Recently, I was out with my cousin shopping for ingredients to bake a cake. Soon after we reached home, there was a loud bang and suddenly everything became silent for a few minutes.
I could hear a roar of bikes outside the house rushing towards Block 4 of my area; everything was in a state of chaos. A few minutes later, we heard ambulance sirens. There was a blast as the news reported; it was in Azizabad Block 8 – a block away from where I was just a few minutes ago.
There was panic in the entire area. Ambulance sirens were deafening and the whole episode had me tasting bile. My uncle went out to the blast spot to help out, but soon after we heard another bang which was way louder than the first one. Followed by the blast, mobile signals went out and we had no idea what to do.
My cousin and our neighbours went out to look for my uncle but came back with no news since the Muttahida Quami Movement’s (MQM) Muhafiz (guards) were not letting anyone cross Block 4 to reach the site.
News reports were terrifying at this point; three people had already been reported dead. What was even more frightening was the thought that amongst the three people who died, one of them could have been my uncle.
It was 9:30pm when the lights in the area went out. It was pitch dark outside and all we could hear was news channels reporting the twin bomb blasts. The first bomb was in a rickshaw and the other was planted in a bike. People were frightened and thought, what if someone is still out there and tried to take advantage of the dark?
Many decided to take refuge on the streets. They left their houses and gathered around in groups on the street. This is when two cars – which looked like police mobiles, but were actually MQM personnel - came to our area, dropped several men and left.
These men had long bamboo sticks in their hands and a few tents. Within minutes, they started to tie tents and block the entrance of each lane with bamboo sticks. Then came the guards who asked us to calm down and told us that everything was fine now. They comforted the old and told them it was nothing but a loud cracker and that from now on, they will be more vigilant than ever.
Everyone went back home. As for the guards, they patrolled the area and no one was allowed to stroll outside. Had it been any other day, people would have been cursing the MQM for holding everyone at house-arrest and keeping such a strict security check, but not on Saturday.
We were just grateful.
I took a glance outside at around 2:00am and there was a mobile patrolling and guards were seen clinging on to their riffles and guns on both ends of each lane.
I felt safe; I really did.
When I woke up in the morning, I found the patrolling cars still on rounds and noticed that the guards were still out there. It was then when I realised I have spent a good part of my life debating against MQM’s policies and its leadership and I might continue to do so, but these men who were on guard for our protection the entire night couldn’t just be a political stunt. ‘What is in it for them’, I questioned myself.
MQM’s top management may not be your or my favourite, yet these people who were out there all night protected us out of absolutely no personal gain. This selfless devotion for the life of people was heart warming. I am not an MQM supporter, but its workers have nothing but good of people at heart. I was touched to see such selfless display of love for the community – the likes of which I have never seen before on behalf of any political party.
It’s important to mention that from Block 8 to Block 2, Azizabad is a culturally affluent area. From Imambargahs to a mosques for Ahmadis, from Muhajirs to Pathans, from Sunnis to Shias, everyone and every place was being protected regardless of any distinction on the basis of class, ethnicity or religion.
I have no idea of who was behind these blasts and what their motive was, but one thing is for sure, the people of Karachi will not stop supporting each other. I was terrified after the blast, but the security provided to us after it by the Muhafiz has restored my faith in humanity and has given me and many more all the more reason to love this city and its spirit of constantly giving unconditionally.
PHOTOS: TOOBA HATIF FAROOQI
Follow Tooba on Twitter @AamAwam