Mohammad Khalid Akhtar: The Accomplished Writer

Published in Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan, in 2000

As you walk through him into the narrow, labyrinthine lanes of the old quarters of Karachi, past ramshackle shops shadowed by faded and worn-out signboards, enter dilapidated buildings with narrow wooden staircases, wrought iron balconies, arched windows, and peep into dinghy offices and residential quarters, a curious world opens up. A world as bright as a mid-summer day and as dark as a moon-less night, a world throbbing with life, a world full of people, ordinary people with extraordinary proclivities, dreaming special dreams, planning little things, reaching out to each other through transient strands of passion, love and hatred. You breathe in the air filled with their smells, tinged with their colours, intermingled with breathing of your companion, the writer, the guide who has taken a back seat and is trailing behind you in the expeditions he marked out for you with such a delightful innocence. Like a child who lets you have a peep in to his kaleidoscope, delighted to let you discover the bright, colourful shifting patterns, each a tiny distinct world of its own, made of splintered glass. The patterns that he has not created, the patterns that have existed since millenium but the pleasure of the discovery is entirely his own.

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