list of phrases, words, feelings which mean something.

from the book Kartography by Kamila Shamsie.

  1. usual suspects
  2. spinning globe
  3. static above the Arabian Sea
  4. This world is out of date
  5. I still hear the world spinning
  6. 1986
  7. Krokola
  8. That’s an interesting thought
  9. that sounds rude
  10. mud on his knees and chlorophyll on mine
  11. imagine it
  12. when I squint, I only see blur
  13. You know, if I wasn’t me, you wouldn’t be you
  14. ramble
  15. piping-hot symbolism
  16. beginningmiddlend
  17. that-was-cause-not-effect
  18. proceed
  19. Her definition of romance was absent-minded intimacy, the way someone else’s hands stray to your plate of food. I replied : no, that’s just friendship; romance is always knowing exactly where that someone elses’s hands are. She smiled and said, there was a time I thought that way, too. But at the heart of romance is the knowledge that those hands may wander off elsewhere, but somehow through luck or destiny or plain blind gropingthey’ll find their way back to you, and maybe you’ll be smart enough then to be grateful for everything that’s still possible, in spite of your own weaknesses – and his.
  20. Dekho!
  21. smogsniffers
  22. hey, cuz.
  23. For a second I was almost jealous of the clouds. Why was he looking to them for escape when I was right here beside him?
  24. blase
  25. Why do you have to be so annoying sometimes? Can’t help it. It’s the company I keep.
  26. chrysanthemums and roses
  27. idioddity!
  28. Enough now. Go back.
  29. hack air
  30. Just mindless violence
  31. precipice
  32. crop rag hearts
  33. that-is-so-pre-teen
  34. Those Genes Could Have Been Mine
  35. ole!
  36. ‘I’ll fall.’ ‘You won’t fall.’ ‘I’ll fall. I’ll fall and I’ll die.’ As I said it, I could see it happening. The foot stepping on air, pulling the rest of my body wit t, tree limbs breaking as I plummeted down. ‘No,’ he said, his voice assured, ‘You’d never do that to me.’
  37. It’s a moonsmile. No light of its own unless there’s a sun for it to reflect off.
  38. You OK?
  39. somewhere deep within the marrow of our marrow, we were the same
  40. utter, irreversible loneliness
  41. our friendship is an itchy throat?
  42. airspace
  43. certes
  44. The music changed.
  45. Can angels lie spine to spine? If not, how they must envy us humans.
  46. So the way we breathe is habit.
  47. I rush cats. Lord no. If it’s a crush and and nothing more, what must love feel like?
  48. Avoid Accidents Here
  49. We should have stories in common, I found myself thinking. We should have stories, and jokes no one understands, and memories that we know will stay alive because neither of us will let the other forget.
  50. Nag a ram.
  51. And, just like that, life was cool again.
  52. Raw, darling, raw.
  53. Nappy Yew Hear
  54. It’s like me without you
  55. How do you eat your roots?
  56. spine to spine and foot to foot was fine.
  57. Bijli fails in the dead of night / Won’t help to call “I need a light” / You’re in Karachi now / Oh, oh you’re in Karachi now. / Night is falling and you just cant see / Is this illusion or KESC / You’re in Karachi now
  58. No pain. Just burning. Seared.
  59. They cannot protect you from this
  60. sack boon
  61. one day people more familiar to me than the smell of sea air would become strangers and I would become a stranger to them.
  62. ‘Talk to her.’ ‘I’ve forgotten how.’
  63. I love you more than what is good for either of us.
  64. some of my tears were his tears, and some of his tears were mine.
  65. AIRPORT <- here I won’t know how to say goodbye (goodbye)
  66. crazy I could handle
  67. Absent or lost?
  68. Don’t touch him, and this will be easier.
  69. I gently squeezed the ink cartridge and a rain drop turned blue.
  70. You have this ability to find beauty in weird places.
  71. hold up a mirror to my eyes?
  72. Do you think I don’t need you?
  73. from sunset to twilight to something darker.
  74. What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with? What’s your happiest memory? What’s your biggest regret? Has there been one experience that changed your life? If you could pick up the phone and call one person now, who would it be?
  75. the hem of my jeans dark with wet
  76. we cease to be what we could have been
  77. Raya.
  78. He was certainly never so cruel that he unveiled my own cruelty to me.
  79. I’m sure the dead feel better about being dead now.
  80. realistic
  81. map-musing
  82.  When we laugh, that’s defiance
  83. That’s a two-way street
  84. I have been speaking to you. Endlessly. It’s all that’s kept me sane.
  85. O Hell. Hello yourself.
  86. Such self-absorption
  87. I’m here, Ra, I’m here.
  88. Don’t, please, don’t disappear.
  89. He hung up so gently, I didn’t even hear the click.
  90. ‘He’s travelling to Egypt.’ ‘What?!’ ‘Gone see-Nile.’
  91. I thought we’d agreed to disagree about religion.
  92. You’ve got goosebumps.
  93. wounded sound
  94. You want to hear the heartbeat of a place? Do you know how hard your heart beats when you’re lost? Do you know what it is to wander out of the comfort of your own stories?
  95. All around us, Karachi kept moving
  96. fated friendship
  97. In my head, always.
  98. Because I’ve missed you too much to be able to bear the thought that it was all one-sided.
  99. second skin
  100. Who told you to come back, you outsider!
  101. he laughs louder and sings more often and always has an answer to any question I ask when the world doesn’t make sense to me and you’d think this sort of adoration wouldn’t last past adolescence.
  102. Mai Kolachi
  103. nightmare of distortion
  104. the echo of an unfamiliar ocean
  105. weeping until I was past tears
  106. A Karachi in which people stayed
  107. My world is falling to piece and you’re still talking about maps!
  108. Oh, God, why weren’t we born orphans?
  109. All colour was leached from the day. We were shadows in a shadow world.
  110. Repeating patterns
  111. He had tears in his eyes even as he told her not to cry.
  112. There’s a ghost of a dream that you don’t even try to shake free off because you’re too in love with the way she haunts you.
  113. ‘You’re worth bleeding over.’ ‘But not by you.’
  114. To the grey areas of our lives. To the slippery slopes, and absence of sign posts.
  115. Transformed into a shadow
  116. Karachi had decided to turn around and wink at me. And in that wink was serious intent: yes, the city said, I am a breeding ground for monsters, but don’t think that is the full measure of what I am.
  117. I can’t stay here. I don’t understand this place. I don’t want to.
  118. I awoke to memory.
  119. I’ll take constancy. Keep the change.
  120. How do you measure love? How do you separate it from selfishnes? Think of all the futures that could have been, all the pasts we’d never understand, everything in the past we kept hidden from one another and ourselves, all the futures that still might be.
  121. ‘Do you know how hard it is for a thirteen-year-old boy to cry infront of anyone? I cried in front of you, only in front of you, because I just needed you to ask what’s wrong and you couldn’t, you couldn’t, you didn’t even care enough to want to know.’
  122. Her fingers didn’t curl around his in response.
  123. it would be nice to dismiss that as rhetoric.
  124. Every day someone new seemed to succumb to the madness that was sweeping the country, someone new said things that defied all understanding, and it was hard to say which was worse: the people who stopped dead, mid-sentence, or the ones who kept talking.
  125. I don’t want to be a stranger among strangers.
  126. I think the end of the world will begin like this.
  127. I think you need a wedding to cheer you up.
  128. soul-destroying day
  129. The moon might be good for you. Sometimes you have trouble leaving your own orbit.
  130. with fingers on each other’s pulses and feel our heartbeats synchronize.
  131. so why go down that path?
  132. Before he was beautiful.
  133. Great macho moment.
  134. Think I’d rather have my set of genes, thanks.
  135. If we had more reliable systems of law and governance perhaps our friendship would be shallower.
  136. I didn’t know what to say or do, so I simply took his hand in mine.
  137. Nike. Undoubtedly fake.
  138. You live in this city, how can you not suffer with it?
  139. OK, time to grow up.
  140. Maps weren’t about going from point A to point B; they were about helping someone hear the heartbeat of a place.
  141. Which stories do you want me to pay attention to? Or, more to the point, which stories have you deliberately turned away from, Ra, and why?
  142. I cranked up the volume of the music as high as it would go, so that none of us could hear our own thoughts.
  143. kneecap to kneecap
  144. I would never subject you to my bare soul.
  145. We never actually have serious conversations about anything for more than 20 seconds. So there’s a beautiful superficiality to our relationship which sometimes gets covered up by all the genuine affection flowing back and forth.
  146. ‘I think there’s a better me inside your head than there is out here in the world. Is that why I make you so angry Karim? Because I fail to live up to the person you thought I’d turn out to be?’ ‘You turned out great.’
  147. mouths forgot to exhale
  148. I hit only his shadow, the blow passing through darkness and crumpling my fist against the wall.
  149. It was the kind of love that existed because it had always existed, because it didn’t know how not to exist.
  150. He shielded your eyes before his own.
  151. I love you more than I should.
  152. thumb and forefingers squeezing my wristbones.
  153. But how will you react when you see his face in the shadows for the first time?
  154. inrush
  155. cold, but bearable
  156. I’d allowed myself to be tossed about by the waves.
  157. Near sunset, he found me.
  158. Can’t do this without you.
  159. You’ll find us by the Indus
  160. That’s all.
  161. And you’re the same. The city is falling apart, and you’re the same.
  162. I tried to fathom that.
  163. that final, irrevocable choice
  164. How could I bear to think of what he was having to bear?
  165. It was just that I see you two and I know I’ll never have that.
  166. Go home.
  167. Once a spell is broken, pumpkins and rats appear.
  168. How had the laughter gone out of our lives?
  169. You’ll tell me when you’re ready.
  170. Is the map man lost?
  171. I released Karim’s hand just as he released mine.
  172. He wants perfection, so he’s choosing you.
  173. Then we both had to laugh at how much that made us cry.
  174. Who felt what for whom, and when?
  175. air pockets of loveliness just when your lungs can’t take anymore congestion or pollution or stifling newspaper headlines.
  176. I wanted to hit him and hug him all at once.
  177. I thought I was your distilled self.
  178. I wanted you to better than I am.
  179. ‘You doing OK?’ ‘No. You?’ ‘Not even close.’
  180. Remarkable people, my friends.
  181. The comfort of collective guilt
  182. honey over gravel
  183. Is love strongest when it holds on or lets go?
  184. The sound of my heartbeat
  185. I missed you more than a little.
  186. Come on, Rasputin. Come on. Save me from myself.
  187. Anywhere but Karachi
  188. I’m sorry if my imperfection makes life inconvenient. We can’t all be godlike.
  189. I do not want you pain sitting on my heart, boy. Keep it away.
  190. I’m sorry. I love you.
  191. Hello, loveliness.
  192. ‘So have you heard from my son?’ Every day. Every hour. A million conversations, none of them real.
  193. The truths we conceal don’t disappear.
  194. Is it possible to reclaim a name?
  195. I found I could no longer say to the world, there’s nothing I can do to change this, so why think too hard out it? I still didn’t think I there was anything I could do to change the situation, but now it felt like an abomination to pretend to live outside it.
  196. Now I’m laughing. Now the suffocation is gone from my lungs for the moment.
  197. It was exactly the sort of thing you’d expect unknown men to do in Karachi.
  198. Surely the world should be moving faster.
  199. Except they weren’t bullets. They were diamonds. No, Ra, they were frozen tears.
  200. It is in our blood.
  201. Your mood has always been so infectious, no antibodies in my blood to keep me immune from the way you feel.
  202. Am I trying to say my selfishness is a mark of love? How can selfishness and love coexist? Ask the city we live in.
  203. And yes, selfishness is the consequence of love.
  204. Karachi is intimate with strangers.
  205. To look at the waves and understand that when they break they start to reform.
  206. I can see you, out there, reading between the lines.
  207. Come home, stranger. Come home, untangler of my thoughts. Come home and tell me, what do I do with this breaking heart of mine?
  208. Don’t hang up.
  209. Write something about the city, the Karachi you know.
  210. ‘He never fell in love?’ ‘No. There was no falling.’
  211. Arabian Sea leans out to slap my face.
  212. and the globe hurls all its ocean at us,


after wave

after wave.

Follow me. I know the way.



  1. let me say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANKS A MILLION for posting this!! I read this last summers and found no time to revisit it…and this post just sooooo renewed the whole experience!! Its the best book that Kamila Shamsie has written!! and ohmegod!! i dont have words for how i feel over this!! and you sorta summarized it sooo beautifully!!!
    perhaps you could increase the font size…i read it in my inbox (and flagged it :P) but now that i see it here…the size it somewhat difficult to read….


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