A colleague of mine — a funny, upbeat office joker — has this habit of cracking faith-based jokes. He`ll tell you Sikh jokes, he`ll crack Christian jokes, Hindu jokes, Jewish jokes, even some Zoroastrian and Buddhist jokes.
Late last week he approached me early in the morning and said that I must hear his brand new Hindu joke. I said okay and off he went. The joke wasn`t all that funny, so he tried to make up by cracking a new Jewish joke. It made me smile, but as he waited for me to praise his wit, I asked him what would happen if we turned these jokes into Muslim jokes?
“What do you mean?” He inquired, sounding somewhat disappointed.
“Well,” said I, “I believe if the characteristics of these jokes are switched and made Muslim in context, they would still be relevant.”
“What are you talking about?” He asked, all surprised. “Why should I crack Muslim jokes?”
“Why shouldn`t you?” I asked.
“Because I`m a Muslim,” he said, without any hesitation or hint of irony.
“I see,” said I. “So being a Muslim gives you the right to make fun of all other religions?”
“Yaar Nadeem, why do you have to be a party-pooper and bring your Marxism into everything?” He said, irritated but still smiling.
“Marxism? What has Marxism got to do with my question?” I asked. “All I asked was how come you never crack any Muslim jokes?”
“And I told you why,” he said.
“Yes, you did, but that`s such a hypocritical thing to do. Making fun of all other religions but your own,” I said.
“Listen, dude, I don`t know what you`re on, but I promise I won`t be cracking any more faith jokes in front of you, okay,” he said.
“Fine,” I replied. “But have you ever wondered that with these jokes of yours, you are suggesting that your religion gives you the right to exhibit a shallow sense of superiority by making fun of other religions?”
“Okay, forget religion. I`ll tell you a fantastic new Pathan joke instead,” he said.
“Okay,” I said smiling, “but after that I would like to hear a Punjabi joke, a Sindhi joke, a Balochi and a Mohajir joke as well.”
“Never mind,” he said caustically. “I`ll tell you a Sardar-Ji joke instead.”
“How boring,” I announced. “Tell me a Taliban joke first.”
The joke wasn`t all that funny, so he tried to make up by cracking a new Jewish joke. It made me smile, but as he waited for me to praise his wit, I asked him what would happen if we turned these jokes into Muslim jokes?
“What`s a Taliban joke?” He asked, in all earnest.
“Now that`s a joke,” I laughed.
“Ah,” he shot back, sarcastically. “The wonders of Marxist humour.”
“Marxist humour?” I laughed again. “If Marxists had any humour, Groucho Marx would`ve been hailed as the finest Marxist!”
“Yeah, whatever that means,” he said, still slightly sullen.
“Cheer up, mate,” said I, patting him on the back. “Today`s jesters thrive on predictability, so I shall cheer you up with some predictability too.”
He looked at me, thinking what I was talking about “predictability?”
“Yes,” I said, opening my gmail account on the computer. “Here. Look at these brand new Zardari jokes that were forwarded to me this morning.”
“Oh, I get it,” he said, giving a cynical sideways smile. “To you, Zardari jokes are equivalent to bad, predictable humour, right?”
“Yes, bad, predictable, reactionary humour, to be precise,” I said.
“Oh, just because you are a PPP sympathiser... ”
“No,” I interrupted. “Just because I`d like to think of myself as a man with a fairly good, accurate and tasteful sense of humour.”“What gibberish,” he said, all worked up. “But you`re full of jokes about Imran Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, TV anchors, mullahs and the jihadis!”
“Yes,” I smiled. “Like I said, I`d like to think myself as a man with a fairly good, accurate and tasteful sense of humour.”
“And you called me a hypocrite?” He said, mockingly.
“No, I called you predictable,” I replied.
“Well, you`re as predictable,” he said.
“Perhaps. But let me tell you a brand new joke, would you like to hear it?”
“I`m sure it`s about Hamid Mir, Osama, Qazi or Imran Khan.”
“No. It`s about Mohammad bin Qasim.”
“Right,” he said, agitated. Mr Paracha cracks a joke about a Muslim leader. How predictable.”
“Okay, I`ll crack another new joke, instead,” I said.
“About whom?” He asked.
“Another Muslim leader,” I announced.
“Sorr y, not interested,” he shook his head.
“What? A concerned, patriotic Pakistani Muslim is not interested in a new Zardari joke?” I asked, smiling.
His sullen, half-angry expression returned “Very funny.”
“Precisely,” I smiled. “I`m glad you enjoyed it.”