LazyEye

Darr Lagey toh Gaanaa Gaa

That word cannot be uttered. It should not find mention. That would be a violation of things, don’t you think? It will mean a violation of who we are, we the sanskaari peepuls. It is that four-letter word beginning with an F after all. We don’t use such words, naa-naa, tauba-tauba, it is not in our culture to do so. It is a sign of these lowly times and lowered standards that more and more people use that word, and it is heard more and more. But that’s not good, that cannot be allowed, that must be frowned upon and discouraged. Why? What’s the need to use that four-letter word beginning with an F? Faltu mein.

Four-letter words beginning with F tend to be unsavoury. When art begins with an F, for instance. Imagine. Would you like it used around you? Or worse, enacted? Nahin naa? Thought so. I mean that word. Being spoken out aloud all around all the time. It’s irksome and troublesome in the very least. I mean man is a social animal. And you will not find it said too often, but so is woman. And to think of that word being voiced all the time. It is not merely violative of social norms, it can be destructive of society. Too much of it being felt and spoke about can be ruinous. Of all of us. Be gone! That four-letter word beginning with F which is not the same word as art beginning with F. Minor thanks to God for that.

But no, it will not go away. Hector as you might, motion it banished, however much you may. The truth of the matter is that too many of us folks are all the time feeling that word and are talking about it all the time. And all of that has led to a deteriorated atmosphere. Things are not good. They cannot be good if everyone is sensing that word and talking about it and expressing apprehension about what that word, or the mere sense of its presence all around us, could do to us. I mean, come to think of it, it is no ordinary word. It is capable, oftentimes, of giving us the shakes and the shivers. And it most definitely impacts others. It is such a word. The very mention of it is bound to attract attention; and as I said it is getting mentioned all the time all over the place, so you can well imagine.

It has turned so rampant that it has attracted notice at the very highest levels. Needless to say, such rampant and unbridled mention of it has also rankled elements that the highest levels are comprised of. F X X X? You mean F Triple X? Nonsense. Under us? Why is this unholy chorus being sounded all around? Whose deed is this, whose conspiracy? Surely this is a plot to defame us. Surely this is anti-national. Sing the national anthem, stand up all, and sing. Now! Else you will be deemed part of this dark hatching of ominous things. Sing! Or you shall be pointed in the direction of Bakistan. F X X X? Here? You are feeling like F X X X? Go check out how things are in Bakistan, how F X X X works there! They don’t know the very F of F X X X!

These good-for-nothing traitors! How dare they even make a mention of such a word, abrogate it! There is no F X X X. Not on our watch. It cannot happen, we are a sanskaari people, we do not believe in F X X X, nor use it. But are people feeling it? Are they talking about it? Let them come to me. Send them to me and I shall take care of them, so has roared NumberToo, who is second only to the HighestEchelon in the land. Ironic, isn’t it, that most folks say they are feeling the four-letter word beginning with an F mainly on account of NumberToo. It is he who inspires all the F X X X. And he says there is no such thing, or shouldn’t be. Hee-Hee-Hee-It-Isn’t-Faannee!! He’s calling, he’s motioning, he’s saying the real meaning of F X X X he will reveal to you in your ear, go closer. And he will reveal to you the real meaning of the four-letter word beginning with F.

I’ve heard it being often used
And we’ll hear it again, my Dear
It comes from things being abused
The word you’re looking for is Fear.

LazyEye

Actually, the word for it is Hass

Go figure. Please. At your own will, in your own time. There is such a thing: Hass. Should you look around and you have forsaken your blinkers before beginning to look around, you will see them. And then you’ll have figured.

Meantime, this: Have you wondered that there might lie some good somewhere even in affairs that we have slapped with all that we consider undesirable and unworthy? For example, and by way of currency and happenstance, this business of HorseTrading. What a terrible thing it is, this business of HorseTrading! HorseTrading, chhi, chhi, gandi baat!

But think about that again, go on give it a thought, an angular one if you please. What do you do with horses if not trade them? Well, of course, a few other things as well — you rear them, you ride them, you race them. But upon all of that, you trade them, or the best among them at any rate. It is probably fair to venture that history would not have moved — or would have crawled along, akin to the pace of snails — if horses had not been traded.

History has moved longer on horses than it has on later, and arguably swifter, modes of travel. And for history to have consistently moved along at a clip it was essential that horses were reared, ridden, often raced, and eventually traded.

It’s what made the movement of Man and his caravans possible. It’s what made empires and felled others. Horses were how loves met and loves were separated. Horses were how distances were made and distances unmade. Horses were how discovery was made, and mysteries unmade. Horses were how this planet came to know this planet. Horses were how notables ascended thrones, and, on occasion, even the Heavens. And to give HorseTrading such a poor name. Imagine a world without HorseTrading. Where would we even be without HorseTrading?

The term most likely originated — where else — in the womb of all manner of enterprise and licence, America, which was not yet quite the United States. Not that it can be called that now, especially with BlondieDuck in saddle. Anyhow, it was in the early 19th century perhaps that horses began to be traded wholesale, and often, in unscrupulous fashion. Horse trading pits were also bins of other kinds of vice, such that the trade became associated with roughnecks and rough practice.

But, not being terribly familiar with the ways of HorseTrading, I am constrained to quote from the Bible of our times, aka Google: “As standards for ethical business declined in the United States in the Gilded Age, the activities of horse traders came increasingly to be seen as the natural and, in part, desirable product of a competitive market rather than as symptoms of moral depravity.” In a 1893 New York Times editorial criticising a proposed law to make it illegal for a newspaper to falsely state its circulation figures, the author declared that “if the lying were stopped by law, the business of horse trading would come to an end, and the country taverns and groceries in the Winter season would be deprived even of the limited eventfulness which they now enjoy.”

What joy, this business of HorseTrading!

Except, what are sold as horses, or bought, aren’t always horses. Go figure.

Was a fellow once who chased a skirt

Thinking it worn by a lass;

Then chasing he went to dirt

And discovered it was only a Hass.

LazyEye

And then there are questions to ask

What should we do? About what should we do what we should do? How should we do what we should do? Is there a way we should do what we should do? Is there anything to be done? Can anything be done?

Is it necessary to ask such questions?
Is it time to ask such questions?
But what questions?
Do we know how to frame those questions?
Do we know who to ask those questions of?
Is there anybody taking questions?
Is there someone who will ask?

How have we come to be in the volatile swirl of so many questions? Where were these questions all this while? What was keeping them from turning in a twister around us?

Why are there so many questions?
Why is there such a noise of questions?
Why is there such silence?
What brought us to such decibels of noise and such depths of silence?
What are we doing betwixt? Betwixt noise and silence? Is that a question to ask?
How did we arrive here? Is that a question to ask? Is it right to wonder about right questions and wrong questions?
Must we ponder on questions that need asking or must we just let all of that be?
Must we just keep tobogganing on and on, down, down, down, plunge, plunge, plunge, into the perilously approaching thicket, crashing into which will take us apart bone by splintered bone, sinew by torn sinew? Must we just stop worrying about everything and stop worrying about how we will soon be torn asunder?

But will asking questions help?
But is not asking those questions an option?
What questions, though?
Like what have we become? Like what have we made of ourselves? Like what have we now revealed of ourselves?

Is it right and opportune to ponder those questions? Are you getting my drift? Am I right to be wondering in this rambling sort of fashion? About whether to ask them at all? Or not to ask them? Am I getting through? Am I even sounding as if I have something to say?

Of course there are questions to ask but which ones? Why have we become so shaken and stirred about normal questions? Like: Who are we? What do we want? Where are we going? Who is taking us there? Where is there? Is it the right there or the wrong there? Or is it just a there? Where are we? Where have we been brought? Where have we brought ourselves? Where have we allowed ourselves to be brought by those who are doing the bringing? Are we happy that we have been brought here? Are we happy that this has been done to us? Is this really for our own good? Who are you? Why did you do this?

Are answers to be expected to questions we ask? As in does every question necessarily fetch an answer? Should it? Are we right to expect questions will fetch answers? Or can questions be asked and allowed to float in waves and peter out, like wind funnelling out of a balloon and the balloon becoming not a balloon at all but a sorry shrunken vestige of itself?

If agar

But magar

What maaney kya?

Bolo what maaney kya?

LazyEye

The Small Book of Maalik’s Wisdoms

People call me Maalik, believe you me, they do; Maalik is probably also my name but I cannot be sure. I will have to ask. For in reality I am not Maalik, the reality is something else. The reality is always something else. Reality is a surreally changeable and capricious thing, especially in unreal places such as the one I boss over. It is for good reason they call me Maalik, although that reason may well be that Maalik is my given name. Or so I have been made to believe. I am not my own being, I am not allowed that, although you know very well I am allowed many other things. You suffer the consequences my allowances, so you should know. To me are attributed things that I do not know I have done. I am the one who signs on to all the things that we tell you are unutterably good for you. Look how many garrisons of olive and of green, or very often a bespoke amalgam of the two, I have marshalled in the service of your safety and security. Look how much I have saved for you in fuel, and in telephone and and Internet bills. And in your breakfast and butcher bills. No butcher, no meat, no money spent. See? No shops, no expenditure. See? No movement, and you all have the rare gift of quality time together as family. No news, but that’s proverbially good news. See? On the contrary. On the contrary, because we must consider contrary things and prospects all the time, especially in an unreal and unlikely place such as this, contrary truths are also true. For instance, the less you are able to speak to each other, the less the pain you cause each other. When we talk, we mostly cause each other pain, or envy, or anger, or affront, or irritation, or antipathy and all manner of other pathys, would you not agree? So the less you are able to speak to each other, the more peaceful you are. Imagine not having to speak to your wife (or husband), by law decreed. Bliss. Wouldn’t you agree?

To those who do not agree, I have this to say, firmly and unequivocally: I am the appointed tyranny of the unelected. Do not even dare those things that you propose to dare me with.

Pachtaaogey, bahooot pachhtaaogey.

But misunderstand me you should not. You may not. I am your Maalik, but I am not my own Maalik. You see? There’s a problem. I resemble, I sometimes think in my dimmer moments, the logo of a certain gramophone company. You do not know gramophones, I know. You may not recall that logo, I grant you that. But to cut a not so long story very short, it was about making a metaphor of a mammal and a far more manipulative mammal called man. The lesser mammal being a dog. A loyal mammal, given the occasional bone, and the occasional bashing. I am often reminded that I am a close resemblance to that mammal. I am unstintingly loyal. I bark. When commanded, I bite. But look at me. I am so loveable, ain’t I? Until you let me sniff in you something sinister. Until I am commanded to smell something sinister. And thereafter commanded to bite. Then I bite. And I bleed. And I maim. And I will not stop short of killing, brutally, tearing with my fangs whatever it is that I have been commanded to tear asunder. But it will all be for your own good. So have I been commanded to perceive the situation I am in. So have my masters decreed my mandate. I will whisper to your dying declaration that everything is well. I will admonish your wounds and ordain them obliterated because everything is normal. I will clap my paws on your clamour of protesting because what you call protest is propaganda. I am your Maalik, you see. But in truth I am really a mule, and not even a dog.

Behind my toothy smile

I keep secure my tongue

For it allows me to lie a mile

With all my heart and lung.

LazyEye

And the stories we are telling

But we are not telling them. Or we are telling them and we cannot ourselves hear the stories we are telling. The wind blows away our words and makes an indecipherable howl of them. Then it drags those howls so high into rarefied thinness they cannot breathe anymore and fall upon the earth in a shower of wheezing.

We can make neither head nor tail nor midriff of our stories because nobody has a notion what shred came to drop where and where the other tattered pieces of such wanton obliteration might be. Someone ventured out. Someone else did not return. Someone waged an argument. Someone else was silenced. Someone chucked a stone. Someone else lost an eye. Someone put out the home lights. Someone else set it ablaze. Someone lit up a lie. Someone else paid for the truth. Someone crossed the line. Someone else crossed over. Someone committed treachery. Someone else was proclaimed traitor. Someone arrived to hug. Someone put a dagger in the back. Someone cried blood! But someone else lay bleeding. Someone wept at the graveside. Someone else was digging graves for the weeping. Someone cried out “Martyr!” Someone else said “Maar, aur Maar!” Someone asked how many more must die. Someone else said bring on the dead. Someone counselled peace. Someone else heard panic. Someone said it’s done. Someone else said it’s just begun. 

We gathered for prayer, and we all began to cry. We had come for solace, and we knew at once we were all hapless. We are all Someone. We are all someone else. We are tangled. We are enmeshed. Toppled upon each other, unable to recognise ourselves, unable to discern our body parts from parts of other bodies, unable to recognise whose soul it is that is soughing here. But do we even have souls? 

We qualified for this stage that rivets the world by having our souls leached. We are the opera of extinguished souls. We call ourselves Concertina. We mime and motion to the tinkling of empty bottles of booze, those bottles they glugged down their gullets and put out to hang on the wires so when something moved to violate the realm of the wires, they’d tinkle and that tinkling would signal alarm. When the bottles begin to sound is when we resume our ballet of the bound. “Kaun hai? Who’s there!!” “The Concertina Troupe, mai-baap, Sir, Karnail, Jarnail, jo bhi aap bolenge,Sir! We came to tell the story we cannot tell, will you please, manaa to mat karogey, Sirji, we won’t make a sound, this is a silent story, we don’t have a voice, though we still have a story. It’s not like we can hear our story, but we still have a story. You know, dikkat mat hai aapko? Here’s our new one. 

We slept, as in we really could, you know, amidst all of this. Chemists help. Prescriptions help. We ate our prescriptions and slept. And we dreamt we had turned the shape of phones, the old ones, receivers that would curl like embryos and sit on the ringer-dialler box. Remember? So we all became phones. And because we were all phones, we were dead, and because we were curled by design, we looked like dead embryos. And then we were told, get up, all is fine, and so we rose and began to ring and dance and the moment we looked like we were happy someone shot us. And we all fell dead on the Concertina and it began to chime again like an orchestra, or no, opera, or whatever… we don’t know, we are confused too, and dead too…”

When it has turned all too gory

And lives have dripped or flown

Will only then be told our story

As triumph of He on the throne? 

LazyEye

Let me tell you bedtime stories

But first you must listen to me. And do as I say. First you must get into bed. It’s only in bed that bedtime stories may be told. Where do you think you’re going? Don’t you know it’s dark outside? Did that sound like the lines of a song from somewhere? Or did it only sound dire? Dire is what I want to sound. And sounding dire would be right too. In fact I will go a step, or let’s say a word, further and pronounce it out so there is no confusion left about what the situation is that we are in. Dire Straits. Understand, do you? Don’t jump about the place thinking it’s all resham ki dori hunky-dory; it’s dire. If jump you must, jump into bed. Then I will tell you bedtime stories. Stories exclusively for you. Stories that will soothe you and be to your liking. Tales. You know what I mean. Tales.

Come, let’s fly. Baby, be not afraid. Be not led astray by what the whippersnapper newbies are telling you. Come. Let’s fly. Let me show you this serene paradise, now integrated with that greater paradise in a manner so seamless you will be aghast how we even achieved such perfect painless ecstatic surgery. We stitched it up. Some worthless folks are claiming it’s bleeding all over, but we stitched it up. Of course it bleeds in surgery, that’s part of it, but we severed things and we stitched them up all over anew. Jump into bed, become embedded, my darling, and I will show you.

Come, be comfortable with me, come away from all the rough and tumble, you don’t deserve any of that. Come cuddle with me, don’t be led astray by all that clamour and complaining. They’ve forever done that. They’ve forever provoked. They’ve forever violated. They’ve forever been beating their chests. They’ve forever been howling and crying and chanting that chant you no longer deserve to hear. Shut all of that out. Come to bed. Come be embedded. I shall tell you bedtime stories.

Look at the valley, oh how beauteous. The dales and the lakes. The torrents of spring, aqua here, aquamarine there, the tin-shed roofs glinting in the slant of the sun, the paddy fields a shimmer, those flocks of sheep, bleating about the high grasslands. Never mind the depeopled streets and village squares. They are not people you need to bother yourself with. They are nonsense people. They are avoidable people. They are people we all can do without. Should it come to that. We can do without them. This vale can do without them. I know you may have been wondering about what you heard and did not hear. The delirious scream. The muffled cry. The rage that emerged at the end of the street, and then ran away, having emptied itself in the throw of a stone, in a hoarse protest. Never mind. That is not what it is. There will always be that sort of folks. Nonsense folks. Flailing about for themselves, uncaring about anything else. There will always be those folks. We do not need to bother about them folks. We shall take care of them folks. They are not us. And those that are not us deserve to be told, in ways we know, that they are not us and will be treated in ways that we treat folks that are not us. We don’t invite into bed folks that are not us. And we don’t tell them the stories that I am about to tell you, my favoured cuddly dear. Be not afraid.
Was ever the sword that won
Never the wielded pen, shun!
Lie, lie embedded and be done
The rest, we put under the gun.

LazyEye

Birdie, Birdie, Kee Gall Hai?

Or, translated from Punglish, whatever’s the matter, birds? The answer, traditionally, in Engjabi, used to be: 

Sirdie,
Sirdie,
Seagull
Hai.

But never mind, those were the days. Days when we used to be able to crack a joke, and find a joke in it, and laugh and toss the rest of it off as if it were a joke and no more.

You crack a joke nowadays, Allah naa karey, and before the sound of cracking is over, they’ve sent a team of rack commandos to your doorstep with Burnup Khowsaymi’s outraged camera crew in tow: GET UP, STAND UP, THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW. (Translation: It’s Me Who Wants To Crow.) Which thought might lead me astray, as happens often:

Crow, crow, crow your throat
Hoarsely down the stream
Horribly, horribly, horribly, horribly,
Life is but a scream.

There. No more. So much attention. Now go, get a haircut, and ask the hajjam to chop your lamb chops, and then roast them. And sweep them into the dustbin, for roasted hair, and yours too, must belong to worse. Lambs. Chops. Roast. I mean Bakrid just went by, I mean, have I no shame? You know what I mean? Chhee-chhee! I am so shameless. But there are always folks that better me. You know, who am I, humble me?

Applause. Applause. Applause. More applause. Please.

Applause. Aaaah. Right. Silence. Silence.

Silence. Thank you. Thank you, Laydaas and Joints, thank you. We are on the renewal of oaths.

We shall speak the lie, and nothing but the lie, because if not the lie, we shall have to speak the truth. And that’s not allowed. Nor is it safe. But most of all, to speak the truth is hard and to speak the lie so convenient. Lie, and everybody’s happy. Ever looked at your face in the bathroom mirror? Come on, you must have. It lies. It makes you happy. That’s all that matters. Truth hurts, the lie comforts.

Like birds flying in a chained and gagged city. Birds are flying! Hey, how much more normal does that city want to be? Or can be? Birds have the freedom to flap their wings and fly. How much more freedom do you want than the freedom to fly the sky?

Birds fly. And birds fly. When they wish to fly, birds fly. When you fire a bullet, birds fly. There are ways of seeing a bird fly. There are ways of telling why the bird flew. There is a truth to be told about it. There is a lie to be told about it.

A bird in flight can fly. A bird in flight can be shot. Both birds have flown, both can be seen flying. You saw one bird. I saw another. Or probably it was the same bird we saw. It flew. Then it was shot, and it became the opposite of a bird flying. You saw a bird flying. I saw a bird being shot. You said birds were flying. I said birds were flying. Then I said the birds were shot. Where were you? Oh, you’d departed the scene. With your truth. Birds were flying. But that was a lie. Because the flying bird was shot. And it was just consolation for you, you had seen it flying. It was just consoling to you, the lie. For the truth was hard to tell, and there was no convenience in it. Go on, have your way. You’ll still know you lied, and did not the truth tell. That’s the thing with lying, the liar always knows. The truth, it’s a far more unsure thing.

On lies I have the authority
In me alone must you rely
’Cause should you not comply
Remember I’m the majority.