Words. They're good for description, for describing a character. A character like me. I am male and slightly shorter than average. The eyes behind my glasses, which have rectangular lenses, are brown. Although my ears are finally proportional to my head - which had a lot of catching up to do in terms of growth not too long ago - they still earn me the occasional snide comment or two. I guess they're just different, despite the fact that I cannot exactly say how. I like my teeth. It would be sad to be dissatisfied with your teeth after having them caged in metal braces for almost two years. I dislike my voice. At least it doesn't normally sound as bad as it sounds over the phone. And through a microphone. And in video recordings.

Words. You can paint pretty pictures of people with them but that is all you end up with - an image, two dimensional and lifeless. Words cannot define people. The fingers of our experiences and the actions we consequently take shape the wet clay that we are. They mold us as they brush over us, leaving the eternal proof of their passage behind for all to see, etched in our character.

I am defined by the sound of a camera shutter as it opens and closes and by the time that stretches between the two clicks, time that is both not more than a heartbeat and longer than several deep breaths. I am defined by the reassuring feeling of the pen in my hand and by the ecstasy it brings when cruising along a sheet of paper. I am defined by overcast days when the trees look greener against the granite grey sky and when a single breeze can be both warm and cool at the same time. I am defined by the smell of rain, of freshly brewed coffee, and of bookshops, pine trees and toast. I am defined by crisp winter mornings with dust motes dancing in the sunlight. I am defined by chocolate and ice cream, how they melt in my mouth, and by cheesecake - only during the time between when I cut myself another slice and when I scold myself for eating it. I am defined by the happiness that comes from getting the amounts of ginger, soy sauce and wasabi just right while eating sushi. I am defined by the manic passion that grips me when I find an interesting book, by how it causes me to cease existing in this realm for a time as it pushes me to read on and by how it suddenly gets replaced by overwhelming emptiness as soon as I turn the last page.
An undulating mass of people, vehicles and bloated shopping bags throngs the street, every square inch of it. We're all looking outside the windows of our car, our eyes sweeping for a potential parking spot. No luck. There's no space at all.

"We shouldn't have come this early."

I check the digital display of the clock on the dashboard. It's 1:30 AM.

My parents stare wide-eyed at all the activity going on around us. I hear someone mutter the word deewanapan. I sigh inwardly. After living in Karachi for so long, I wonder how anyone could still be amazed by this. This is Karachi. The city that never sleeps.

We find a place to park in some random gali and then proceed to pick our way through the muddy, post-rain streets as we walk towards the restaurant (read: dhaaba). It's a shabby place. Only men lounge about on the ground floor. There's also some tables upstairs, 'for families only.' We make our way up a flight of marble steps. The din of people and cutlery meets my ears. There's no space to breathe. It's 2 AM now. A family of about seven suddenly gets up from their table, done with their food. We rush to grab their seats.

The table isn't exactly a pleasant sight. It's littered with used napkins, spilled water, bits of bread and the occasional squeezed lemon. A waiter appears and hurriedly sweeps the stuff aside with a dirty wet rag. We take our seats, careful not to rest our elbows on the table and order our food. Another waiter brings out a silver pitcher full of water and some glasses. We look at each other and order mineral water; small bottles so nobody has to use the glasses. The food arrives almost instantly. The steaming hot nihari and the crispy naan fresh out of the tandoor are delicious. Of course it's not easy eating while making sure nothing touches the table.

I look about the room. Most people sit comfortably cross-legged, with their slippers on the floor and their plates in their laps. I feel out of place with my bright green Converse shoes and my thoughts forming in English.
It's funny, in that utterly un-amusing way, how life suddenly steps in and forces you to change your perspective. It's funny how one minute you're bitching to yourself about how tough life has become, about how hectic your A2 year is, about how college applications, SATs, the tons of homework you get, and the many extra curricular activities you've somehow wound up with are slowly tearing away at your essence and then the next minute you realize how trivial and petty your grievances are and how you cannot even begin to imagine what some people might be going through that day.

It's also funny how no one is laughing.
Copyright © Quill Emissions