Karachi’s graffiti has always been an indication of where the people’s hearts lie and this would-be haiku spells out a message of weariness, confusion and borderline apathy quite clearly.
From Asim Butt’s valentine to the city to the image of a burqa-clad Marilyn Monroe, the city’s Zamzama area is a canvas of amorous messages, vague advertisements (where is the ‘Memon Aquarium’?) and pithy one-liners.
Venture into neighbourhoods with slightly less well-heeled Karachi’ites and you’ll find a veritable Yellow Pages for the needs of the single-and-unmarried or those plagued by black magic. This month, the Herald focused on the writing on the wall in Karachi’s poverty-ridden Lyari. Children wandered past foot-high obscenities painted on crumbling walls. Layers of wall chalking and spray paint canceled conflicting messages out. “Pakistan House” was sprayed above several festering rubbish heaps, and frustration towards various politicians and their parties was crudely vented out. This is not the style of street art made famous by artists like Banksy; the message here is simple, a gauge of the people’s sentiments and, at other times, an assertion of power, a desire to scrawl your name on a possession to say, “This is mine.”