They came with one roti in their pocket and a head full of memories
By Razzak Abro
Zaibul Faqiryani is camped outside the Karachi airport to receive Benazir with a single roti that she brought along in the right pocket of her qameez. “Yes, I have brought my own food,” she says confidently, when asked whether she has enough food and water. This Naushehroferoze resident, who also describes herself as a ‘Faqiryani’ (follower) of Dargah Fazal Shah, is here to see Benazir, again, after welcoming her in 1986.
Hundreds of women between the ages of 20 to 90 years arrived to receive the ‘Daughter of East’ at the airport Thursday. They were from Malir and Lyari, PPP strongholds in Karachi. A majority of them had been there since early morning. Some of them had brought water and food and others had biscuits and potato chips. They were all poor.
Some of them were worried that 90-year-old Hawa from Adam Hingoro village, Khokrapar, Malir, would be able to stand the heat and crowd. But she said that Benazir was like her own daughter. “Once at the house of Lohar Wadho and Usman Budha, I met Benazir when she came there to offer fateha,” Hawa recalls. “And, we the women of Malir brought mehndi (henna) for Benazir when she was going to get married in Lyaris’ Kakri Ground.”
An impatient Zarina of Nasir Shaheed village, Malir, has been repeatedly asking when Benazir will show up. “We danced and sang whole the night,” she says.
Rasheeda Baloch, another PPP worker from Malir, was among those 40 women who were detained in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Punjab while they had gone to Lahore to welcome Benazir’s spouse, Asif Ali Zardari. “I also went to central prison, Karachi for five days during Nawaz Sharif’s first government,” she proudly proclaims. “We had defied section 144 and organized a rally on labor day.”
Mahrun Nisa of Haji Dilbod Goth, Malir has been affiliated with the PPP for 27 years. “I heard the speech Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave in Gabol Park, Lyari,” she recalls. She was among those women who had also witnessed Benazir Bhutto’s welcome in Karachi in 1986. This time, however, it has been different as she has not been able to get closer. “I was one of the people who brought Benazir in 1986 from the airport to her residence, 70 Clifton, by foot.”
Twenty-year-old Sanam from Dawood Goth was only seven when she welcomed Benazir in 1986. “I had come along with my grandmother and mother, and now I have again come after 17 years, but this time my grandmother is not alive.”
The elderly Noorjahan from Qasba Colony starts weeping when asked about her family. “Terrorists have left no one behind,” she says. “My three sons were killed and recently they assassinated my grandson. But I get a hold on my tragedy when I recall the tragedies faced by the Bhutto family.”
Friday, October 19, 2007