Escaping Chaos – A Bride’s Account
I’m wondering how many weddings got postponed yesterday. The thought is natural since my own wedding was. I was almost done getting dolled up at a place near Khadda Market when news of BB’s assassination was seen on television. A few minutes after that calls started coming in reporting of rioting at Gizri, the shutters were pulled down almost immediately as Labels next to Cafe Coffee Day was smashed up.
Around this time, my car came to pick me up and was waiting outside when the rioters reached our lane and people started shouting that they were shooting with silencer fitted guns. Everyone waiting for the people inside the salon were quickly taken in and people were told that they could stay for as long as they wanted till they considered it safe to venture out. Most chose to risk it.
We waited till the lane was quiet again and the servants and guards of neighboring houses ventured out to take a look around. By this time we were waiting just inside the side door after deciding to head out to our nearest relatives place. Once we were told it was clear for the moment we got into cars and drove through the back lanes to defense phase 6 with our headlights off as a precaution, keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble. Worry and tension was thrice what we would probably have felt otherwise because I was all dressed up in my wedding dress and being wrapped up in a shawl isn’t exactly protection. Luckily we were accompanied by another car so that was some reassurance though on hindsight I don’t know how that would have helped had we gotten into trouble.
Along the way, we saw several cars on the roads with broken windshields and countless dent marks of stoning. Made it safely to the relatives place at around 8 where we started a frantic phone trace for every family member out. After countless tries, we got through to my father who told us that he had just turned back from PAF chapter as they were burning cars and buses up ahead and the police was forcing everyone to turn back which caused a jam. Eventually he made his way back to us.
Once together, tracing of other members of the family who had not been contacted as yet resumed including my mum who had gotten stuck at Tariq Road. The decision to postpone the wedding was taken soon as it became clear that they had somehow reached some relatives place in Gulshan after turning around or backing out from a few rioting hot beds.
We decided to wait till 4:30 – 5:00 before trying to head home since we had to head to Gulistan e Johar and reports out of there were not good. Got a few hours worth of sleep and then headed out at 5:00 taking Khayaban e Ittehad, crossing the Baloch colony bridge, Sharah e Faisal, turning at COD towards Johar mor and Johar chorangi, never slowing down below 80. Karachi looked like a ghost town complete with dysfunctional blinking signals and lights only at strategic junctions while every where else was pitch black. This was especially noticable at Johar mor and Johar chorangi where people were slowly venturing out on foot and waiting for some kind of transportation. There were families with toddlers waiting by the roadside at 5:30!
Along the way we saw broken glass and bricks and stones almost everywhere but the burning cars and buses that my father had seen just hours before had been cleared out. My mother who made it home at around 2:30 said she counted almost 50 burnt/burning cars and still saw hints of trouble along the way but by this time whatever cars were still out were keeping close to each other as far along as they shared similar routes and some even chose to wait a few minutes in hopes of another car coming along before venturing into a particularly dark road.
While all of my family made it safely home, we have heard of countless people that are still stuck in various places, wherever they found refuge and have yet to find their way home.
Karachi roared with deafening silence once the fires had died down in the early hours of morning. May we all stay safe.