Today, I wanted to write about the media but I cannot. Not when the media traps itself into a blasphemy dispute, in which there is no reprieve.

If you are quiet, you are admitting your guilt. If you deny, you are shamelessly hiding your guilt. If you speak up, you are being insolent. It is like quicksand, the more you struggle to come out, the deeper you sink.

So, I thought I should write about politics. But I could not, not on a day when the whole nation is fighting over a qawwali and our neighbors select a man with blood on his hands to lead them.

So, I decided to set my pen free and this is what it wrote:

“The water is calling you, hear its persistent call. The night of retribution is upon you. Since you have committed the sin of denying yourself, you are running in circles,” said the old man.

Others in the town did not believe him. They forced him to leave, hide in a cave, outside the town.

Then all of them, young and old, gathered in the town and chose a good leader but soon replaced him. Why? He was only as good as the others in the town were.

Then they chose a wise leader and replaced him because he was only as wise as the others in the town.

Then they chose a brave leader from the fighting class and replaced him too. Why? He was only as brave as the others in the town.

One day, the old man came back and said to them: “Why blame your leaders? They are from your stock. So how can they be different?”

They forced him back to the cave.

This time, they chose a leader and hanged him. So a leader with mischievous eyes and funny moustache imposed himself upon them. They could not get rid of him, so he fell off the sky. Nobody knows how.

More leaders came and went but nothing changed.

So the old man reappeared and said: “First learn how to choose and then choose a leader.” They forced him back to his cave.

He came back and said: “Learn some wisdom.” They sent him back.

He came again and said: “Change your thinking.” They sent him back.

The old man did not return but they began to hear the noise that the old man had warned them against, that of the roaring sea, which sounded angry, very angry and seemed to be moving towards them, circling them from all sides.

They heard a voice, coming from the sky and from under the earth:

“The water is calling you. And there is a sea ahead of you. And there is water behind us too,” it said.

“Save yourself if you can. It is a sea you face, a deep, roaring sea. Hear it breathing. It knows no end. And it awaits you.”

They heard the warning and rushed towards the cave to ask the old man what to do. The cave was empty.

“You may have heard the flowing water before. But this is a flood, like that of Noah’s but you do not have an ark,” warned the sky and the earth.

But the people got together and built a vessel. It was large. It was strong and it was good. But when the time to board came, they began to fight. Each person wanted to stop the other from boarding the vessel because each saw the other as a sinner.

“If you are on the boat, it will sink,” they said to each other.

The vessel waited as they quarreled and the water continued to rise.

“You are all sinners,” said the voice. “And you are all ignorant. Be wise, queue up and board. There’s enough space for all of you.”

But no one paid any heed. They were busy fighting, because each group thought the boat belonged to them, there was no place for the others on this vessel.

“You built your homes on the river path, so you are all ignorant,” said the voice. “You thought you have turned the tide. Tamed the river. Have you tamed the river? So what are we scared of then?” the voice asked.

“Hear the water's call and save yourselves from its wrath. But how? And who are you scared of? The sea, the flood or yourself? Are you afraid of your own wrath? Or of the venom hidden deep inside you?” the sky asked.

“The venom that is eating you from inside is your real enemy, although you do not know. It is waiting for you. The flowing water calls you. Asking you to escape but escape to what? Where are the safe shores?” asked the earth.

“What you see is the eye of the storm. It is no shore. And the storm is waiting for you, impatiently. Save yourself from its claws but how? The sea, the storm and the shore are all traps that death has set for you,” said the sky.

“So how do you escape them? No one has escaped death. In the effort to escape, you are moving towards the deep sea. You are under the water's trance. And you are moving towards the sea. So how can you save yourself, and from it?” the earth asked.

The people looked towards the ark but it had already moved away from them while they were fighting.



KP’s ‘power struggle’
Updated 21 Jun, 2024

KP’s ‘power struggle’

Instead of emboldening protesters, CM Gandapur should encourage his provincial subjects to clear their due bills and ensure theft is minimised.
Journalist’s murder
21 Jun, 2024

Journalist’s murder

ANOTHER name has been added to the list of journalists murdered in Pakistan. On Tuesday, Khalil Jibran’s vehicle...
A leaner government?
21 Jun, 2024

A leaner government?

FINANCE Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has reiterated his government’s ‘commitment’ to shutting down ministries...
Kindness needed
Updated 20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

This year’s World Refugee Day theme — solidarity with refugees — includes keeping our borders accessible and addressing the hurdles they face.
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...