These were the words spoken to me by a smiling girl with glasses in a small cafe which was the first version of T2F many years ago here in Karachi, . The premise was me sitting and hammering something out on a laptop mini I had at that time and her coming over to invite me into a discussion they were having on the other table & me retorting with the usual who what where how questions, as discourse in Pakistan with strangers was unfathomable to me. She retorted with “Aap bakwaas band karen ge tu me bataon gi na” and jarred me out of whatever state of denial I was in to join the conversation going on. That girl was Sabeen Mehmood.
Over the years I kept going back to T2F and had the pleasure of talking to Sabeen many times, working with her in the #SOCMM12 and meeting many special people through the space she had created out of sheer passion and not much else for all of us. Instead of focusing on the past though I would like to talk about the things I noticed when I went for Sabeen’s funeral at T2F yesterday..the 25th of April 2015.
I noticed that it is extremely hard to carry a friends coffin…It felt like the weight of the world and all her hopes and dreams were upon me…
I noticed it is surreal when you see friends who have mentored so many over the years, who have stood resolute amongst the toughest times cry like babies..
I noticed how heartwarming & ironic it is to see hundreds upon hundreds turn up for a funeral from all parts of life and community here in Karachi..
I noticed that there is something absolutely wrong about banks upon banks of cameras taking pictures at a friends funeral…preparing for coverage without even understanding what this meant or who she was..naapa type crowd lagta hay some of them said..
I noticed that I had not attended a funeral where women walked with the coffin..went to the mosque and prayed the namaz e janaza and then walked alongside the men to the graveyard to stand witness to the burial…
I noticed that I have never seen a woman as graceful, humble and strong as Sabeen’s mother on her daughters funeral consoling her friends and well wishers….
I noticed & understood what it means when a person breathes life into a building as T2F yesterday seemed desolate and cold…
We all cried at Sabeens funeral, but I think she was sitting up there laughing at us and there is a reason for me saying this. You see yesterday was the most well attended event T2F ever had, yesterday was the day everyone came readily. Before yesterday anyone can see the pictures of Sabeen protesting at different venues all over this city and you will see Zak, Nuzhat aunty, her mom, Mohsin, Awab and a smattering of people that were always with her, not the crowds of hundreds that showed up. You can also pore through the pictures of events at T2F whether they were cultural or musical or discussion based and also count the number of cameras present which brings me to my point.
We as a nation have a habit of glorifying people when they leave us…but I ask all of you this today.. where were we when she needed us the most? Has anyone ever considered the fact that this was a hero living in our midst and we had the chance to aide her in her struggle rather then to ignore the many messages she sent out for people to come and join her? (choro yar sabeen akeli kafee hay) Have all of these people writing eulogies on social media about Sabeen (i’m not trying to take away from their feelings) stood up for what she believed in? Have they read her statuses about how it feels to stand in the sun outside press club with 7 people and then be made fun off? Do we understand what we have lost as a city? Are we going to carry on her dream… her T2F? Will we become united in the face of the odds that stand before us today?
Sabeen was a force of nature and because she was that, she made all these things happen around her and in her path. However that force of nature is gone now. What is to come is up to us… what is to come is what Sabeen gave her life for….
Alvida sabeen…me phir bakwas karne laga..kia karun purani aadat hay na..S.M Khan aur Steve Jobs ko mere sallam dena..issi order me.