Monday, August 30, 2010

the feudals

Two gunmen slipped out through the high, wrought-iron gates that protected the mansion within and headed towards my car.


I parked behind the dozen odd luxury cars already present and was greeted by barks and howls. Caged and crazed, the German Shepherds served as a second line of defense, and as menacing receptionists forewarning against any funny business. Not only was I keen on not being funny, I wanted to leave as soon as possible.

I was intercepted by the elder son at the manor entrance who, after giving me a quick glance, nodded dismissively and went on his way. I was glad, for I was busy making note of the slender, ornate columns that stood outside the door- grandiose, and borderline gaudy.

I was here to defend a friend, I reminded myself. A friend who listened patiently whenever we argued, a trait virtually nonexistent in my generation of the feudal families; raised voices leading to threats of force were the norm.

Going over the conversation I had had with the kinder feudal, I couldn't really remember much of it, except that I had put my best cards forward in refuting his notion of a supreme deity. He had listened, too carefully it seemed for he had then broached the subject with his closest friend. In this case, a friend's friend was not necessarily a friend.

As expected, I was assaulted with insults and jeers as soon as I entered the room, mostly pertaining to my beliefs, or lack thereof. I sighed a heavy sigh and went to work.

After a good hour of yelling and my best attempts at diplomacy, I had managed to maneuver the discussion to a relatively calmer, and in my opinion, more relevant topic area. Using a cocktail of schoolboy charm and flattery, I had gotten the ill-tempered youth to dive into an area of his expertise; while I was a mere commentator in the dark realm of politics, the domain thereof was his birthright. I was no match for his innate political acumen.

I wanted all I could get. After all, I had given up dinner with fairer company to be there. I was eager, therefore to know where my ideals for a secular Pakistan fit in with the leadership of the morrow. I spoke hurriedly of progress and modernity, of Turkey and of the future. I had gotten my comrade's attention.

I was disappointed, however when he offered no conclusive insight into my queries. Considering that we had previously argued over the validity of his faith, it was hard for him to accept that abandoning our quasi-theocratic state of affairs, or affairs of state could be the way forward.

Throughout, in his traditional shalwar kameez ensemble, he had made statements on his unshakable faith but was ill at ease when forced to balance his faith, political agendas and the habits he had picked up studying in Britain.

And so, staring definitively at the bottles of premium scotch on the mantel, I left.

This kid was just as confused as I was.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

of cricket and corruption

One thing after the other, and I'm suddenly taking my mother's words seriously:

It's the wrath of God, love. We are all guilty.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

just another article on the lynching

Any self-respecting, 'humane' individual would respond to the Sialkot lynching videos with a variant of the following phrase:

'I hope all those merciless attackers- those murderers- die a horrible death'.

Ironic, isn't it?

But if you still don't see it:

It would appear that our natural reaction to what befell Mughees and Muneeb would be one of anger; uncontrollable anger so potent that one's insides weaken. Fury so vivid that the red pales to, if not completely white, then to a very light gray.

It is this gray that frightens me. Sure, my stomach felt a lurch, but it possibly won't at the copy-cat lynchings in say, Sheikhupura. It is highly probable that my curiosity is satisfied, and that my thirst to know and see humanity's latest lowest is quenched for a long, long time.

I will not google the next uncensored lynching video.

It is beyond doubt that our nation is diseased. To this we all seem to agree, but differ on our diagnoses. Though young in my years, I too learnt of said disease early in life when my first love moved away.

We believed, at 15 years of age that we would stay together forever. This childish notion was brought on by a combination of excess emotion and ignorance. While the former can be explained away through the teenage hormones, the ignorance was in the assumption that we would stay the same people, that we would feel the same way.

Through the gradual decay of our castles in the sky in the face of circumstances we could not help, we changed. While one grew stronger, the other weakened. Lo and Behold, an excruciating, unexplainable divide, bridged only by a misty indifference.

We are not a whole, you say?

Understanding that most of us don't speak in colors or relate well to seemingly trivial narratives, a simplification is in order.

I ask you this: you would hang all those who laid a brick, stick or bout to the brothers from Sialkot, but for what crime?

They were burning 'witches' back in the day, an offensive launched by the church. As with any institution, abuse is a natural consequence. Justice is a term thrown around.

As with any institution, ignorance is the most effective opiate for its army. And what better way to propagate ignorance than by suppressing rounded education, and allowing by means of filters and censorship only a particular doctrine to be spread and taught?

Everyone fasts in this country. If you don't fast people look at you with contempt and even disgust. But if you're in Sialkot and you're fasting, you're welcome to join the rest of the devout in beating two teenagers to a gruesome death.