with a dullness that is common to the way I now feel.

“Stop,” she says, like she always does.

It’s not worth it.

But the tears keep running, and running. I don’t know how to make them stop – I don’t even know how they started.

“Look at me.”

“I’ve never felt like this before,” I tell her.

This comes easily; my fingers almost find the letters themselves.

“Where is she?” I ask. “Where did she go…?”

It’s so confusing. Especially when you have to pretend like you’re playing ‘happy people’ all the time.

When the truth is hidden so far behind dark walls and loud voices and fake laughter that is snorted through iridescently sunny days, leaving you high off of a feeling that no one will ever truly know.

It’ll never stop, never stop.

Never end.

Just fade until it creeps out of the place it was hiding.

She sighs, like she always does.

I get up to leave, knowing that we will never meet again.

Day 3

I stare at her from my bed, thinking of my family outside my room, about the people all across Defence. They are moving. But I’m in my bed. And she’s looking at me.

Waiting for me to tell her something that I can’t even tell myself.

“Don’t you understand?” I say to no one at all. “I can’t choose both of us. It’s either you or the movement. It’s either my sanity or yours.”

I am an ‘A’ on a typewriter.

I am a pathar on the street.

I am stationary, and Karachi is movement.

Maheen Humayun

Maheen Humayun

The writer studied Literature and Creative Writing from John Cabot University in Rome. She is the author of the novella Special. She is currently a sub-editor at Tribune. She blogs at karachiiloveyou.wordpress.com/ and tweets @MaheenHumayun

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ryan

    It is not that good written, but I think the author is talking about the depression and anxiety that she cannot share with anyone else. Even not with her family.

    Anyways, Pakistani people do not understand the depression and they think that it does not need any medical attention.Recommend