Single in the City – Saints and Sinners


Sometimes, my life feels like that of a double agent’s; two endless parallel lines come to mind. The worlds I exist in are polar opposites; the personalities, their choices of entertainment, their priorities and their morals fall on extreme ends of a spectrum. And the people in each fascinated, and at the same time, repulsed by the other.

The city of Karachi is a paradox; it is a sinner’s paradise, if the sinner knows where to look.

For the saint, it is a constant battlefield. And I float between the two worlds with such ease that if I looked at myself from either side, I might not recognize the person I saw.

In fact, most of the Karachiites I know live double lives. Our life is a constant struggle of trying to be better people, trying to live up to the morals our parents and the society constantly harbor over our heads; but finding it easier to exist on the other side. As “corrupt” as that side seems, as superficial and as devoid of real friendships and relationships, it has its one advantage; there is no pedestal to fall from.




There is a room in a mansion in the heart of Defence; its most frequent visitors call it “The Machiavellian Chambers.”

The moment you enter the room, you can feel the heaviness in the air of the various secrets the room keeps; the rendezvous of forbidden lovers, the inception of many a false rumor that tarnished so many innocent reputations, the tainted advice that helped forge terrible decisions . Everyone is everyone else’s best friend and therefore, no one’s friend at all. And yet, something to still bind all the people in that place. Maybe it is the acceptance of each other’s failings, maybe the absolute lack of any expectations from anyone; people are just allowed to be; something everyone is desperately searching for.

The nights begin young in this place. The clinking of ice in the glasses of whiskey and the clicking of lighters as people smoke one cigarette after another is more familiar to me sometimes than the sounds of my own home. There is the barking of dogs in the distance and it comforts me. There is smoke everywhere and that, mixed with the murkiness caused by the alcohol, blurs my vision and I love it. I close my eyes and listen to the conversations.

Queen B sits next to me on the brown sofa and I can hear her scratching impatiently at the hole by the cigarette burn made last week by Big Brother. Becky, named after Becky Sharp, the famous social climbing heroine from Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. What she lacked in beauty and charm, she made up for with deceit.

“What’s wrong darling? You seem upset.” Becky asked in her perfected concerned tone, shrouding her curiosity.

Queen B didn’t exactly want to tell Becky, but as no one else seemed to show much interest, she was left without a choice. After all, she must have some attention.

“I broke up with Bats” Queen B broke the news. That got everyone’s attention.

“No! What happened? Did you guys have a fight?”

“Did he cheat on you? I always thought he had a thing with that Geigi.”

“No! None of that! He was really nice to me. Treated me like a queen.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“He has this problem. I thought, in the beginning, that I could deal with it. I thought I could help him get better with time. But it just won’t improve. He just doesn’t want to work on it. And it has become a social embarrassment!”

“WHAT? WHAT IS IT?” Becky could no longer hide her curiosity. She looked like she would burst into flames, sucked hard on her death stick to keep herself from exploding.

“He has terrible grammar,” replied QB, breaking down.

There was a shocked silence in the room. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Did she just tell the whole room she broke up with a perfectly decent guy because he didn’t have his “whose” and “who’s” figured out?

No one said a word.

“Do you think I did the right thing?” QB looked around for reassurance.

And her friends, all desperate to please her, nodded their approval.

She was the Queen B, after all. 



2 Responses to “Single in the City – Saints and Sinners”
  1. Saqib Murtaza says:

    Beautiful. The room is so beautiful. Silent but filled with selected sounds and their volume at desired level. Yet profound and equally sensative. Great work

  2. Sami says:

    I can relate to this….

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