01 August, 2014 / Shawwal 4, 1435

Do sharks eat sand?

Published Jun 22, 2014 06:12am
— Illustration by Abro
— Illustration by Abro

Remember that old 1970s novel, Jaws? More so, remember the book’s thrilling film adaptation that rocked cinemas across the world in 1975, inventing the whole ‘summer blockbuster’ concept? Yes, it was about this big, nasty white shark that began to attack and devour unwitting folk in the sea waters that surrounded a touristy little town in the US.

Remember how after a few attacks by the big bad fish, the town’s sheriff pleaded with the town’s mayor that the beaches of the area be closed until the shark was caught? But the mayor refused, arguing that it was the height of the tourist season and that the town would lose millions of dollars if the beaches were closed. He also went on to accuse the sheriff of creating unnecessary panic and said that the shark was more a figment of his imagination than a reality.

Well, when thousands of tourists and people of the town began to gather on the beaches as they always did every summer, the huge shark went to town for a sumptuous lunch.

Does this little episode from the book/film remind you of anything? How we continued to ignore the fact that the figurative waters that surround us have been filling up with sharks for over a decade and yet we were always looking for all kinds of excuses to deflect and ignore this fact? We invested more in empowering our collective imaginations to come up with the silliest of scenarios and theories about the sharks not being there.


Our murky minds imagined enemies where there were none and none where there were many


Our minds had been altered in such a manner that we saw enemies where there were none, and none where there were many.Well, some men and women insisted that only talking to the (so-called) sharks could make the (supposed) sharks actually turn into becoming vegetarian fish. The only problem was, no one quite knew exactly how one talks to a shark, though many claimed that they did. But it didn’t work because many of those who tried, ended up becoming sharks themselves! Or seaweed.

Some believed that the shark attacks were justified because we had been hunting sharks long before they turned so vicious. But then such wise people added that the vicious sharks were put in our waters by our enemies to eat us. In other words, the (alleged) sharks were attacking us because we attacked them first but they were put in the water by our enemies and now we needed to talk to them. The sharks were alleged/so-called/supposed in case someone wanted to get rid of them, but quite real when someone wanted to talk to them. They were there, but not there.

Well, you see, according to some even wiser folk, there were good sharks and then there were bad sharks circling us. Bad sharks ate Pakistanis and good sharks ate only Afghans. So which of the two were put in the water by our enemies? The bad sharks, of course. But hold on there. It goes on. The so-called bad sharks are actually angry dolphins who became sharks because we slaughtered their kind and they now deserved some peace talking (and feeding), even though they were slipped in the water by our enemies and are bad.


Round and round we went until some Pakistanis finally realised that in our deep analysis of these sharks, we had begun to drown in a whirlpool of wish-wash. Anyway, now that we finally seem to have woken up to do something a tad more urgent and drastic about the pesky sharks, the whole new deal has already become a tad irritating for some folk.


Round and round we went until some Pakistanis finally realised that in our deep analysis of these sharks, we had begun to drown in a whirlpool of wish-wash. Anyway, now that we finally seem to have woken up to do something a tad more urgent and drastic about the pesky sharks, the whole new deal has already become a tad irritating for some folk.

Much of their business was being run on either navel-gazing about the sharks or outraging against anyone trying to suggest that they needed to be flushed out of the water. But recently even those who wanted them flushed out were left disorientated when an operation was finally launched by the shark-hunters to get rid of the troublesome fish. In a show of a rather morbid strain of hilarity, they began to throw harpoons at each other as they wrangled like spoilt, self-centred children fighting over sand-castles on a beach, as a tidal wave rose behind them in which the sharks and shark-hunters were caught in a vicious battle.

The poor onlookers were left scratching their heads. After coming around to finally believing that there were actual sharks in the water (instead of aliens in shark suits), the onlookers’ attention was immediately drawn (by hyperventilating men with mics and TV cameras) away from the battle in the water and towards the bratty children kicking sand in each other’s faces, and crying, ‘Outrage, outrage! That sandcastle belongs to me!’

The decision to launch an operation against the sharks might have been a major event that may decide the fate and future of the swimmers, but it was amazing to notice how the very next day, we were outraging and navel-gazing about children fighting over sandcastles.

The poor shark-hunters were expecting some good old cheering and moral support. Instead they got distracted brats with sand in their faces and their backs turned against the troubled waters.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, June 22nd, 2014

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Comments (31) (Closed)


Shaukat
Jun 22, 2014 06:39am

I hope we realize there are no good sharks. Good luck to the shark killers may the sea be safe again.

tariq
Jun 22, 2014 08:12am

incredible writing! Thank you NFP some people will never get this wakeup call. I suppose we need a captain like Robert Shaw (kind of looks like Amirul momineen) to be eaten by the shark before Richard Dreyfuss (kind of looks like Pervez Musharaf) steps in.

event horizon
Jun 22, 2014 08:33am

Why do we make so many errors of judgment in our foreign policy? Is our foreign office totally incompetent? Good piece by NFP as usual.

think_then_speak
Jun 22, 2014 09:32am

Hunger for power is the common quality of the sharks, their hunters and of course the fighting brats in sands

Nauman
Jun 22, 2014 09:44am

Our own gullibility in falling into the tracks of the Mullahs and their concocted version of the religion has turned most of the nation into cabbage. Hence an easy prey and meal for even a vegetarian shark coming from as afar as the Arabian seas. It is going to be tough task in unshackling the tight grip of the Jaws. Until then, I would partly concur with the Sheriff that there shall be no business for the time being and a crash course of de-brainwashing be put in place sooner than later.

BRR
Jun 22, 2014 10:01am

Even before the sharks are eliminated, or the net is cast for their capture, the brats on the sand get into fist fights waiting to unseat each other under the lonely umbrella on the beach. The shark hunters expected continuous cheering and genuflecting by the thankful brats - instead they got some thanks and mostly hot air to back them.

Asad
Jun 22, 2014 10:28am

Nicely summed up the situation ,but why do we have to degrade such a magnificent specie of the ocean by comparing it to potentially magnificent specie of the land.They have nothing in common except their origin from the water.

Nasir-ud-din Soomro
Jun 22, 2014 11:38am

Its nicely written article,men of understanding minds in Pakistan must have known the notions of this write-up.I am personally against deaths and destruction of any sort within sea,I wish to preserve Sandcastles if children are nagging over sandcastles they must be thrown into same sea for a sumptuous lunch of Sharks.

DHA Public Library
Jun 22, 2014 01:17pm

Steps for cleansing Pakistan :Steps to establish the safety of Pakistani waters in many dimensions;1.Polio Vaccination especially of those coming out of the polluted waters to save the cities and turning polio into epidemic .2;Wipe out the sharks wherever these are.3;Allow the IDPs to return to their homes as soon as possible.4;Give Provincial status to waziristan.5;Monitor border with Afghanistan using cameras on gas filled platforms.6;Deploy rapid response force to deny infiltration.7;Cleanse the cities of sleepers cells

DHA Public Library
Jun 22, 2014 01:17pm

Steps for cleansing Pakistan :Steps to establish the safety of Pakistani waters in many dimensions;1.Polio Vaccination especially of those coming out of the polluted waters to save the cities and turning polio into epidemic .2;Wipe out the sharks wherever these are.3;Allow the IDPs to return to their homes as soon as possible.4;Give Provincial status to waziristan.5;Monitor border with Afghanistan using cameras on gas filled platforms.6;Deploy rapid response force to deny infiltration.7;Cleanse the cities of sleepers cells

Anjum
Jun 22, 2014 01:29pm

What fine little piece. Pro-military and anti-politicians but justified because I too agree that the politicians have thus far failed to back the military's bold initiative to tackle the shark problem. And the symbolism of brats fighting over a sandcastle as a tital wave riseses behind them is very apt.

Kublai
Jun 22, 2014 02:35pm

We have a Tiger Shark currently living in the swimming pool of the PM house. In Isloo. This tiger shark's twin brother lives in the Lahore Canal. The little canal shark attacked Qadri. But Qadri chewed off the canal shark's tail. Now big brother will go and help his little brother in the toxic Lahori Canal. And fail.

Tareen
Jun 22, 2014 03:41pm

I hope the shark-hunters hunt the sharks not play with them.

jayjanjua
Jun 22, 2014 03:42pm

shark hunters could do it earlier... they have been unnecessarily looking for green signal by offshore Sharks...

Awam
Jun 22, 2014 03:49pm

Political parties are misguided to think shark will NOT attack them, while patting their favorite shark.

A.H. Hashmi
Jun 22, 2014 05:34pm

What ever our governments do, leave the common man in doubt. The media particularly T.V. adds to the confusion . The out come of all actions or even operations are not clear. only God can help in this chaos.

P izzaman
Jun 22, 2014 06:40pm

Kool! From NYC Cab to the ocean. - interesting transition - with open Jaws, the shark makes a (B)itter (s)ound annoying everyone but some loved it.

pathanoo
Jun 22, 2014 06:44pm

NFP proves his brilliance again. What a imaginative and true depiction of Pakistan. NFP has topped himself, again!! Every one understands and accepts (except the ISI,Military and the politicians who are respnsible for creating these sharks for their own purposes) that these sharks are Pakistani and no one put them there - Good or Bad ones. Get rid of these sharks once and for all or they will surely devour your children.

Satish Sharma
Jun 22, 2014 08:54pm

This, Mr. Pracha is apropo.

Though I must say, that no-one is hunting for sharks; hunters are only planning to get rid of small piranhas who have jumped in from another pond and they can't stand these strange looking critters questioning and polluting the majesty of brotherly mammalians,

but why?
Jun 22, 2014 08:57pm

okay i like the article....but whats with all the hate against sharks...sharks actually do not mess with you unless you are in their space...so honestly I think the allegory is insulting to sharks...

Talat H
Jun 22, 2014 09:31pm

Enjoyable !

Siddhartha Shastri
Jun 22, 2014 10:06pm

As the criteria for literary excellence go, resorting to allegories and metaphors is not considered the best of writing strategies. It makes complex issues sound simple, like the one-liners politicians use to win votes.

But at NFP's keyboard everything turns into gold. So let me point out one more metaphor NFP could have used but did not. Peter Benchley's novel begins with a deceptively tranquil sentence that precedes the fear and devastation that will be unleashed on the unsuspecting readers in the next few pages - "The giant fish swam silently through the night waters, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail."

syed kazmi
Jun 22, 2014 11:32pm

Thanks NFP. All the events leading to Castle war suggest it was/is a plan by the Shark lovers to distract poor onlookers attention from the Shark hunters. Let us us see how this extremely complicated affair which like those giant Octopuses living in deep seas, have many blood sucking tentacles comes to an end. Onlookers can only watch helplessly and prey.

Danish Ali Bhutto
Jun 23, 2014 01:26am

Sharks are after all sharks, having vicious canines. They admire none, abhor all. Any other fish stinks and causes dirt around the water and calls for death.

ss
Jun 23, 2014 08:57am

What an outstanding piece of excellent writing. Truly brilliant, and sadly, so true.

Sabah Hussain
Jun 23, 2014 09:52am

Excellent piece, bravo!

Rameez Sarwar
Jun 23, 2014 08:54pm

You can't eliminate the Sharks completely unless you annihilate their breeding abyss..Otherwise one generation will be followed by the other...Someone ever notice what was the origin of such an enormous number of sharks...

Shakeel Ahmed
Jun 23, 2014 10:00pm

A great write up and a nicely perceived sequel to the famous quote from Hillary Clinton:

"It's like that old story - you can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard,"

Good job NFP

Seriously
Jun 24, 2014 11:37am

brilliant!

Bilal Mustafa
Jun 26, 2014 01:01pm

The shark hunters better not start training new sharks

Bilal
Jun 26, 2014 06:38pm

Although they might not like it, I hope the children realize sooner rather than later that their future depends on the shark hunters.