The sound of azaan echoed through the neighbourhood. The sun was about to set. Asif had been playing cricket for a couple of hours. Or atleast trying to. He had been feeling off since lunch break at school. The new brand of bottled water the canteen-wala had stocked his shelves with hadn’t exactly suited Asif’s already messed up stomach. He came home and walked slowly to the kitchen where amma was busy making chapatis for dinner. His face had gotten pale and his body had started to tremble. He gathered the courage to ask amma for help but all that came out was an inhuman groan. Amma turned around and looked at him. Her already hardened face had a frown. “Haan, tabyat hogae kharaab? Mana kia tha dhoop mein na khel cirkit. Ja ab, khambakht. Panadol kha aur so ja. Aur tu kar he kia sakta hay!” Asif nodded obediently and struggled towards the medicine cabinet. But before he could reach it, the world around him went dark.
Half an hour later, Asif had transformed into something that his mother would have easily labelled, “Shetani makhlooq”. But it was a bit too late for her to do that. Asif had already bitten his way through her neck. She, in turn, had “woken up” to bite Asif’s father who had just entered the house after a long day of work at the garment factory. Pretty soon, the whole neighbourhood was swarming with walking corpses of the ex-living inhabitants. News spread fast. The local masjid sent out a warning announcement which was loosely based around the concept of “jinnaat”, “azaab” and “iblees”. All hell broke loose.
Bilal was busy downloading porn on his second hand Pentium 3 when his loyal Nokia 1100 started to buzz. The screen said, “Bhai”. He picked it up and said salaam. The conversation that followed was pretty one sided and all Bilal did was nod his head. Minutes later he was out on the street, brandishing an old cricket bat. He was joined by a few of his muhallay k mates. They too had similar weapons at their disposal. “Scene on hay, bhai. Aaj tau khulla haath rakhna hay, maamay.”, exclaimed one of them in excitement. Bilal grinned in return.
Asif was no more. He was merely a block of decaying flesh walking around the now dead neighbourhood, jumping at the first chance of getting his gutka infested teeth into anything that moved. Every few seconds, he would run into someone from his muhalla. The local panw wala, the muhallay ke “aunty”. the corner walay baba and the college wali Munni. They would all stop for a few seconds, stare at each other and then walk away into random directions. The neighbourhood felt peaceful. The creatures walked quitely, like shadows in the night and rats under the floorboards. It was eerily beautiful. But like most things, it was short lived. “Maaro salon ko, bhen****!”, someone screamed and like an old clock turns into action, the neighbourhood came to life. Young, skinny, men came in from all directions swearing senselessly and carrying weapons of all sorts. Some had pipes. Others had knives. One of them even had a prosthetic leg. They were followed by older men, carrying guns and burning torches. “Jalaado, bhen****** ko!” Bhoon daalo”. Finally, came the news reporters. Everyone one of them screaming their channel’s name. It was crazy. The creatures, hundreds in numbers, were no match for the crazy mob that had done this drill before. They had been seasoned during the “loadshedding” riots, the “strike” riots, the “paani ke qillat” riots and the “burn all cng station” riots. They grinned and laughed and tore away the mindless creatures into several mindless pieces. Somewhere in the background, an old radio played, “Ay wattan k sajeelay jawaan…”
The sound of the Isha azaan echoed through the neighbourhood. Bilal and his friends were at the local chai dhaba sipping away at the brilliantly cooked doodh-patti. One of them cheerfully exclaimed, ” Abay, bachi ko tau fone krlay. Yahan say tau bach gaya, magar woh tau kacha chaba jayay ge.” Bilal grinned. His eye caught the view of the small TV at the counter. The news channel was reporting a disturbance in a small area of Karachi. He grinned again and looked away.