Learn to keep your mouth shut!
Karachi’s weather is ever so unpredictable. To take an example, I took mom out for grocery shopping in the vicinity in the afternoon. Although the house had been somewhat cool, I had absolutely no clue how unbearably hot it was outside. The sky was clean, without so much as a speck of cloud, there was not a whiff of wind blowing, and the scorching sun was beating down its hammer upon anyone or anything that dared to step outside. No sooner had I stepped on the axel than I started sweating. You can imagine the rest. What is so unpredictable about the weather is that, for example, when I again took mom out for a ride in the evening, I felt a chill down my spine as I jumped into the driver’s seat. It was cold. A breeze was blowing. I had had no idea it would get that cold.
Meteorologists recorded a record-breaking winter temperature for Karachi during these winters. The mercury sure as hell did not fall as low as it does in Moscow in winters — heck, it did not even fall below the zero mark, but, for Karachities, it was colder than they had ever experienced. One of my best friends was visiting Karachi earlier this year. We both went out to a pizza parlour, and had a heck of a fun time together. On our way back, he said, “In Topi in winters, it often gets minus one degrees Celsius, and even though it is that cold, if you regularly go out to have a cone of ice-cream, you can be sure to enjoy it without getting sick. But, Karachi’s winters, despite being any severe, almost tend to leave a person sick. That is why Karachi’s winters are dangerous.” I couldn’t agree more.
These days the afternoons seem to suggest summer is waiting right outside the door. However, the evenings and the nights appear to paint an altogether different picture, whispering to people that they should keep their warm clothes around. It is this fluctuating weather that plays host to diseases of various kinds, but, in a way, it also makes Karachi unique. Or does it?
Yesterday, the government of Sindh strictly ordered all public- and private-sector schools, colleges, and universities — all educational institutes, in fact — in Karachi to remain closed on Thursday in response to plans of carrying out protests, against a recent debacle in which a publishing house within Denmark published offending cartoons depicting religious symbols, all over the city on both Thursday and Friday. All scheduled examinations got postponed, and almost all public and private sectored educational institutes refused to open. Except ours! The reason: NU-FAST does not come under the jurisdiction — is this even the right word? — of the Sindh government, but rather the Federal one, and that to that end, the University will remain open on the condition that the University busses decide to ply along their routes. And, the University busses did come, and the University did remain open. However, open it did.
Early morning, as I was packing my knapsack and tying the knots on my boots, mom kept insisting that I not go. Dad had already said that there was no need to go. It was not like I wanted like hell to go. It was just that I was desperate — in fact, all of my classmates were — as one of our instructors had handed us an assignment which, he said, had to be submitted in on Thursday at ALL costs. And if you are any familiar with that instructor, then you would know that that does indeed mean at ALL costs. The assignment, per se, was, I believe, the only reason why most of my classmates were up late night, and also why they decided to come to University today.
Back at the University, it was a different scene. Most students made it to the campus, either via University busses or, those who missed their rides, via local busses. The people, however, who bunked university were most instructors, professors, and lecturers. Imagine that: there was once a time when students would not show up but teachers would, and now, it is completely the other way round. This leaves one question to be asked: What in the heck is the world coming to? What is worse is that the very bloody instructor, to whom we had come to submit our assignments, did not come.
Even though the University was open, it was hardly any different from closed ones. No classes were being conducted. Students were loitering around, sitting in the Cafe, chatting, reading books, and doing whatever else they usually do when they are not taking lectures. The gates of the University were closed shut on strict ordersof the University admin, and no student was allowed to leave the premises. It became public knowledge that the University would go off at noon, and the University busses will leave then. However, at about noon, when everyone gathered at the ground where all the busses where parked, everyone was told that only four busses would leave the campus. There were students in the University one could not fit in ten busses, however one tried, and only four busses were leaving! Shocking! Lucikly, after a while, the drivers agreed — duh! — to drive all the busses, and within the next fifteen minutes, everyone was safely riding in their respective busses headed home.
Imagine your first day of the new semester at the University starting off with a bumpy, half-an-hour ride to the University, where you find yourself hanging off the back door of the bus because of it being overly crowded. As exhilarating a prospect as one might imagine, no? Hell no! It is extremely unpleasant and tiring. I can say so because that is exactly what I had to go through this morning.
The first lecture being at quarter to noon, I had no better ideas on how to pass the time than to head to the air-conditioned computer laboratory. I surfed a few websites, laughed my head off reading an article describing hilarious top ten hoaxes of the previous year, engaged in a humorous IM conversation with a friend, and, well, surfed some websites. From half past eleven to quarter to noon, I sat on top of the boundary wall lining one side of the corridor that leads to the men’s rest room. A cool breeze was blowing.
Entering home at around about quarter to three, I changed, washed, and had lunch. I remembered my room had been getting awfully dirty of late, what with a thick layer of dirt resting on all surfaces in the room. I got hold of my handy dusting cloth, which, in actuality, is just like any other simple cloth, and wiped cleaned the dirt off of room. It looks clean and shiny now.
In the evening, I was forcefully woken up by my maternal aunt, who had expressed a wish to visit a shopping mall in the vicinty in the evening. Despite having a cracking headache, I took her and mom there, and, bought myself Call’s ‘Jilawatan’ album.
The rest of the evening and night passed unnoticed being online and contending to household chores.
The past fifteen days were both tough and painful. I had been down with a severe case of ‘measles’ and an utterly painful eye infection, which kept me away from many things throughout the fifteen days. It appears that I might have caught the infection from a friend, who himself subsequently suffered from a mild case of measles, during a short spell of concerted study we had had together for the semester exams. But, whatever the source of the virus may be, it was painful. Real painful.
I spent the whole fifteen days lying restlessly on one side of the bed, either shivering with cold in fever, or flipping my head sideways as I tried to bear the cracking headache grasping my head and eyes. What was worse was that slumber evaded me at all instances, and I had to resort to taking heavy-dosage sleeping pills each night only to fall asleep in order to have some form of relief from the jumble of pains attacking my body from all angles. Eyes were blood red, and hurt like hell if I tried to move them, albeit a bit. Rash had taken charge almost all over the body, with my face glowing red like plants glow after they have been exposed to a long, constant spell of nuclear radiation. As soon as the rash had reached the feet, the fever, at least, dissipated. The eyes remained hurtful and blood red. Within a few days, the rash began to die off, leaving scraps of dead skin hanging from spots where the rash had once taken root. The eye drops I had been prescribed to use four times a day to kill the eye infection bit in the eye like nothing I had ever experienced. The first time my mom administered the drops, I jerked in pain and screamed. From the time the drops were administered till the next ten minutes at most, the eye would hurt as if a nail had been impaled in it. And imagine having to use those drops four times a day for a week straight. Damn, it was painful.
I have recovered nearly one-hundred percent now. However, as is an after-affect of measles, the immune system of the body becomes delicately weak, and stays so for about a month. So, I have to take extra care of myself the following month, as the danger of catching various viruses and falling ill is high. Ah, poor me!
The window of my room opens into a small porch, which lies right next to a small, greenish garden, and one side of the boundary wall, with metal fences on top that are themselves adorned with vines and various other plants, courtesy my mom’s love for gardening. Today, as I stood behind my window and took a glance, I caught sight of what I consider to be the cutest scene I have seen in a while. On top of the wall, two cats, one all grey with black spots all over, the other stark white, were lying side-by-side to each other, their heads on top of each others’, as if they had been rubbing their heads before they dosed off. Unperturbed by the hustle and bustle of the world around them, they were blissfully sleeping, as if, to them, nothing existed save each other. I don’t know about you, but I find that both cute and romantic. blush>