I see Karachi through a car window all the time. I wish I could walk out of my house anytime I like and go as far as I want, but the farthest I have walked around here is down the street to buy milk or cat food and even that feels heady and exciting just because I am on my own two legs. I love walking. I would deliberately miss the bus to the supermarket in college so I had an excuse to walk there and back, especially when it was snowing. In Karachi, girls like me walk around on walking tracks. That drives me crazy. Walking around an ugly track, with exactly one square kilometer of grass in the middle, which you are not allowed to step on. Round and round like a hamster on a wheel, just to get the kind of exercise human beings are meant to get just living their ordinary lives.
When you walk, you're forced to pay attention to the world and you see things that car windows don't allow at 80mph. The other day I was walking back to the car down a congested road and an old woman tugged at my kameez. She was squatting on the floor, begging from a dark corner behind a paan shop, in front of a staircase that looked like it might collapse. One of the men there turned to her and told her to go away, but not harshly. She laughed and waved him away and I thought what crazy eyes and I wanted to stop right there and ask her about the city and that staircase and if she has children and how she pays for her paan, but of course I didn't. I smiled though, because she startled me and she almost looked like she wouldn't mind having a conversation right there, but she and I were worlds apart already and I got into the car and shut myself off again.
We don't really see each other, do we? I write this blog without my real name on it because I want to walk around this city and stare at you and ask about your life, but invisibly. Invisibly I watch you and quietly I scream and I scream and I scream because I want to be heard and not seen. Recently, people have started telling me they like my blog, which makes me realise my initials are not a very good pseudonym and it terrifies me a bit, because they have all seen me naked and shouting and no longer faceless. My two month hiatus from writing wasn't because I was walking around and learning about you, but because I wasn't. I was afraid to do it all knowing people know who I am, but here I am stepping out of my car and saying hello, I'll still write. My name is Sarah Elahi, I wasn't very good at annonymity and here I am for real.