In almost 15 days’ time, they would be gathered here to pray on Eid. Today, they were here at the Eidgah to celebrate something just as important to them – the World Cup final.
Famous for supporting Brazil, and considering the bitter rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, it was no surprise that almost all who were gathered inside the Eidgah in Lyari were supporting Germany; the enemy of their enemy. The 7-1 loss at the hands of the Germans was forgotten and forgiven, all that mattered was that Argentina should not win.
A roar went up when an Argentine striker missed early on and all present at the ground gasped collectively as the Argentinians threatened to break the German defence.
There were no goals forthcoming in the first half though, and at half-time, the ground started to empty slowly as people went out to buy refreshments. On the other side of the world, in Rio de Janeiro, the World Cup had caused the world to stand still. Here in Lyari, it had sparked it into life.
Those who remained inside the ground talked of how they were sure that the Brazil defeat was fixed; still unable to grasp the reality that their beloved team had been knocked out. They refused to accept that there could be a better team than the Brazilians, insisting on coming up with all kinds of excuses, from political espionage to divine interference, to justify the inexplicable loss.
The second half soon began and the longer it went without a goal, the more restless they became. They feared the worst; that Argentina would conquer Brazil, that it would be their bitter rivals that would lift the World Cup. And then it happened, Mario Gotze scored, and just as the Maracana erupted in relief thousands of miles away, the Eidgah roared with joy.
When the final whistle blew, a loud cheer went up. It was over, Brazil had not won but neither had Argentina – Lyari was happy. And soon, gunshots echoed in celebration through the narrow alleyways and the ground.
The Eidgah, once a graveyard according to the residents, came alive. A few danced, another few shouted ‘Germany, Germany’, others formed a train and walked around the ground shouting whatever gibberish came to their exultant minds, and the Eidgah’ fervent celebrations culminated with German flags being waved around as the supporters slowly left the ground, one by one.
Only a few of them went home though as most went straight to the Cheel Chowk, where a large crowd had gathered. Under the large sculpture of the hunting eagle, they hoisted flags of Germany and Brazil, side by side, it was a victory for both of them as far as they were concerned, and along with it, a victory for Lyari.
In every street of Germany, from Munich to Dortmund, the football-crazy nation celebrated their triumph. Here in this small quaint neighbourhood of Karachi, so did the Baloch.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.