Again, this evening, restless from home confinement and curious about what’s happening in the city, my mother, Minal and I wander out for a walk down to the main road. Today, there is more traffic, but still, the street action doesn’t even vaguely resemble what usually happens on a Saturday night. There are still no buses and trucks. But today, people are out on motorbikes, bicycles and in cars, restless just as we are. Some Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) posters on an apartment building wall announce 18 October, 2007, Benazir’s return rally in Karachi when there was a failed attempt on her life.
We end up walking all the way to the main intersection to Delawala Center. There, the parking lot has remnants of glass from shattered car windows. A small crowd is gathered outside Askari Bank (owned by the military) that has been burned down. Nex[Image]t to the bank, several shoe shores, Bata and Hush Puppies, as well as other stores have been burned, and faded cloth drapes flap around what were once glassy windows displaying expensive shoes and clothes.
The armed guard who wears a large AK-47 strapped across his back, tells us: “They threw a bomb and everything burned. No one was killed. Even the people in the apartments above were able to get out.
On Monday, we will assess damage.” “Who was it?” we ask. “PPP? MQM?” He shrugs. “The suspicion is PPP, of course.” Across the street, a car dealership has been burned, and in the dusky evening light, it’s hard to know what is smoke and what is shadow. As we return to our house, we have to step out of the way as a Toyota zooms up fast onto the sidewalk and is parked against the fenced park. A father and son leap out of the car, and jump the fence toward the swings.
Minal has a pretend pink Barbie camera and she points, shoots and clicks at the burned car, still there from Thursday night, the pileup of trash and then, she abandons the photo project and instead, chases after her own shadow down our lane where there is no traffic. And for once, as we walk down the street, I don’t have to hold her hand, carry her or warn her that a car’s coming and get to the side.
My cousin wanted to drive to Larkana tomorrow to attend the soyem ceremonies, but when he went to purchase diesel for his jeep, he learned that the supply of diesel has been closed off and that petrol is being dispensed in small amounts. And the lines at the stations are two hours long. In our little home, we are fine. We have food and water, and no one plans to drive anywhere until after Monday when things might normalize a little. But the suspense about elections, and about what will happen next remains—and the television remains on.