It was around last week that my wife and I intended to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and also the end of my daughter’s school exams. I had taken a day off from office.
It was a perfect evening and my daughter was euphoric with excitement, as my wife and I sort of got ready to go out for a not-so-elaborate celebration of the above events. The plan, made one week in advance, was to dine out and then fit into a late-night movie show at the only 3-D cinema of the metropolis.
There was a scene of usual hustle and bustle in the area when we parked in front of a restaurant in Gulshan-e-Iqbal at 10 PM. But, just when we walked to the entrance of the restaurant, two three ruffians who seemed to have appeared out of a thin air made their way to the counter and shouted ‘chal band kar’ (shut the restaurant at once). The restaurant crew jumped to action and started wrapping up, refusing to serve us food.
Outside, some of the shop keepers had already pulled the shutters while others could be seen hastily switching out lights, as panicked consumers either tried to grab the things on their purchase list or briskly walked to their parked vehicles or to other destinations at walking distance. Within minutes the Rashid Minhas road started to give a deserted look. The place would have been completely blacked out, had a few street lights were not still on. It seemed as if a siren of war had just been blared.
Fearing for my family’s security, I told them to forget about everything and get back into the car before something untoward unfolds. Shocked, my daughter all in her innocence asked from the backseat ‘Baba what happened, where are we going?’ I turned and caught a gloom filled look in her puzzled eyes, but I stayed quiet since the answer would not only have broken the news but her heart too.
It looked just like an ominous beginning of another wave of bloody violence in the city. So, I pushed the throttle as hard as I safely could to get my family back to the safety of home at the earliest.
Upon returning home, I immediately turned on the TV to get the picture of what had been going on in Karachi streets. I caught a glimpse of a ticker which said it was going to be a ‘Black Day’ in Karachi against extortion on Saturday.
Our plan of a little celebration was shattered to pieces by the so-called Black Day, as I could not buy even a bar of chocolate for my daughter who had been so excited after exams to go out and grab a bite before catching an animated flick with mama and Baba.
Mazhar tweets: @mazharbughio