Apologies. I’m back. My lakte-jigars, my sweet-hearts; please give me two plates of forgiveness, and one long, never-ending fake nalmot, quickly-quickly.
You might want to know why I disappeared suddenly without saying goodbye to you, just like I had many years ago, one dark scary night in January 1990, without saying goodbye to my friend Polo Mir and the many little-mittle Boba’as whose bus-kiraya, Polo Mir would pay, sometimes after borrowing money from me, in the hope that they would agree to have mango-shake with him, at Little Hut next to Zero Bridge.
I had decided to retire. I got tired of writing. Besides, the business of Mukhbiri is very tiring, and the title of Mukhbir-e-Chief can be dangerous. Yes, you do make a few friends, but you also end up making many foes.
These foes I was warned, could make foigras out of me after force-feeding lead to me.
Who wants to end up as a sad-looking, 2-column obituary ad at the bottom of the 4rth page of Kashmir Images?
(My will clearly says “obituary ad only in English newspaper,” so that Kanvaent girlaz can read, if they can read, that is…and at least say “Hawww.”)
But imagine, if Silly Prah Barfani declares a hartal that day, and the newspaper can’t be distributed, and ergo: Vanderbilt Boba’a won’t even get to know.
Alas! HatteyWaaii! I will die unsung, unmourned, and what’s worse,unHawwed.
Maybe some newspaper copies with my obituary ad will be reborn as a lifafa for the nadurmonje wala outside the shrine of my beloved friend and benefactor in Sonawar: my patron saint SaeedSaeeb, who always ensured that I passed the wretched Maths exam, and still helps me pass the every-day exams of life, by throwing in a few grace marks.
Imagine, the Michelin Star-rated nadur-monje chef wiping his grubby hands on a once-white-now-dark- brown-salwar: packing his artery-choking, fried-in-radioactive-oil lotus-stems in to the lifafa, 7nano-seconds after he has blown his nose with a loud “shroon.”
What if this lifafa with my mug-shot on lands up on I’seen Money Lick’s plate, as a snack, while he is having a tot of Angezi medicine in the evening?
This might cause him acidity.
(I’m told reading my piffle does indeed cause him a little-mittle heart-burn.)
When he stares at my mug shot in the obituary ad, and after some one translates the text for his benefit, (“Ajoy’a, Mukhbir-e-Chief, RIP…”)it might occur to him that he can’t send his men to find me and fix me (you can’t kill a dead hangul twice-over, you can only saw his or her body into two pieces on a band saw: but that’s so uncool, so “tehreek-before-plastic-surgery-by-a-left-leaning-surgeon,” and so done-to-death in the early 90s!)while I’m getting a shave and soaking in freshly-baked gossip at the ultra-chic “Hair Force Beauty Salon,” that sprung up some years ago near the site of a shootout in Rawal Pora, in the Kashmiri Year Of The Red Murderous Sky, when the waters of the Kheer Bhawani shrine also turned a mournful shade of crimson, like the colour of the blood of the hanguls,who were left to bleed to death in the casualty-wards of hospitals that year, by some doctors who were following “instructions” willingly or unwillingly: the Hippocratic Oath forgotten in the euphoria and delusion, that some new dawn that is around the corner, unmindful of the fact that a crimson night will only lead to a crimson dawn.
Yes, Kheer Bhawani or Tullmull: the same shrine where those who hunted the hanguls, now descend, camera-men in tow, to dispense haputh-istyle, bear-hugs to the survivors-- terrified, silent, stoic --kith and kin of people who Hitta Fart’ade would gleefully shoot with a Glock, and just in case you have a memory block, His Serene Fart’ardeness, Hitta, was the right hand of I’seen Money Lick, once upon a time.
Hitta is no longer the right hand because I’m told that the afore-mentioned Money Lick needs no helping hand: both his hands are like a nuclear-powered cash-counting machine; he furiously counts currency notes that lie hidden in hi-tech lockers with digital keypads, hidden discreetly in cavities dug in walls, behind pictures of martyrs whose facial expressions tell us they had no idea what they killed for, or died for.
When Money Lick is done with counting money, he keeps washing his hands in the middle of the night with imported super-scented Sabun-chayte bought by Parjai Ji from the la la land: I’m told the smell of blood comes back to haunt and torment him every night after he is done with counting money and reciting Faiz Ahmed Faiz on Whats App to those badnaseebs, those unfortunate few, who are smitten with all the sacrifices he has made for the Quam.
(Noora, the poor care-taker of the poet’s grave-yard in Model Town, Lahore, Whats Apped me the other day, telling me that Faiz Sahib turns in his grave every time, Money Lick and other Whats AppWahabis (WAW) defile his poetry, by the odious act of reciting it.)
Who is scared of I’Seen Money Lick sending his goons to fix me at the Hair Force Beauty Salon in Rawalpora?
I give a flying fata-wangun! A little-mittle flying baby-brinjal!
Not fake bravado, Amigo, just cold reality. The honorable Money Lick doesn’t do anything till some one pays him for services rendered. Sometimes he doesn’t do what you’ve paid him to do, even after the RTGS has hit his bank.
(Ask Mr. D. Latte.)
The other day his dentist asked him to brush his teeth twice every day. Pat came Money Lick’s reply, “Doctor Sahib, how much will you pay me?”
Wipe that nervous grin off your silly face.
The truth is that I stopped writing because I got fed up of all you miserable Khalaks, who are all gung-ho in the inbox, (“Ajoy’a, please keep writing, wallah, more zore to your kalam!) and all silent, “schope karse” and “mye-kya, be karr dam!” in the real world.
I have not “taken your chatti,” or some kind of contract to be your battering ram, hitting my head against rock-solid walls in Hyderpura, lined with Attock Cement from “Apour” (No kidding, the slogan on their website is: Building Concrete Relationships!) while you wring your hands, and say, “Come, come, tomorrow Chutti, strike against Kashmiri Pandit colony, pakh se baya, birathar; let’s go to Gulmarg early-early morning.”
Instead of packing your picnic-hampers for Gulmarg, can’t all you escapists get up one day and rise against these jokers and tell them to stick to counting money and let you live your lives?
I’m not asking you get out and mobilize the proverbial 40-lac Kashmiris who are on both sides, from the days of Shiekh Sahib and Bakshi Sahib.
I’m just talking about a few of you, a few dozen or a few hundred, or a few thousand.
Can’t you assemble at Sherwani Road next Sunday and say enough is enough? Don’t you want plurality back in your world, and in your lives?
Don’t you want religion to be a personal choice between a man and his maker? Don’t you want to restore secular space in schools, colleges and universities? Don’t you think this competitive “I am a better Muslim than him” or “she’s not a good Muslim,” is a worn-out archaic idea that has no place in today’s world?
I know of a really fine teacher in Srinagar, a really fine secular human being, who was hounded out of a school, because a very influential man who I’m told gets funding from both “Apoor” and “Yapoor” (yes, yes, Sir Ji, from both “there” and “here”) started a campaign that she is not a “good Muslim.”
Vosh. A deep, heart-felt super-sad sigh.
Vanderbilt Boba’a has her own theory about my debilitating writer’s block. She feels that “somebody who has got jalansy of me” went to the famous Moulvi Thok-Jode (literally, “Spit-magic”) in Zadibal and paid him top dollar to cast a dangerous, super-sticky Sehra spell on me.
According to Vanderbilt Boba’a, this caused me to think obsessively about eating marchwangun-korma at Ahdoos, every-time I sat down to write.
But since Vanderbilt Boba’a is keen that I wear a Sehra and gallop all the way to her Charas-Badshah Abbu’s palatial house (I can’t tell you the location for “sikurty” reasons.) for her fifth shot at animal-husbandry; she went to meet Moulvi Tee Tee (Thesis Choor i.e Thesis Thief) to ask for help.
Moulvi Tee Tee confessed his inability to help in the matter since his taveez-craft has a low rate of success with irreverent agnostics.
She then begged him to at least give her a taveez that would help her convince me to become Lamb no.5 in her animal-husbandry farm.
“You don’t need any taveez for this ”said Maulvi Tee Tee with a shy smile, “just call your neighbourhood Police Station, and ask them to House Arrest your struggling writer-shiter.”
He then winked and said, “Torey fikre?”
The point is, do you get it?
This piece is a figment of the writer’s imagination: any resemblance or allusion to any person; living or dead, dishonest or double-dealing, self-serving or opportunistic: is unintentional and unintended.
Ajoy Bhan is a communications consultant based in Delhi. He is a Kashmiri and insists that he is not a Kashmir expert. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org