Hill Park, one of the oldest parks in the city, turned out to be jam-packed with Pathan families and friends alike. I had previously witnessed this kind of rush only on a rare Sunday evening. From the parking lot at the entrance, right till the widely popular circus in the rear of the park, people had set up volleyball courts, picnic camps and barbecue grills. There were scattered groups sitting on the grass, passionately conversing in Pashto and cracking up at each other’s jokes. What particularly stood out were the small gatherings of young twenty-somethings unreservedly dancing to their traditional songs in the middle of various public spots around the park.
There was a similar type of frenzy at Quaid-i-Azam’s Mazar (mausoleum), where hundreds had gathered along with their loved ones. Small (but apparently very popular) food joints such as Dilpasand on M.A. Jinnah Road and others in neighboring areas such as Kharadar and Aram Bagh also attracted fancily dressed couples, families and friends having fruit chaat, gol gappay and halwa poori.
As I traversed different parts of the city, I would often come across people hanging onto any and every corner of overflowing buses, advancing towards their respective destinations with freewheeling smiles. I decided to stop at Boat Basin and Khadda Market before heading to Clifton Beach, Devil’s Point, and other popular restaurants on Sea View Road. Desi food outlets such as Thaali Inn, Qasr-e-Nakheel, and Hot ‘N’ Spicy were packed with enthusiastic, dressed-up Balochi and Sindhi groups.
My expectations about the turnout at Clifton Beach were surpassed by a mile, as I saw hundreds line up against the gushing waves on the shore. Families, friends and children splashed water at each other, eventually quenching their thirst with strawberry chillers, fizzy drinks and other refreshments being served at thailas (food carts) nearby. To avoid the ensuing traffic on Sea View road, I took off towards Devil’s Point, a famous rocky shoreline a few kilometers from Clifton Beach. Serving as a recreational and fishing spot, Devil’s Point greeted families and others who had failed to secure a secluded spot on Clifton Beach. Dozens sat on the rocks, enjoying the cool sea breeze while glancing at the distant horizon.
Against the backdrop of increasing disparity, discontentment and insecurity in this city, I realized something profound on this Eid: this occasion meant the world to the people of Karachi. On this day, people refused to be afraid and confine themselves within the walls of their homes. On this day, they felt safe to take to the streets with their friends and families, let their guard down, and dance like there’s no tomorrow. On this day, they stood united with their fellow citizens, and for once, did not hesitate to share their true self, which is peaceful, loving and joyous.
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