Karachi’s Love Across Borders

May 1, 2024
Karachi's Love Across Borders

Our fingers interlace, and our feet dig into the velvet sand as we walk down the beach, leaving footprints of our past lives behind us, welcoming our new life and waiting for the dawn. Our meandering pasts have now aligned, and I am finally in his arms. This man next to me is my very prosaic prayer, handwritten to God. I gaze into his eyes, trying to remember every mole, every line etched on his face, the chocolate brown of his eyes, the smell of his Polo Blue cologne, the feeling of his stubble against my skin. He kisses my forehead as I close my eyes to capture this moment, to embed it deep in my mind, but why is my xylophone alarm ringing right now?


I open my eyes to Lakshmi, my Hindu maid, muttering in Gujarati. She’s in my room and has drawn back the curtains. I instantly shut the alarm and sit upright in my bed and smack my forehead to remind myself that it is a one-sided, long-distance relationship in my head with this man. Who was he? I can’t remember his face, but it was so vivid in my dream.

Lakshmi prays for me with a heavy heart, “May Allah open up your naseeb (fate).” I ignore her as I scroll through my phone and see Google Mail failed delivery notifications. Was that a cryptic message from God that he couldn’t interpret my poetry and prose? I have begun to despise the sympathetic looks on the faces of Pakistani women, wondering why I look so happy being single.


I couldn’t be happier; he travelled to Karachi to meet me, and we had our first moonlit tryst at Boat Basin, Clifton. There were no words in the beginning, just an intense eye contact. Our souls might have consummated when our eyes met. If eyes are windows to the soul, I saw how his pupils dilated when he looked at me. His eyes became an enlarged opening for our souls to pass through and mate. Like physical connection, perhaps our souls could not wait for the spiritual bond…

We were so comfortable eating grilled kebabs in a shady restaurant. The air was pervaded with the smell of freshly baked naan, spices, and the smoke of cheap cigarettes. He looked adorable as he swayed to the incomprehensible Punjabi song playing in the background. And to my surprise, I was not embarrassed to show him around, how polluted and overpopulated the city has become. The cool breeze did not affect us; our chemistry was already stirring up the heat.

We talked about his work for a little while.

“Finance is for risk takers; there’s no harm in initiating with hesitant investors,” he smirked. He knew I got the innuendo, but he continued, “Pushing yourself harder, aiming at multiple regions and channelling into the right spot:

in comes mergers and acquisitions, in comes equity capital markets, in comes debt capital markets.”

“Teach me the difference between want and need,” I asked pretending I didn’t no the basics of economics.

“Need is for survival.” He pointed at his heart.

“Want is a desire.” He pointed at my lower lip.

“The client with thirst must always come first.”

He would have gone on, but he looked down at the menu and then back up at me in sheer perplexity.  He couldn’t read a single word in Urdu, but this was where I took the lead. I explained to him that Urdu is written in Arabic script, from right to left. I took out a pen from my bag and flaunted my Urdu skills by writing his name on a tissue paper, and then wrote mine next to it, and of course, drew a heart around it. He pointed at the last alphabet of my name. “Is this ‘n’ in Urdu?” he asked. “Yes, we have a separate letter for a silent ‘n,’ “N?n ?unn?”, like the sound of the nasal ‘n’ in French.” He smiled at me, but I tried to hide mine and avoided his gaze, instead reading out the dessert section of the menu. I introduced him to the famous Peshawari ice cream, a Pakistani version of vanilla ice cream made from fresh malai, clotted cream. As I placed the order, I couldn’t hear my own words, that mosquito buzzed in my ear nonstop, and I felt suffocated…


There was a power outage, and I opened my eyes to only find that the rendezvous was just another midnight dream.

Now, I think to myself that if light travels at 186,000 miles per second, then the speed of my thoughts travel in no time. If I think about him, my thoughts have crossed all distances and time zones. 

Distance = speed × time

Maybe he is continents away, but wherever he is, he’s mine.



Mr. Think Thankful

Mr. Bank-full quite a handful,

flashes his Goldman sackful.

He reads tragic stories from Guardian and

stays up all night for liquid assets.

In bed, quite an expensive affair,

We exchange stocks, beware.

He hides one in his briefcase

and hands me the other, 

“baby, just in case”.

Each of his muscle

flexes with division of labour.

When the market emerges, 

he rolls me over:

“I can defy the theory of

diminishing returns!”

I know her flavour.

He flaunts his  purchasing power

by buying me presents in £ and $.

“you’re the peak of inflation”

This economy will never recover.

When I question is that how we roll?

He opens his wallet, 

Debit, Credit, Savings and Off-set,

you can have them all.

Begging for consumer satisfaction,

he demands,

but I do not supply.

Leaving him blue.

But when he gently bargains,

I give in.

Soul-shattering prices for

toe-curling thrices!                    


About Afshan Amin Mohammad

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