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.

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