Chuck Jackson © 2011 sehba_sarwar. All rights reserved.

11:00 PM

Story from Third Worlds

Performer: Chuck Jackson
Location: 2304 Truxillo, Front Porch

It’s a little before midnight as I stand on the curbside, after the rehearsals, waiting for a cab. The drive back home will take about an hour. Let me introduce myself. I’m a musician; not just by profession – music is my religion. Based in Karachi, I am formally trained in eastern and western classical and jazz music from Pakistan’s first performing arts academy, NAPA (National Academy of Performing Arts). I support my family of four: my parents, younger sister and myself, by teaching and making music.

Let’s now go back to where I was: in a cab, on the busiest road of the city, Sharah-e-Faisal. The road was previously as crowded at night as it is in the day, but it seems people now prefer to retreat to their ‘cages’ they call home as soon as the sun sets. We are passing the ‘FTC Auditorium’ right now. There was a time when we used to perform here frequently; when the city was active and alive. And then something happened; it all changed. There’s a sense of uncertainty, for nowhere near as many people are seen enjoying the view of the sea or having ‘Zahid Ki Nihari’ in the wee hours as once was the norm.

Things have changed, but my routine is still the same. I wake up at 8:30 in the morning and go to a school where I teach kids of all ages how to appreciate nature, peace and love by understanding music and other forms of arts. The other half of the day is spent busy in the studio. When there is no work, I record my own material. I still rehearse with my troupe Nritaal where I get a chance to communicate with amazing dancers and musicians who are persevering in this form of art in such times.

I am still living the life of a busy musician in this ex-city of lights. The lights of Karachi may have dimmed, but who can dampen the light burning inside my heart? The light of hope. Hope of seeing a better Pakistan, a secular Pakistan: a Pakistan which will be free from all senseless theories that divide people on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion. I will continue to make and teach music to the children of the nation. I am aware I might not be able to eat the fruits from the tree I am planting, but I am sure future generations will.

I believe whatever negativity exists in my country and society cannot penetrate through this armour of positivity I sport. If hate and terror is what they dream of, then love and peace is my reality. It’s about 1 am and I’m almost home. I must leave you all now, for it’s been a long day and I could eat a horse!