Art Lootmar II – T2f
Art Lootmar II, happened on the 18th and 19th of June 2011. It was an event I was looking forward to. Had always been part of T2f(The second floor) virtually so was excited to be part of this exhibit amongst 12 other young artists. I was participating with my work from Ghazal Pirzada Creeative Studios. There was Anam Haleem(a friend and brother), Friends from Kaghaz kay karnamay, Mahin and the Ayesha’s from the Indus clan and a few others part of the troop. The first day went by great! With friends, family, colleagues and other artists from the community visiting, the highlight was Haider Ali’s live demo on his Truck Art paintings. The evening went by fast and I left for home happy and very satisfied with my participation at the Art Lootmar II at T2f.
The second day which was a Sunday, the show was open from 12pm onwards. We(me, S and Anam) decided to go in the evening. We reached around 6 and were to leave around 9 after pack up. It was the last day for the exhibit. We sat and chatted. T2f has a very comfortable and casual setting to it. We sat on the floor,resting on the bricked pillars, clicking pictures. I got a message from R(another brother) that if we were at T2f and that he was dropping by. It was around 8 when he and 2 friends walked in. After greeting them, they saw my work… Anams work and were now on a round to check other artists work while S and A went out for a smoke break saying.. we’ll be back in a bit.
With all the good, came in the bad.
I clicked a picture of R and Y, while they checked out Uth Oye! shirts and asked which one was better. The next thing I hear is this armed guy telling me ‘aap camera wali madam, neechay hojain’. My first thought, who the hell are YOU!? then I was pulled away by someone and I heard someone saying ‘these are thieves, sit down’ :!
There were around 30 or so people at T2f that instance including artists and the staff at T2f. We were all asked to sit down in a corner. Apparently there were 4 men and out of which 2 were armed. Where I sat, the pillar was right in front of me so all I saw was 1 guy pointing his gun on us on and off asking for everything we had. Phones, wallets, watches etc. Most people had their laptops and DSLR’s with them like I had mine in my hand. When I sat down, a zillion thoughts came to my mind while I prayed Ayat-ul-kursi. I started going numb, arms raised and my heart pounding as if it were about to burst.
I dont know how my reflexes worked, with my hands trembling I covered my DSLR with a few magazines that were placed on a low table right in front of me, put my hand in my kurta pocket and switched my phone off. We were told to look to the floor and NOT look up and if any of us played smart, they’d kill us. There was silence and a thumping heart beat and my own lips whispering Ayat-ul-kursi. While I had my eyes to the floor, I saw a laptop right in front of me. I picked a few more magazines and covered the laptop too, a zillion thoughts rushing through the brain. I look up, I see Anam to my left. We share a glance and a feeling of helplessness. Right ahead I see R, he was trembling and reciting too. I look at Anam again and I whisper, ‘S and A are outside’. I kept praying that they dont come in since the looters were all set to leave, after collecting everybody’s valuables. I look towards the door and I see them walking in. S looked at me and figured what was happening, and there! Their phone and wallets gone too.
7 minutes seemed like 80 years. The guy held his gun up and asked all of us to lie down, heads down and said, if anyone of us tried to move before they left they’ll shoot us. The moment froze. I heard the door close and their was chaos. Everyone got up, helping others around, hugging each other, Thanking Allah Mian that all of us were left unharmed, after all we were all in an enclosed space. Anything could have happened, like anything!!! We ALL sure must have done at least some good in life that Allah Mian saved us *Shukar Alhamdolillah* I looked for my bag which was placed at the bookshelf behind my stall. I found it on the floor, empty. My wallet was gone with cash and bank cards etc. Most of all, we all were alive. The next thing was to leave the venue and get home straight since there was no cash with anyone to even have food.
My hearts still thumping, it was a traumatic experience. What killed me and everyone else was the feeling of being helpless. The guys were armed. Nothing is larger than life itself. Alhamdolillah, I saved my camera and phone but lost the feeling of freedom that was left in me. I’m recovering fast from the shock, because of the the other 29 people who were held hostage with me. We share a bond that none other would understand. May Allah Mian protect us all and that these muggers payback a price unimaginable. Ameen.
Thanks to Sabeen Mahmud, Rabeea Arif and Mariam Bilgrami for all their support during the 2 day event and afterwards. Love to T2f!