What do you call it though?
They must have a complex name surely but in Karachi they got famous as Mustafa Kamal plants.
So, its these plants that are just everywhere now.
Quite literally everywhere.
Be it the ‘almost-suburb’ Malir Cantonmentt or the Karsaz road, those plants have grown at such a speedy rate that, in most places, have completely hidden the path they are planted on. With almost similar speed had a lot of rumors circulated about it. Some said they are poisonous while some said they suck away all the nutrition from the ground. Some also said they lessened the oxygen from the air. But she didn’t pay any attention to it because it didn’t concern her until… until that day.
That day strike had broken out instantaneously. Karachi was volatile like that a few years ago.
She was in her car when it had happened. Main Shahrah e Faisal road.
It had all happened at such a fast rate, but she remembers every single detail.
Something had hit her car’s windshield. The glass had broken into million pieces. The shards flew at her face.
She tried to get out of the car when some men with their faces covered rushed towards her. They were obviously not there to help.
When they were done beating the shit out of her, they left her.
That’s when she found the strength to crawl over towards those plants. She wanted to hide.
And somehow, she made it there. Blood oozing out of her, tired, she lay there in the midst of the plants camouflaged as one with them.
She had closed her eyes, but she was hearing everything.
She could even hear the rustle of the plants but she heard so much more: the pain, the screams, the angry shouts, and then sometime later, she also heard help coming. She heard police sirens and ambulances. But nobody came for her.
The leaves kept rustling.
It must have been a lot of hours when she felt she could get up and get some help. She opened her eyes and saw the plants hovering over her. She could swear they were hovering over her.
Realizing it wasn’t the time to prove or disprove her hallucinations, she focused on her injuries. The cuts on her hands. The gashes on her face. The scratches on her legs. She looked at her blood covered hands. The blood had dried by now. That weird copper tinge that forms, was visible.
The copper tinge that vampires must taste. But the blood wasn’t the issue. Or was it?
Because the blood was there. Just no injury.
There was no injury on her hands, no gash on her face, no scratches on her legs. How could it all disappear?
Mysteriously the cuts had healed.
A few days passed after that incident and then one day, she was going to the shop for a band-aid.
She had just gotten a papercut. As she walked, she moved towards the center isle of the road and raised her phone to type something. And in that light from the phone, she saw it, this time first-hand. The healing quickened and the skin, it seems, got sewed together.
She stopped in her tracks. What had just happened? What exactly had she witnessed? Why did it remind her of that day? the day of the strike. Was there any similarity? Both events happened on very different parts of Karachi. She could only think of external factors. And rightly so. Had there been intenral factors, she could have healed at home too. No. There was something more. The time of day wa also different. And then she heard the rustle of leaves. Indeed. It was the same rustlr. It was the same plants. The plants were indeed mysterious. They had healing power. They had to. What else could explain it? Something in those plants had healed her.
But she hadn’t planned to do anything with that information. Not when she saw the escalating crime numbers; not when robbers openly mugged people; not even when criminals openly harassed victims regardless of police presence.
And then one day as she stood outside her office, taking in the evening sun, she saw a man armed with a knife charging towards a woman. He was on a bike. The distance kept on lessening. He would have stabbed her.
And then she did it. She stepped forward. She got right between the knifeman and the stranger woman, grabbed his arm, and twisted it and rolled him over. The bike sped from underneath him. 10 year Taekwondo training could only help for that, not for what followed.
The pain seared through her hand.
The Knife had pierced through.
Men came rushing.
They grabbed him and held him down.
People came towards her as well… to help her I imagine, but she hurried away towards the footpath, towards the plants.
She had saved that woman.
She felt at the top of the world.
Karachi had gotten its own superhero.