Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Someone to blame

September 14

It seems like just a few months ago we were trying to come up with a different way to layout the “flood stories” (a deluge of stories about storms in those months) so people would still pick up the paper and read about other people whose lives were streaming away from them in muddy, brown waters.

When you work for a newspaper, news becomes old really soon. The tragedy of a city like Karachi is reflected in a city editor who has been in the business for 10 years and when there’s a bomb blast, what comes to her mind first is: what will the headline be this time? “I’m running out of ideas and new angles…” she would puff out exasperatedly.

Just halfway through our first year publishing news, we started taking things in our stride: ‘okay, so we don’t need to worry about page 2 and 3 because there are so many flood stories; the building collapse in Lyari comes with a really good photograph so that’ll be all of page 1 anchor (bottom part)’.

The tragedy of a country like Pakistan is we cannot take time out for a horror like Americans do for 9/11 every year with a million flags and memorials, reliving the heartbreaking disaster and making new or renewing old promises and prejudices alike, because if we were to hold a moment of silence for all the people we have lost to terrorism, there would be no sound for years, and if we were to build steel monuments in memory for the men, women and children who have been killed since 9/11, there would be no space for the living.

The tragedy, and maybe the mad resilience, the courage, the only hope, is in the fact that we Pakistanis continue to laugh, drive, eat, buy cigarettes and fall in love.

It’s strange to be so far away from home and be so divorced from the reality back there.

It seems like a few months ago that I was going through the wire agencies and all the photographs from Pakistan were of the flood. It feels unreal to open the Tribune on my laptop and see the same pictures again…except they’re not the same and it is happening again. It hurts my brain and I cannot digest it, even (or maybe because) thousands of miles away from the actual pain of it. Not again, not so soon, not the same disaster. I need someone to blame.

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