The 70th death.
[Text by Farooq Soomro; photo by Waseem Nawaz]
A friend once described Farooq Soomro as a chameleon that changes its shades pompously yet blends within its surroundings without ever letting anyone know that it is an outsider.
A quintessential Karachi denizen, one could only imagine his death to take place on a Karachi-esque day with plenty of drama. But no, his death did not take place under any such circumstances, for as unpredictable and erratic he was, he was taken to hospital with severe respiratory failure. Earlier in the day, he had participated in a balloon filling competition and blew nearly 39 balloons before he was rushed to the ER. Pronounced dead on arrival! He was only 39. His psychiatrist had insisted that he participate in such frivolous competitions in order to distract himself from the misery of a routine life and toil of creative activities. Much to his amazement (or one can assume), he was given second prize at the competition posthumously.
Mr Soomro worked for a multinational company in Karachi. It was an uneasy relationship at best and within this, he found enough time to fall in love with his city and establish himself as the ‘Karachi Walla’ – the one who pioneered Sunday reveries in old Saddar. Then of course, he managed ‘Overheard in Karachi’, which got a lot of people pecking at him for capturing them anonymously yet so candidly. There is a rumor that he created both forums to compensate for his personal and professional failures. The rumor has some basis after all, as he was not even a born Karachiwalla.
Mr Soomro has left a collection of several unread books, few unfinished canvases, vinyl records and other useless things that he picked up at various flea markets across Karachi. His most prized asset was a signed copy of Mushtaq Ahmed Yousfi’s Aab-e-gum.
A memorial service was held at Roadside Café, his second home or as some would argue, his first, which was largely attended by the café staff and a small number of his queer fans, often popping emails in his inbox for various Karachi related chores and favors. Funnily enough, the resident café painter has already started working on his portrait which had been placed close to Yousufi Sahib’s. Hope he is placed as happily in the heavens.
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