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Do sharks eat sand?

June 22, 2014
— 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