Whenever I think of Karachi, the poem “Home“ by Edward Thomas comes to my mind. In his poem, he briefly talks about the comfort a home brings. A home always keeps its arms wide to give warm hugs to those who keep arriving, no matter their state. A home welcomes, nourishes, and protects all residents. Karachi is THAT home to millions of people who come here in search of jobs, who arrive here with big dreams and hoping for a better tomorrow, and it is safe to say Karachi never disappoints.
However, if I have to define this city metaphorically, it would be “A selfless but an abandoned heart”. This city gives and gives and gives without any expectations of getting anything in return. This city bleeds, and it is torn apart bone by bone. Yet it stands tall and offers warmth to everyone.
Lately, Karachi has been associated with terrorism and filth. When we speak of Karachi, we often talk about the obstacles people go through daily. Still, this week, I discovered a side to this city through the Tehqeeq IVS Exhibition at Full Circle, where artists went the extra mile to tell stories about an abandoned town yet home to many surrendered hearts. Tehqeeq was a group show curated by Eefa Khalid, who refers to Tehqeeq as a “passion project“. Upon asking, she gave insights into how she created “Tehqeeq.“ She designed this assignment following student psychology by involving marks, where she asked students at Indus Valley School of Arts to explore the city they‘re living in. We have been living in this city for ages, but not a lot of people know the history and heritage this city holds, so she gave her students an outlet to find a way to expand the horizons of their creativity.
Contributing artists had spellbinding stories to tell about the photographs they took. A photographer named Zoha Shahzad captured the essence of Meena Bazaar, located in Karimabad, Karachi, which is also one of the main women-led markets in Karachi. Her art spoke volumes about how women crave for safe spaces to run their businesses and communicate with each other without the burden of men’s involvement. Meena Bazaar holds thousands of stories of women who have struggled to protect their identities yet stand tall. Her photographs moved the hearts of the eyes looking at them.
Syeda Abqurah Shaukat’s “Muntazir” was one of its kind. The picture was taken at a train station where stories are born. She aimed to show the diversity of Karachi through her art, and it is safe to say that she was successful in doing so. Her pictures spoke a million words about the abandonment of the city that has been through so much only for the sake of the country’s survival.
Hamza Hashmi was excited about the pictures he took. He built a whole story connecting his concepts but what captivated me was a picture he took inside Quaid’s residence. The image was of a door connected to some other place in the house through a corridor. His take on the picture was related to the “first step.” He found a good story behind this picture by opening the door, which was his first step. So, Karachi has a lot of unopened doors that hide stories behind them, waiting to be opened and heard.
An artist who took a different path and decided to explore the stories inside the houses of Karachi was Zareen Hyder. She decided to explore the secrets of Applique in her maid’s house. She took enchanting photos of the work done by these women, who are exceptional artists and carry a passion for art everywhere they go. Other contributing artists who spoke through their art were Ayesha Jahangeer, Adeena Mushtaq, Aleezah Muzaffar, Eesha Naweed, Fatima Siddiqui, Haniya Zubair, Zain Abbas, Zohaib Fasih, Misrah Nizami, Sana Mohsin, Zain Ali Qazi, Zainab Hanif, and Zakariya Nadeem. Their pictures were thought-provoking and correctly interpreted the essence of Karachi.
Every day, most of us pass through the streets of this city, and I am positive we don’t think much about the stories this city has to tell. This city has witnessed the rise and fall of some of the most extraordinary people in history; the buildings have so much to say, to tell, waiting for us to hear. Unfortunately, as Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi wrote, “Ye sheher hamesha tarsa hai, ye sheher hamesha tarsega,” this city is like a poet’s heart, always full of words but abandoned.
Karachi is much more than just biryani and pollution. The past and present come closer to making this city great with so much more to offer than we see. It takes more than just eyes to look and explore this city since it is not just a city but a home.
A home that welcomes everyone without any discrimination.