I stopped in Al-Zahra, tearful and meditative, to cry out in the middle of the destroyed ruins “Oh, Zahra -said- come back to be!” But it told me: “May the deceased return?”
Al-Sumaysir wrote these lines when he visited abandoned capital of Ummayya Caliphate of Al-Andalus. I felt for him. Requiem for the city! Our city has a different fortune but don’t we long for the soul of our city, which was lost in all that plunder which we have witnessed in our lifetimes. Requiem for the soul of Karachi. Let’s not go there any further.
Not a very long time ago, welfare of the citizens in general and women in particular was a priority for policy makers and affluent. It is apparent from the landmarks scattered across Saddar area. Goolbai Maternity home is one shinning example. A beauty to behold, despite being abandoned God knows when (Can anyone help me with it?). Founded in 1920 (though one of the foundation stone says 1819), it still shames the monumental ugliness surrounding it. It was founded by none other than Jamshed Nusarwanjee, the father of modern day Karachi. In honor of his mother. They don’t do such deeds anymore. Do they? Renaming an airport or a city does not belong to this league, I suppose.
The Karachi Walla went there on a sullen Sunday morning when quettay ka hawa was blowing through empty street, scattering fallen neem tree leafs around the front area. There was a monument on the right honoring Nusarwanjee senior. A fountain lies in the middle of the front parking area. A foundation stone is part of the it on which some idiot has thrown blue paint. The windows and doors stand firm along with rest of the building thankfully. The main staircase is locked. I peeped through the windows into the empty room. Some basic furniture still lies there. There is sadness here. I looked up at the front gate’s top. Goolbai Nusarwanjee Mehta Paris Maternity Home is written on intricate glass work. Floor Tiles have survived. The front wall is painted blue. Probably recently but somehow it still goes with the building. There are few houses behind the building, inside the boundary wall. Probably built for the staff. People still live there. No idea if they have any connection with the Maternity home but they can be trouble if they find you clicking around. Breaks my heart, that people are forced to fear each other for no reason. Then again you can’t really blame them. Such are the times.
Let me know if anyone knows anything additional about the building.
God bless Goolbai Nusarwanjee!
God make us more resilient.
Long live Karachi.