My happiest childhood memories are of weekends at the beach in Karachi.
Pakistan was the another country in the 1970s –– a time when it was thinkable for two young women to pack a picnic basket and head for the beach for overnight stay.
The two women were my mother, Ghazala, and her best friend, Rehana, whom our family fondly knew as Kitten. Kitten Khala owned a flourishing garments export business which was able to afford her the luxury of renting a hut at Sandspit beach. This was our weekend getaway, and Karachi was safe enough a city in those days for a group of women and children to stay overnight at the beach.
Sometimes, Kitten Khala’s mother would also accompany us, and I have fond memories of Nano in her limp cotton sari hiked up to her ankles, its starched crispness turned soggy by the salty ocean breeze, collecting shells off the beach. It was she who introduced me to the cowrie, the most magical of seashells.
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