It is mango season. The wood of the door smells like it. Do you know the smell? It is sickly sweet. It is the sweetest you'll ever taste. Mangoes here aren't similies, they are metaphors. They are smelled, they are looked over and the police isn't good but the mangoes are. Sometimes my brother accelerates when there is a body sprawled across the road at 1 AM but he stops at a mango stall. The mango-seller knows the art of selling mangoes. They are piled on top of each other like pyramids on flimsy wooden stands and sometimes mangoes at the bottom of the pile are not-sweet but never bitter. There are fleas but the mango-seller whips his ragged cloth and they fly away momentarily.
It is mango season. It means the sun is high and when the temperature rises, the sweat trickles down the face of the man with too many wrinkles and chocolate brown skin. Air-conditioners feel like a lie, because the girl in the street and bangle clad wrists doesn't live inside cool air, the man on his motorbike is letting the sun seep into his skin, and somehow my skin knows that. At one point, you have to switch it off and let the air out and the hot air barges in. It is very hot here but the mangoes are sweet. My friend says her summers were punctuated by mangoes and that you could slurp mango pulp and it could be all over you and you could bleed mango and her father would take a water pipe and wash it away. I sit in my kitchen and someone offers me a mango after a fight like a peace offering and my hands bleed mango in the middle of the night. They say no mangoes taste sweeter.
It is mango season. There are a few ways to measure summers in Karachi. One: when you need a bath after every thirty minutes. Second: when you spot the mangoes on stalls. Third: with the monsoon rains. Summer is loud and ceiling fans roll like spinning tops - it is a busy season for the cieling fans. But you can sing in the bathroom because nobody will hear. There is no silence except yours. Sometimes God decides that the Sun needs a break so the clouds pillow fight and scream grey and come pouring out. Some people think rain is the kind of time when you write poetry, other people pile up on motorbikes and drive away to the seaview road and find the beach where they find more water. Some people stand in their doorways and update their statuses and some are grumpy because they don't understand why everybody is excited about rain. There are no rules here. You just are. Teachers form human barricades to drag students into corridors from the open ground so they don't go wild in the rain but when the bell rings for the last time in the day, armies and armies of girl come thumping down the stairs in Viva la Vida fashion, and there is a noise, it is a "Whoo!" and a "Haa!" combined. It is nothing and it is everything and it is chaos just because it rained. But there are flip sides. There are sides of the story when water stalls in the street, the transformers explode, the ceilings fans dawdle into lifelessness. The electricity leaves and somebody shakes their head with a resigned sigh. The next morning the water will stand still, you have to roll up the windows because someone will zoom ahead and splash water all over you. There are sides to the story when you are reading in the glow of an emergency light for your entrance test because there is no electricity, there is no generator, and the silence is dead because the water still stands and the car engine died and your grandmother is at the hospital. There are bad times. There are good times.
It is mango season. I can mark the calender with the kind of drinks blending in the blender. At first it is lassi, sweet and frothy, complete with a white moustache across your face. Then there are juices made out of unripe mangoes and then mango milkshakes and then the moustache across your face is yellow. The sunset is dressed in Khaki, the clouds always form a different pattern and the heat dies down at five-o-clock, now you can feel the wind. We are not silent. My city is ridiculous. Humour is plastered across phrases at the back-side of a rickshaw. It says, "Ab ham kidhar jaein?" Where do we go? June-july is said together, like a couple, married by sunshine. I have never seen a tourist in my city, white-skin people don't stand on roof-tops and take pictures. Maybe because no one has ever seen the places like we have. Nobody except us has taken the wind for granted, because nobody except us has called the chaos of the city home. The streelights burn yellow, and on the rooftop there is always room for another poem, another letter, another song. Sometimes I like that we are alive. Sometimes I don't understand why we know the sound of ambulances better than we should have, sometimes I don't understand why people are stolen as much, if not more, than things and sometimes I don't understand why the night cripples into fear. Sometimes I find the answer in the gardener who always returns to water the flowers, sometimes I find the answer in the man who stalls his rickshaw and looks at the sun setting behind the clusters of houses somebody calls home, sometimes I find the answer in someone selling garlands at the traffic signal. At one point the garlands take up the entire stand. By night time there are only one or two left.