Waiting for the man

Published March 25, 2011

Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan/Dawn.com

An interview with a young revolutionary during a revolutionary demonstration in the revolutionary city of Islamabad

So, young man, how is the revolution going?

Revolution not going, sir, it’s coming.

Are there more people expected at this demonstration?

There are enough. How many do we need?

Well, at the moment there are  … 1,2,3,4 .. oh, I would say about 77 people maybe? But you’re right. After all, even Lenin thought only a handful of dedicated workers could  bring revolution.

No, no, we have nothing to do with John Lennon!

I meant Vladimir Lenin, the famous Russian revolutionary.

Oh, no, no, we’re not into Russians.

So you’re into Pakistanis?

Yes, yes, I mean, no, no, I mean, Pakistani men …


No, no, not those kind of men, only men like our leader.

So you’re into men like your leader?

Yes …I mean, in a revolutionary sort of a way.

I see. So are you and your fellow revolutionaries agitating for a revolution or protesting against the release of Raymond Davis?

We are revolting.

Oh, I think you all seem decent enough, not revolting at all.

No, no, we are not decent. We are revolting! We are ready to shed our blood for our leader and revolution, but look what the police are doing to us.

Police is doing to you what police is supposed to do to young men ready to revolt and to shed blood.

Yes, but they are pushing us! This is brutality.

At least they’re not beating you.

What? They beat people up too?

Yes, very much so. Sometimes they torture people as well.

Really? Then how can they expect us to bring revolution?

But they don’t want you to bring a revolution

Why not? They all look so poor and sun-burned.

They are the police!

Then who will allow us to bring a revolution?

No one will. You have to fight and bleed for it.

Like Tupac?

No, like, let’s say, Che Guevara.

Our leader is like Guevara.

Err … your leader is more like a middle-aged Justin Timberlake.

I love Justin!

I can see that.

You can?

Yes. But I can’t see a Che Guevara in this demonstration.

Che is dead.

No kidding.

I tell you, he is. You should be more informed about things when you interview people like me.

I’ll try. So, anyone else from your family who’s come to this .. errm ... mammoth gathering?

My whole family is here. But you won’t be able to see them. They do pardah.

Even the men?

No, no, only the women, of course.

Wonder what Che would’ve thought about that?

Che was a true Muslim.

He was a communist.

What’s that?

That’s what Che was.

A comma?

No, a full-stop.

What are you talking about? Che was a good, ghairatmand Muslim.

Is that what your leader has been telling you?

No, I read that somewhere. You see, I read a lot.

That's good to know. Where did you read that Che was a Muslim?

In Mr. Zaid Hamid’s book.

He wrote that?

I haven’t reached that part yet.

So how can you say he wrote that?

Well, he should. Did you know he also wrote that Sikhs were actually Muslims?

Yes, I heard him say that. He’s quite a joker, isn’t he?

No, no, he’s a scholar. Imran Khan sahib, Zaid sahib, Hamid Gul uncle, and aunty Shireen Mazari will bring a revolution with us.

You forgot to mention Sansar Abbasi...

What?? Okay, him too.

… And Justin Timberlake.

But he’s American! We hate America!

But you love Justin, remember?

I am willing to stop listening to Justin for my country.

Now that, would be brave.


So, now that the police are not allowing you to bring a revolution, what do you plan to do?

We’re thinking of bribing them.

Bribe the police? But that would be a corrupt act. I thought you were dead against corruption?

No, we’re not dead. Only Che is dead.

No, what I meant to say was, that since …

I know what you meant to say.


And we will help these poverty-stricken policemen by giving them money and this way they will not push us.

So you want to bring a revolution without the cops pushing, beating or arresting you?

They can’t arrest our women! They do pardah.

The cops don’t care. If they think the women are causing trouble, they’ll arrest them too.

Then how will we bring a revolution?

What about women who do not do the pardah?

But we are Pakistani.

Not all Pakistani women do the pardah.

They must be Christian or Hindu then.

No, not all Muslim women …

Are you Christian?

No. Why?

You don’t have a beard.

Well, neither do you, son and neither does your leader.

(Touches his face and wonders) Hmmm … that’s true.  But we should have a beard, shouldn’t we?

No, not necessarily. It has nothing to do with religion.

It doesn't?


So there! That’s why our leader doesn’t have a beard …

But Che Guevara, the communist did and so do Sikhs, and …

Of course, Sikhs have beards. They’re all Muslim.

But, of course. How can I not know that? Shame on me. Anyway, I can see some of your comrades are having burgers down there and chilled colas.

Yes, we’re hungry and hot.

And not into Russians.

Only Russian Salad.

Ha ha.

Why are you laughing?

I thought you were being witty.

No, I’m a very serious.

With an accent.

Is that a problem?

No. Just a slight impediment for a revolutionary with an anti-American image.

Just because I’m not a comma, doesn’t mean my comrades and I can’t bring a revolution, y’know.

Oh, of course. So, tell me more about these commas who keep making fun of you?

They’re just jealous! We are blessed with a great leader, and have this amazing love and passion for our country.

So do they?

No they don’t!

Why do you say that?

I just know. These commas can’t be trusted. They don’t believe in God.

Yes, some commas don’t believe in question marks.  But not all. Some commas are really semi-colons. By the way, Che was an atheist.

That’s a lie!

That’s a fact.

You’re just bugging me. Stop it or I’ll tell my mom.

Your mom’s here too?

No, she’s in Dubai.

In a pardah?

No, I mean, yes … sort of.

Hey, I’m not bugging you. I’m interviewing a great young revolutionary.

I’m feeling hot.


No, I mean, it’s really hot today. But I shall brave the sun and the dust for a great cause.

And the cause is …?

A revolution!


Corruption … no, today it’s actually against Raymond Davis … or is it for Aafia Siddiqui? Hmmm … let me ask.

Maybe it’s against terrorism.

Can’t be. Because there is no terrorism in Pakistan.

Excuse me?

What you commas call terrorism, is just our Pakhtun brothers fighting for their honour against Americans!

That’s a load of lies.

That’s a load of fact.

Can you substantiate this with proof?

Why should I substitute this fact?

Substantiate, not substitute … never mind.

You are just against Muslim ummah and our fight to restore the khilafat.

The what?

The khilafat.

In this day and age?

Yes. We need a pious and brave khalifa.

And your leader will be that khalifa?

Why not?

So this demonstration is for the imposition of a khilafat against Western imperialist pigs?

That sounds good. Wait, let me write that down. Can you repeat what you just said?

Sure. I said, 'thori si joh peeli hai, chori toh nahi ki, oh sheela, oh nazzo, mujhey tum sambhalo, kahein hum gir na parain!'

That’s a Hindu film song.

That is an Indian film song.

It’s about alcohol. What sort of a Muslim are you. Have you no ghairat?

Why, don’t you watch Indian films as well?

Well, yes, but I am now ready to sacrifice watching them too.

I’m impressed.

Thank you. Now if you would excuse me, I need to plan for a revolution.

But you still haven’t told me what the revolution is against or about?

Errm … err ... let me ask (starts dialing number on his cell phone).

Whom are you calling?

My mom!



Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.



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