The Writing on Our Walls by Faisal Qamar

Back in the eighties, reading the walls of Karachi was as educational as reading books. More so, in fact, as the bombastic slogans and fantastic ultimatums helped us kids understand those ground realities that prepare you for practical life. For example, one of the earliest demands I remember is this wall chalking: quota system khatam karo.

End quota system?

I did not understand this. Grainy pictures of people standing in bread lines in the USSR came to mind. That, I used to think, was the quota system. But there were no lines at the neighborhood store where I was sent to buy bread. I would hand over a five rupee bill and get a large-sized loaf. If we had guests, I could get two or even three. The shopkeeper didn’t impose any quota on bread.

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