By Akhtar Soomro
Arriving for my trip to Edhi Home, I met an elderly man working as a driver sitting outside the building. He assisted me in entering the building and introduced me to the lady in charge. She welcomed me and let me in by crossing an iron grill gate separating this place from the outer world.
As I walked through the huge corridor housing a row of rooms, each consisting of a bath, windows, square holes in the roofs for ventilation and an iron bar door. In these rooms resided elderly women, victims of mental illness, children missing from their families and victims of domestic violence.
Beams of sunlight fell on walls adorned with graffiti drawn by the patients – depictions of amulet charms, inspirational quotes, a drawing of three girls holding flowers in their hands, a peacock, even a short letter requesting the reader to inform someone of something.
From distant rooms came echoes of children reciting the Koran, a voice of a woman hypnotically praying to God, dispersed sounds of murmuring, humming, wailing, crying mixed-up with giggling, all fractured by the noise of iron door hinges and grinding wheelchairs.
While passing through the halls I was stopped by many young and elderly women, their chins up to stare into me with their sad eyes and murmuring lips, wanting me to listen to them, and their tale of how they came to this.