The Lost Jews of Karachi, a stage play by the students of Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture

- Pakistani

The Jewish community of Karachi, which now does not exist, has become an unspoken topic within our country (Pakistan). In the 1960’s, two thousand Jews left the multicultural city, Karachi for safety. The foundation year students of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture have chosen to represent a story about this hidden community.

The Lost Jews of Karachi is a 20 minutes play that is written and directed by Veera Rustomji and performed at the Alliance Francaise Karachi on Tuesday evening.  This play is set in the time from 1958 to the 1970s that tried to bring back memories of the Jews who lived in, and loved Karachi.

Before the performance, the director of the play (Veera Rustomji) told the audience that it was a fictional story based on real characters.

This fictional depiction was one of three original plays on the culture of Karachi which is performed at the Alliance Francaise de Karachi by the foundation year students of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

On the event page on Facebook there are ten students mentioned as hosts whose names are Sameen Javed, Tajwar Aziz, Muniba Rasheed, Maria Irfan, Amal Elahi, Sakina Karimi, Muhammad Mudassir, Sa’d Khorsid, Amber Arshad and Samah Akhund. The playwrights (authors) are Veera Rustomji and Rabia Ahmad.

The stage play, lost Jews of Karachi revolves around two Jewish sisters Abigail and Daniella. The play starts with the voice-over of Daniella (Amal Elahi) who talks about her family and tells that in the late 50s her father died leaving her and her sister Abigail (Muniba Rasheed) orphan.

Their mother went to Israel. Black and white pictures of a household are shown on the screen. The drama moves to the burial ground where their father David (Muddasir Sheikh) is being buried. The Uncle of two sisters Ezra (Saman Musharraf) and their aunt, Margaret (Tajwar Aziz) attend the funeral.

Then the play moves to the second scene where Daniella’s relationship with Malcolm (Sameen Javed) is being celebrated by Ezra, Margaret and Abigail. Their maid, Shireen (Rabia Ahmed), is performing non-Jewish character in the play.

The Jewish community is seen celebrating Chanukkah, the eight-day festival of lights, which remembers the dedication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Here the conversation focuses on president Yahya Khan and his policies. Yahya Khan participated in the festival.

The last scene appeared too dangerous for Jews community and they started leaving the city, Karachi. Daniella tries to convince Abigail to move out but she resists arguing that it is their inherited town and their father is buried here.

Daniella responds her that it became too difficult to stay here more. Finally they decided to leave the city, Karachi and at the railway station, the two sisters are separated. Abbey gets lost in the crowd.

It is really a praiseworthy effort of students. The full length drama can be presented on the play with a little bit progress as the script is written in a good manner.