From April 24, 2015, till now, much has been said about an individual who was ruthlessly murdered in the streets of Karachi. A city which has grown just too fond of bloodied streets. During these seven days, Sabeen Mehmud, a human par excellence, has been put on a pedestal as high as the highest ranking angels, at the same time, dragged in mud, on the streets, completely denying the respect she warranted.
From a messiah to a foreign agent, from an elitist to a dervish, from a national asset to a threat, she has been labeled almost anything and everything during these past few days. What has been most perturbing is that those sharing extreme views about her, when asked if they knew her, responded “NO”.
Without referring to my personal affiliation with this individual who defined humanity, love, respect and a lot more, here is sketch of Saturday, 25th of April, 2015, outside T2F as a cross section of the society gathered to bid farewell to Sabeen Mehmud. Perhaps that is what reflected best on who Sabeen was.
Sabeen was the men and women who drove to T2F that day in their fancy cars, in most cases, driven by their chauffeurs. They came as silently as the rest. Amid the crowd, just like everyone else, they tried to locate someone they knew, said a few words and stood there with eyes welled-up. The women made their way inside. Sabeen was the men and women who rode in buses, took rickshaws and taxis, just to be there. They too, walked up to T2F, silently, and stood there, saying nothing at all, yet saying it all. Sabeen was the men and women who came along with security guards. Sabeen was also the journalists, most of them were not there to cover the event. They were there, just to be there. Sabeen was also the professionals, the well established businesspersons and at the same time Sabeen was also the small shopkeepers, the vendors of the area, the tailor behind T2F. Sabeen was almost everyone ranging from teenage to late 60s and 70s. Sabeen was that one women, most probably in her late 40s, who wore a complete hijab and cried silently in the crowd. And Sabeen was also this young female, who may have been in her late teens or early 20s, wearing a sleeveless shirt, with a tattoo, smoking away in the middle of the crowd, crying, very obviously and personally disturbed. Sabeen was that man in the 70s wearing a prayer cap with a long beard, eyes wet with streaks of red, who kept reciting Kalma-e-Shahadat, silently as his lips quivered. Yet Sabeen was also that young teenager with the funky hairdo, wearing a stud in the ear, crying, communicating his pain only through the look on his face. Sabeen was also all the celebrities who had taken time out to be at the venue and Sabeen was also the people no one knew, but Sabeen did, and they knew Sabeen.
All throughout the hours that day, personal stories of how Sabeen had touched so many lives were pouring through the mumbles and whispers in the crowd, amid sheer pain. One would find it difficult to understand or comprehend how was it possible for a single individual, ‘Sabeen Mehmud’, to be there for so many, so personally, to be a friend and to make the other feel to be the one and only best friend.
This is who Sabeen was, is and will be. The light. The hope. The enabler. Sabeen was ‘all inclusive’. Her cause was ‘humanity’.
I have been in mourning for days, yes, due to a personal loss, but much more for a bigger reason. A reason unfathomable. I mourn for Pakistan. I mourn for the world. For Pakistan and the world is poorer today.