“It’s Karachi. It’s where life and love come to die. It has nothing.”
The above line is an excerpt of Saba Imtiaz’s novel ‘Karachi You’re Killing Me’ which showcases a different world of Karachi. I remember that this novel was published in 2014 but I didn’t get the chance to read at that time. Recently it caught my attention when it was announced that Sonakshi Sinha’s next film Noor is based on Imtiaz novel. I just thought to give it a read.
Ayesha is a 28-year-old journalist with the gift of finding herself in absurd, often mind-boggling, situations. She lives in Karachi with her father and an arrogant cat who behaves like a sibling to her. She has a snobbish boss (Kamran) and her job becomes nightmarish as she struggles to keep up with her boss’s grueling schedule and demeaning demands (it kind of reminds me Miranda Priestly in Lauren Weisberger’s Devil Wears Prada). The only surviving factor which keeps her going in her gruesome job is lots of booze, cigarettes, and of course her 3 a.m. friends (Zara and Saad), who she could look up to for everything.
From interviewing designers, freed Guantanamo detainee to reporting on gang-wars, her brief is to cover almost everything that happens in Karachi. Being a journalist is not easy in this conflicted area. Running from pillars to post, she stumbles upon many adversities which include the gunmen, near miss from death, starlets, and elite teenagers and who’s who of Karachi.
The book had a very Moni Mohsin’s ‘The Diary of a Social Butterfly’ and Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary ‘ feel to it, filled with humour and a protagonist who you often found ranting about a city she loved and wanted to escape at the same time. It was inked with words that Pakistanis, especially Karachiites will understand instantly and conversations that simply leapt of the page because they honestly felt so real.
I have lived a major chunk of my life in Karachi and living here is nothing but a roller coaster ride. One will see a phenomenal diversity in this city which I don’t think one can find in other city. The city with its exuberance has a tendency to embrace every wanderer and seeking soul in its arms. It gives hopes and dreams to all those seekers who traveled to this place in hope to make it big in their lives.
Despite its vivacity, the city is a difficult place to live in especially for journalists. Interesting part of Imtiaz novel was her wittiness that enables readers to stomach out the horrendous details without grimacing.
“People tend to think living amid bombs and blood is inspiring. It isn’t. It just makes me feel exhausted with the sheer pressure of either trying to shrug it off like nothing happened or having to write about it-how many new ways can one come up with to write about blood and gore? A couple odd one-liners in the book cracked me up bad. This is not a story of terrorism or a mishap faced by the city but a feisty girl’s everyday story which is a concoction of lies, deceit, love, passion, hate, friendship, misfortunes and trust.” (Excerpt from Novel)
The downside of the novel was having no real plot and a predictable story. At maximum, it appears like Ayesha’s memoirs on display and while they are interesting, one wonders if this would be all in the book which had an interesting enough premise to lead into a much bigger show. Nevertheless one does not lose interest, the sway appeal that one expected, especially with such a powerful title, isn’t quite there.
P.S. After reading this novel, I just wonder how Sonakshi would justify with the character of this novel.I am not optimist about Sinha playing Ayesha’s character as the novel has a tongue-in-cheek humour which I doubt Sinha would be able to pull it off.. For now let’s just wait till the cat comes out of the bag ( 2017 it is!)