Where to begin!

“Still going through those files, Grn? I thought you weren’t interested in those.”

“Oh, but Zlt, I am fascinated.”

“I do understand that to be a fine piece of fhlp-work on the cover…”

“No, no! It’s the people, Zlt, the people! They are almost a race in themselves. I cannot stop reading about them.”

“I must record this in the annals of the Old Files. Someone actually interested in reading them! We haven’t pulled those out since that investigation into how they ended up destroying the whole planet.”

“I’m not talking about the whole race, Zlt. Just a section of them, it is called a… a country, I suppose…”

“Eh? So what’s the name of this…country?”

“Ah, we must give it to the learned ones to decipher, it is beyond me. As far as I can make it, they never managed to live up to that name themselves.”

“What’s so fascinating about them, then?”

“What isn’t fascinating about them, Zlt! They had such a unique system; it was impossible for them to survive in it on their own. Most of these — what were they again? Yeah, countries, did most of the work themselves, but this one here, it was only sustained by the High One Himself, otherwise it couldn’t have existed.”

“This is interesting. Tell me more, Grn.”

“Well, they had a highly absorptive culture. They left the absorbing up to their little ones, and you know what kidlings are like, Zlt. They went and absorbed everything that glittered in frenzied gluttony, until even the grown ones went around in the delusion that the traditions so plentifully absorbed were their own.”

“They must have had very fascinating celebrations.”

“That was what I was reading about when you came up, Zlt. It was about a certain very interesting and singular event of these people.”

“What was it like?”

“It was an event of the spring. But what makes it even more fascinating is the remarkable ingenuity of these people. It was a characteristic of theirs that they blew up anything and everything into immensely great proportions. This spring-festival did not escape that rule.

During this spring festival they flowed out of their abodes in droves and into the workshops, where they vied against each other to take away the largest and the most costly of the paper birds. This is a trait that will manifest itself throughout the proceedings, Grn; their love to outstrip each other, and for finding newer and newer ways to do so. When they bought the flying tails of these paper birds, they bought rolls and rolls of them, and what is more, they bought the very same type of flying tail that their lordlings told them not to buy. Everywhere, on their picture-pieces and in their paper-pieces, it was said not to use those flying tails, but these people, they made them, and sold them, and bought them, and what is more, Grn! The very lordlings who had forbidden the use of these flying tails made use of them. The common folk, they had only to use the name of a lordling known to them, and the tail-inspectors did not confiscate the forbidden tails from them.”

“That is certainly a most singular way of proceeding, Grn.”

“That is not all! They set up enclosures in which to hold the festival, and told the people to fly their paper birds there and not on their rooftops. But…can you tell me what they did, Zlt?”

“They flew the paper birds from their rooftops!”

“Correct, my dear Zlt.”

“But did the tail-inspectors not catch them there?”

“Ah, it is the same way as with the forbidden flying tails, Grn.”

“I see now.”

“And when they flew the paper birds from their rooftops, they came in great numbers, and sent forth much noise and clamour from their ingenious wave-systems, so the people residing nearby may not sleep, and stay up all night to bask in the reflected glory of their superb flight.”

“Even the babies, Grn?”

“Even the babies! The people were not allowed to wrap their little kidlings in slumber on the night of that festival.”

“Surely they must have a great energy system, to drive all those wave-systems?”

“Ah, their energy system! I am coming to that. First let me tell you how they flew their paper birds.”

“Was that not a very simple task, Grn?”

“Oh, no, my dear Zlt.”

“Was it not a simple mounting of the paper bird on the ebb and flow of the air, and maneuvering it with the flying tail?”

“It was not the mechanics of the flight, but the previous principle that I mentioned; the
principle of outdoing each other. From each rooftop came forth larger and larger paper birds, and louder and louder clamour, and every time two paper birds’ flying tails crossed and cut, it was accompanied by the terrible war cry, ‘bo kata!'”

“A riveting scene, indeed.”

“Indeed, Zlt. What strikes me as curious was their willingness to lay life and limb on the line in pursuit of these majestic paper birds.”

“Was it not a harmless flying festival?”

“I am afraid not, Zlt. It was a matter of life and honour. The sight of a falling paper bird compelled the watcher to catch it before it struck the ground. It was a pact much honoured. “

“What a noble people, Grn.”

“Ah, that is not all. You asked about their energy system, no? It was taboo for the paper birds to be caught in the trails of this system, and many gave their lives to free a bird from the trails’ snare. Why, the festival was marked by a shutting down of this energy system, due to the snapping of a trail here or there.”

“Were the flying tails strong enough to cut the energy trails?”

“They were unkind to those who came in the way.”

“Ack! Why would they use flying tails of such horrific description?”

“That, Zlt, is beyond me. These flying tails were forbidden by the lordlings.”

“Now I see why.”

“But the people did not see. Pity.”

“But wait, Grn. Were they not told in their picture-pieces and their paper-pieces…?”

“It is a country also blind, Zlt, but that is another story.”

“One I would love to hear. Have you read enough of the spring festival?”

“There is not much more. They squabbled and speculated much over it, as they did over everything else, but they did not change anything. Every year they raised their masts to catch the winds of change, but those winds instead served to drive their paper birds higher and higher year after year.”

“A most singular nation, indeed.”


“In fact, I am beginning to look beyond the fhlp-work of these files. I must endeavour to read more about them. The happenings which they record are fascinating. Enough to keep one busy one for all eternity.”

“And since we’re three-twelfths into that, it won’t matter spending one-twelfth of eternity studying these files, no?”

“The question is only, where to begin?”

“Where indeed.”



Originally published in Us Magazine, The News, on February 23, 2007.

Link to original: http://jang.com.pk/thenews/feb2007-weekly/us-23-02-2007/p22.htm#1

She is a girl!

Nobody is spared! As for the ones who go around with their heads uncovered and their arms bare, they’re asking to be ogled at. Why else would they dress like that? You know, some of those fashionable (read: vulgar) girls are actually happy that we pay attention to them! Well, some aren’t, but who cares? And why should we leave those religious ones alone either, they’re girls after all, and aren’t all the girls in the world supposed to be the same? That’s what TV and mags teach us, and from that we rate every girl’s mindset. Why not? After all, all females are basically just eye candy, right? They’re made to be stared at. If they don’t want to be stared at, they shouldn’t get out of their homes.

Eh-what’s that you said? Modesty? Oh, yeah, that is something the teacher was babbling about in the Islamiat class – who needs it? Why should we be modest; nobody else is! If everyone else is getting their share of the eye candy, why shouldn’t we?

Go preach to them! It’s basic animal instinct, you see. It’s a guy thing, you wouldn’t understand. It’s a basic male trait to ogle every female in sight. Why shouldn’t we indulge in some harmless sightseeing? It’s harmless; we don’t do anything, we just look.

When we drool at magazine pictures, online images, or real females in the street, we aren’t doing anything, or harming anyone. Oh, we’re just harming ourselves, we know that, but we’re already so morally degenerated that it doesn’t matter! It’s not our fault, our parents have been exposing us to cable and movies with females portrayed that way since we were little.

They thought we wouldn’t be affected, so they carelessly exposed us to all sorts of media, and then they gave us a loose leash on the Internet, and then we made these great new cool pals we couldn’t possibly leave when we saw they were degenerating. And then we were introduced to the glorious world of-er-sightseeing. You can get those CDs anywhere, the storekeepers themselves recommend the best when you ask them. They sell it to us, and nobody stops us! (How can we be expected to stop ourselves when the temptation is so great? We are slaves to temptation, we have absolutely no self-control or awareness of moral values!). And then, when our mindset is completely ruined and we start applying it to our daily lives by indulging in some harmless eyeballing, catcalling and teasing the ones that take our fancy, they ask us if we don’t have any mothers and sisters at home! Well, of course we do! It’s just that it never occurred to us that the females we ogle are sisters and daughters too. Besides, our own sisters run scot-free in minimal clothing and our parents never say anything to them, so that statement is nullified. What the heck, our own mothers stay in vogue and keep shortening and tightening their dresses. Hey, our fathers like to see our mothers that way.

Besides, sightseeing is a widely recognized cool-crowd symbol. We can’t bear not being part of the cool crowd! We don’t want to be called ‘maulvis’; it’s not cool to be thought of as religious. Tell the models to stop modelling, tell the fashionmongers to stop being fashionable, tell the World Wide Web to turn kid-friendly, tell the whole world to reform, only then will we stop staring! We have totally no control over our so-called animal instincts; we cannot inhibit our natural tendencies, so why are you asking us to lower our eyes? It’s raw male passion, I tell you, something beyond your perception! You can’t straighten a tree once it’s grown crooked; you have to train the tender shoot. Our natures can’t be changed, no way. We have one-track minds; it’s evident in everything we do.

There’s no such thing as moral awareness or moral revamping, no siree. Now, where did I put that last issue of GQ…?