MUCH before Fahim Ashraf hit Wahab Riaz for the victory shot or even much before the coin was tossed high into the warm air to determine which side will bat first in the final of the third edition of Pakistan Super League, Karachi had won.
Days before the memorable game, Karachi had freed itself from the shackles of fear, hopelessness and uncertainty as it braced itself for the big event in a festive mood. The youth swarmed shops to buy caps and T-shirts depicting the colour of their favourite teams.
Also read: Karachi and cricket win, fear loses out
A student, a professional, a businessperson, and a commoner, all put aside their identities as well as their likes and dislikes when they queued up at the gates of the National Stadium to enter their stands to become part of the historic day. Yes, girls and boys, children and the old, all formed one body to display in no uncertain terms as to what is the way they want to live in the megapolis in particular, and the country in general.
Violence and hatred based on ethnicity, sect and class that political masters of hues worked so hard for decades to foster and patronise lay downed, defeated, hopefully for good.
Two rides back home from my late-night work merit a mention.
One happened years ago when ghosts ruled the city and a strike call for next morning was in place. We had left the office after putting in the next morning’s edition reports of armed attacks by unidentified men in which a number of people had lost their lives and others were injured and several vehicles were torched.
As the staff van moved ahead on its route zigzagging various localities in order to drop colleagues, we came across patches of fires lit by arsonists hours ago, but which were still smouldering, apparently to ensure there should be few vehicles to schools and workplaces in the coming morning.
Not only for those bonfires but also for fear of a sniper attack the driver had to go in slower-than-normal speed.
Those terror-filled moments occurred repeatedly for years.
By contrast, the ride on Saturday night presented an altogether different picture of Karachi. Throughout the drive, the matchless Sharea Faisal made us think it’s not past 2am because lights never went out of sight during the journey.
That was not all. At grassy places alongside the thoroughfare player cutouts stood bathed in dancing colourful beams with fans taking turns to make selfies with them.
Large portraits and pole-mounted neon-signs showing the cricketers as well as Sindh’s cultural highlights greeted, as did bike-riding lads with Pakistan Zaindabad slogan and victory signs.
At the Stadium Road flyover families stopped to have a look at the giant searchlight towers of the stadium that virtually turned night into day, allowing visitors to savour a relaxing atmosphere.
Young people were seen rocking to the tune of popular national songs. In one such group, in a unique way of celebration a seven- or eight-year-old boy was being tossed into the air by one young man amid applause and rolls of laughter by friends.
The area, with hours to go before the match, was throbbing with life as car music systems were played in high volume with citizens enjoying every bit of it.
Thanks to the PSL organisers and full marks to Karachiites who, despite being a sufferer for long at the hands of self-serving politicians, pushed aside their pain and problem and tore apart the thick layer of fear to rise and shout ‘yes this is my City of Lights’.
The writer is a member of staff
Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2018