Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gotham City Realized


The reason that compelled me to take up my laptop and start writing is what sounds like an unending stream of gun shots outside my streets with people shouting, cursing, abusing and then firing back. Just another day in the city that is always trigger- happy.

This is perhaps the coldest night of winter this year. And this is a Saturday. Saturday or any other weekend - day means a time to replenish  your burnt out batteries that are spent working and /or studying if you are in any part of the world except Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular.

Of course for the vast ‘minority’ of well meaning people who work hard throughout the week do consider as their lawful right that they get enough time to settle down, relax at home or enjoy an evening out with their families and friends. But things that stop them from doing so in an unhindered manner here in Karachi roam about without any apprehension of a backlash from the law and order authorities. This is a Gotham City without her Batman.

If we draw a comparison of Karachi and fictional town of Gotham, we do see certain similarities that would make one believe that film takes its inspiration from reality. Gotham has a political and industrial base that keeps it from staying calm and peaceful, so does Karachi. Corruption is rampant in the city that plays a key role in Batman’s comic, Karachi too it seems has corruption embedded in its culture. The living conditions of both the cities, one fictional and other I wish was fictional in part are downtrodden for majority of its populace.  

But the comparisons end here for stories always have a hero, realities do not. Karachi has been a violent city for most of the last 20/30 years and to say that a particular regime or a government has a role to play in the mess that we see all around the city is either a case of naivety or wilful amnesia.

The state in which Karachi survives is because this is the way people who run the city actually want it to be. Extortion will remain a major exercise in collection of money for the not-so-petty criminals who hand over their bounty to their masters sitting in places unknown.  The goons that conduct such acts are youth of the city that age in their late teens and early twenties, you will find a mass that is diverted, disillusioned and involved in activities that it should not be.  Daily we witness immature kids claiming to be ‘party-workers’ wreak havoc in the peace of people living in their vicinity.

I said a vast ‘minority’ believes in peaceful existence of life in Karachi as the people who openly condemn and resist to adoption of violent, corrupt and inhuman ways of living number to very few.  A good majority of the city is semi or uneducated, with low paying jobs or none at all; expecting them to pay heed to all things moral and virtuous is tantamount to asking for a free lunch.

To their credit, mafias and political parties (shouldn’t they be used interchangeably?) do keep their employees happy with hefty pay -bills and toys (read guns) to play with. These are organizations that sincerely believe in training their employees with latest soft and technical skill programs and rewarding them for outstanding performances. What youth would disengage itself from an employer that fulfils most of its monetary needs when conventional companies can’t even measure up to the pay scales offered by their unconventional counterparts?

Our city will go down a path and reach a place where it will cease to exist as a cohesive working unit unless we start having ‘good’ people working in the government, ruling the government rather.  It is our misfortune, perhaps our own doing that we have always had established criminals in the guise of rulers;  a phenomenon that is present in all the backward societies in the world, a case that is reflected in all places where education is not given it’s due place on the societal pedestal.

Unless we kill the demons that exist within us and start believing that by making education accessible to all and sundry in the society we are not going to lose our precious money-minting institutions, this city will not change, neither will this country.  Educating the youth of today that at present, stands vulnerable in the streets with nothing worthwhile to occupy their brains will ensure that in the decades ahead they will cut a collective figure of a responsible citizenry.

We have to stand up and start working on things we feel will correct the wrongs we keep committing every single day. We have to, because we don’t have a hero that we deserve, or the one we need as Gotham City did.