Pakistan (Private) Ltd. – By A. Nazir

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Pakistan (Private) Ltd. – By A. Nazir

 

 

Aren’t you ashamed of yourself…?’She screamed at me from across the table. You call yourself a man..? More of a slip of a man you are I must say…’ She continued, while I hung my head in shame…

Why could you not have been brave enough, why do you not have some courage, why did

you not ever go to jail, why did you never kill someone, why did you not ever embezzle money , and hence… it is no surprise now is it… not difficult at all to understand why we are where we are today…. where we should not have been… do you hear?’ She shouted.

But then you don’t really care now do you…’ she continued. Oh no, you are just not bothered about our pathetic situation now are you… Come on speak up, has cat got your tongue… tell me… tell me about our share, tell me where our share is, eh… or do you think we have no right over Pakistan, that we are not suppose to have a share in the pie… but then, is that not so because you simply do not have the guts to carve one for us… you, you, shameless creature… you have no substance… no sense of responsibility towards friends and family.’

I am sorry… I suffer from middle-class morality,’ I answered, my head still hanging on rusted hinges, you know… honour, integrity, honesty, dignity, truth , stuff like that… like, earnings from the sweat of the brow and all that kind of nonsense…’ I explained almost as if it was not a shameless confession. In other words, I am a coward…’ I then hurriedly rounded off my lame excuses with the expectation of a sympathy that was incorrect to expect in the first place…

And thus in this process, I did the unforgivable, I exposed my true self to the only person in the world to whom I should not have exposed my inner self at all , to the only love in my life… for after all did she not have a right, like others, to be kept in the dark, in some sort of utopia, under a fake impression, even in a limbo if you prefer, waiting for expectations that were not ever meant to see daylight , especially since, after all, once again, I was never equipped to deliver the real goodies anyway , which implied even more so that I should never have denied her the right to dream…that I should not have taken that away from her…

The consequence of my confession was therefore exactly as it should have been… The cost had to be paid for my frankness, for my openness. The fact is that I had quite literally allowed my inner feelings to surface rather tactlessly, which I normally tend to do at the drop of a hat as if it is the most appropriate thing to do, as if being transparent is some kind of a good thing, as if there is no charm in hidden secrets, with no dark aspects to my personality at all , but this time it was different… I had gone too far… this ultimate confession did the trick. For the first time, she could now clearly see that I was as plain as they come…

My life is like an open book you know,’ I further added to my grief without realizing. But to me it had seemed as the last trick up my sleeve, the ultimate strategy of a loser, who once nothing else had worked, could now only try to look the look of a straight forward noble man incapable of anything that resembled a wrong.

And who do you think might ever be interested in this bloody open book?’ she quipped. Can you please explain why would someone in their right mind ever want to read such a boring book…?

And, so, it happened. She now knew what she had suspected all along. That, I was an escapist, I pretended to be involved in outdated virtues which once they were put across could simply only stink of mediocrity , that, in short… I was a coward…

But then I realised only later, I learnt too late that it was a steep decline, I mean look at Pervez Musharaff, see where he is now even though he has tried. In spite of serious attempts he has simply not been able to recover from his claims of transparency made during the initial days when he had seized power though subsequently he had done everything under the sun to leave it behind him. He had even written a revealing book which did not reveal anything. The strategy was for people to buy the book not to find anything in there but to determine what was not and hence have some respect for his intelligence once again which had come to be termed as feeble over time. He tried, he did believe me, for people to have some faith in him once again, this time for his proposed wickedness for failing to explain simple facts such as missing people, corruption of the generals, murder etc etc… Transparency my foot, the only way he could have earned a wee bit of respect for his intellectual capacity was through emitting things and not by stating them… and yet, he has not made it… he has not been able to get over his initial mistake, poor fellow, it was not that he could afford to be transparent at any given time… it is just that he had at first mistakenly thought of it to be good for his image…

But coming back to me, the harm had been done and not that I had still learnt my lesson… I ventured further and accused her of not appreciating an honest man and what came from her next was therefore well deserved… and I will be damned if I tell you what…

I recouped though , it did take time, but I did. At least we sleep soundly at night,’ I said to her with triumph as soon as enlightenment struck me once I had pondered enough once again… And this is when she really blew her cool. And when was that?’ she asked firmly, Before or after we could not pay the rent…’

I was heart broken. She was right. Why did I not have the courage to force others to give up their share for me… I know why, I was not willing to pay the price, that’s why, I did not want to compromise my comfort zone, I was afraid of waking up in a jail with cockroaches crawling on my face… yes it was disgusting, I just did not have it in me… I was a coward. Fortune does not favour those who can’t force their selves on others… fortune does not favour those who are reluctant to take risks just because they don’t want cockroaches to crawl on their face… and was there after all any successful man in my country who did not allow cockroaches to crawl on his face at one time or another…? It was simple, the writing had always been on the wall, but I had missed it altogether…

Maybe life is absurd, I consoled myself. Maybe I am right and all the high and mighty are wrong I thought, and this brought a smile to my lips, which scared the rest in the bus, who did not look forward anymore to seeing an Asian smile with a twinkle in his eyes as if he had reached a decisive moment of enlightenment, right at this point, while travelling on the London Transport system, and therefore in order to put my fellow passengers at ease I opened my extra large rucksack and turned it upside down to allow its only content to drop to the bus floor, and the single can of bitter tried to roll away from me but I caught it in the act, you too Brutus I said to the can and opened it with a merciless twist, and at the same time I started an animated discussion with my virtual friend, my only friend, whom I did not have to share with anyone, but soon the force of my argument made the bitter trickle down in streams from both corners of my mouth , but which, however, did the trick. Immediately the atmosphere in the bus relaxed, there was relief. It was not an unfamiliar situation anymore, at least nothing that my fellow passengers had to struggle to understand.

Anyways… I was excited. I got down at the next bus stop and rushed to tell her the good news… to inform her that life was absurd and that along with that I suspected that the world was absurd as well… and this is when she unloaded the rest… and I will be damned if I tell you what…

However, one day she was in a compromising mood and she explained things to me. Pakistan is a profit making enterprise, it is not a not-for-profit entity by any means, not an NGO if you please,’ she said, except that in this particular incidence there are no articles of memorandum. And since there are more profits in lawlessness, since lawlessness has its own charms and benefits, all one needs is courage. Access to the board of directors can only be through a hostile takeover and that is why the army is always in power. The Generals have the strength of half a million armed body guards whom also by the way the Generals mistreat in order to ensure that their grip over slavery is not lost.’

I will never forgive myself for not joining the army,’ I said thoughtfully.

No excuses,’ she said. There are also times when civilians take over the board of Pakistan , but not men like you. They are men of honour , men who are not afraid of cockroaches. In fact, as we know they are braver than the generals. The generals hide behind bodyguards and have yet never won a single battle when the opponent is also armed , and I bet they will run in terror and have their batman’s court marshalled if they ever see a cockroach even if from a distance , but these civilian leaders they do not have such luxury, they do things on their own, they fight their own battles even against armed men if that is what is required. They are real men. They are street fighters. Not organised fighters like the generals who cry foul when the going turns rough and look towards the referee for a seize fire… and as you know, street fighting is an ability that is so much required in a board of corporate standards anyway , since it is always the last man standing who wins , so you see, these civilian men, they are the men I tell you, they are the ones who seize profits through guts and courage in spite of facing heavy odds, in an atmosphere where everyone is eyeing the other’s share of the pie, but these men they are daring I tell you. They are not like the generals who first turn loot into legal entitlement before they take it home. Turn everything into kosher before they dare indulge. Who take the added precaution of refusing to come under the jurisdiction of civilian laws, under any law for that matter… as if they are naturally gifted, saints incapable of ever succumbing to crimes such as torture, rape, genocide and greed… or even crimes of passion, in fact especially crimes of passion.’

And what about the common people?’ I asked. The ordinary staff working in Pakistan (Private) Ltd?’

What about the common staff, stupid’ she quipped. That’s you isn’t it? And you do still suffer from middle-class morality don’t you. Never will you be a director in the board…’ and she started to cry. Why did my parents not realize that they were throwing me in a bottomless pit…? How can one do this to ones only child? Even the thought of your ever being in a position to enjoy the benefits of a cash-cow directorship is absurd. Yes, that is what is absurd , not life. Life is fine for the directors of the board… the world is not absurd in their case,’ and she sobbed, and she sobbed.

I promise you,’ I said. If I ever get a chance to become a director of the board, I will rob and steal. I will grant myself excessive entitlements, I will authorize myself perks and fringe benefits, I will squeeze cash from out of the cash flow till the treasury is bereft of the last cash. I promise I will be a man… I won’t care, I will let others eat their heart out, I will increase the company borrowings and milk that as well… I now know that without pain there is no gain. No courage no cash. No cockroaches no power. I will not try to stay out of jail and think that grapes are sour when it comes to matters of wealth and power anymore. Instead I will go to jail to be a man and I will despise those who claim virtues… who are liars anyway as everyone knows… who given a chance would also do what is the best thing to do when there are no articles of memorandum… unless of course they are afraid of cockroaches, and for which they would have only their own selves to blame…’

You have started to see the light,’ she said amidst tears, a new hope dawning in her eyes.

But having said that,’ I continued. Don’t you think I am after all a capable and educated man…that I deserved better…?’

Have you ever seen an educated and capable man reach the board of Pakistan (private) ltd?’ she asked with disappointment showing on her face once again. Educated and capable men do not have the necessary skill-set. They are destined to stay where they belong… on the footpath while brave men are driven past escorted by police in cars with blaring sirens… sometimes the police escorts the dignitaries to protect them and at other times they are handcuffed and made to sit on the floor of the very police vans to protect others from them… but anyways, no mater what, the life of a brave man is never inconsequential, it is not like yours…’

You will never learn, you know, I think I will now officially lose hope, for what can one expect from a person who has still not learnt what to do with his so-called abilities and education…’ and then what she said next , I will be damned if I tell you…

 

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