CLIFTONIA: DISAPPEARING ACTS

Published February 14, 2021
Composite Illustration by Saad Arifi
Composite Illustration by Saad Arifi

The following tale is taken from a book entitled Popular Cliftonian Fairytales — For Ages 4 to GHQ. It has been submitted to the Board of Tahafuz-i-Bunyad-i-Cliftonia, a division of the Ministry of Education and Other Extra-Commercial Activities, for an NOC and publishing approval.

Disappearing Acts (Based on a true story)

Long ago, in a land far away from any semblance of reality, lived a kind, compassionate,  humble, deodorised, dandruff-free, warrior king who loved his people more than anyone in history has ever loved their people. And, in turn, his loyal subjects loved him beyond measure, constantly singing his praises like the coke-snorting, jingoism-dripping anchorpersons that they were.

This handsome king had an enormous court which was filled to the brim with the smartest, wisest and most intelligent individuals in all of Cliftonia. Popularly known as ‘the family jewels in his majesty’s crown,’ the king’s ministers and special advisers were the envy of the world. It was said that not since Akbar the Great had anyone assembled such a fragrant bouquet of exceptionally gifted courtiers. 

The kingdom was a picture of peace, harmony, justice and equality. This was all due to a special gift bestowed upon the king by the universe itself. For whenever something irked the king — as a selfless ruler, he was only ever annoyed by anything or anyone that posed a bother to the Republic — he would close his eyes and repeat the word ‘disappear’ three times in quick succession and, voila! That person or situation would disappear in an instant.

No one knew what happened to the disappeared, where they went, who took them and how… did the earth swallow them whole or did the heavens devour them? It was as if they never existed. And the moment the traitors vanished, peace would return and reign supreme over gated communities all across the Republic.

An excerpt from a book submitted for an NOC and publishing approval in the Republic of Cliftonia

The patriotic, warrior-king loved his people so much that he shunned all pomp and circumstance and instead lived like an average, ordinary, salaried government servant on his multi-million dollar estate.

The citizens of Cliftonia admired his no-frills simplicity, borne, as it was, out of his total devotion to the country. Many moons ago, on the annual anniversary of his non-retirement, they forced him to allocate 40 acres of prime real estate to himself as a gesture of appreciation for his simple living. When he protested their generosity (as all patriotic leaders are wont to do), the entire nation got together and forced him to allocate an additional 50 acres to himself for being even humbler than they had anticipated!

Overwhelmed by the love of his subjects, he reluctantly agreed. He then closed his eyes and gently whispered: “disappear, disappear, disappear”, and all the villages, that had for centuries called those 90 acres their home, immediately disappeared. 

His daughter, Princess Cliftonia, had inherited these powers from her father and was extremely adept at wielding them. As the Editor-in-Chief, owner, publisher and ombudsman of the Speak! Media Group — renowned for its uncompromising independence in cantonments and board rooms all across Aitchisonia-upon-Chenab — she frequently made individuals disappear from the nation’s news radar.

One minute a human rights lawyer or a journalist would be giving his or her view on a topic of national concern and the next minute they would be replaced with a popular Cliftonian celebrity, reminding people how important it was to recognise the traitors amongst them who had sold their beloved land for a few dollars to evil, nefarious global syndicates hell-bent on destroying the Republic because of its unique, innate goodness. 

As the country’s leading fashion designer, Princess Cliftonia’s brand — “Disparu? Je Ne Sais Rien!” — was worn with a great sense of pride by local celebrities, bursting at the seams with principled stands on numerous non-Cliftonian countries oppressing their minorities.

“I wish Princess Cliftonia could use her super powers and make these evil countries disappear!” popular actor and anti-feminist feminist Rebecca de Chandio would often complain, “but these diabolical international laws make it so difficult for her magic to work.”

All the socio-economic sections of the Republic — from the obscene, stinking, filthy, tax-dodging rich to the relatively less odious, pretending to be hand-to-mouth, well-connected, affluent upper-middle classes — prayed for the king and his family every day and hoped that this system, which had so lovingly provided them with unending opportunities to acquire happiness, unaccountability and dual nationalities for themselves and their families (wrapped in mind-numbing obliviousness), would continue till the end of time. 

Questions:

Does your family stink of obscene wealth?

How many strings did you pull to regularise your irregular family estate?

Is your conscience ever bothered by your hypocrisy? 

How long have you and your family lived in oblivion?

Farid Alvie was born. He currently lives. He tweets @faridalvie

Published in Dawn, EOS, February 14th, 2021

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