This summer has been a complete waste for Jabbar
SALT N PEPPER BY DR. AJAZ BABA
In spite of my efforts to avoid him, Jabbar finally cornered me in my own house. An inveterate talker he makes sure that he has one’s undivided attention by delivering jabs on one’s body parts at regular intervals.
“This summer has been a complete waste.” he said shaking his head.
I said nothing.
“This summer has been a complete waste.” he repeated in a louder voice and with a jab delivered to my thigh.
I did not rise to the bait. I had done the mistake of responding with a 'why' to his 'pilot' statements too many times in the past. And every time the result had been an avalanche of a monologue that it took me hours to get out of.
“I had collected so many movies, almost all of Dilip Kumar, because I thought that there will be lots of time on my hands but no! June came and went and nothing! What a betrayal!”
I continued with my silence. I also made sure to consult my watch every two minutes that too with an exaggerated flourish of my arm and a studied frown on my face. But then of course Jabbar is made of far sturdier job material to be affected by such subtleties.
“It was a betrayal, wasn't it? What with everybody expecting a sequel to the last year's summer! Why even the authorities must be surprised to say the least.”
“It is a betrayal, I tell you. Of peoples legitimate aspirations and expectations,” he continued vehemently, throwing an ugly look or two in my direction as if my continued silence was part of the betrayal. He underlined his contention with a painful jab delivered to my ribs.
“Well I am not going to let this summer go without a protest! This Sunday...,” he broke off in the middle of the sentence and with an enigmatic smile on his face started to hum a tune.
I thought he would complete the sentence sooner or later, so I let it hang. He however continued with his irritatingly discordant humming. In the meantime I found myself up against my own curiosity which was increasing with every millisecond. Like on previous occasions I lost to my curiosity and clearing my throat rather self consciously I said, “Er…you were saying something about this Sunday…’
“Was I now?” he countered. He knew he had me hooked and it was his turn to play at cat-and-mouse now.
“It has been an unusually hot summer this year,” he changed tracks.
“So it has been,” I could no longer afford my silent non-cooperation.
“So shouldn’t there be a protest against it?”
“You mean protest against the summer heat!” I was taken aback. No doubt there have been novel protests on novel issues before but this was new for me. Protesting against a hot summer!
“Why not? Especially considering that it is not natural at all!” lowering his voice dramatically he continued, “I am sure you know that it is a great conspiracy!”
“Of course! They want to change the climate of this place.”
“Why on earth would they want to do something like that? And who’s ‘they’?” I countered.
“The authorities and their ‘agents’! They want to change everything about this place demography, culture, climate…everything!” he said pursing his lips and raising his eyebrows by way of emphasis.
“And how would they do it even supposing that they are at it?”
“They have ways and means of doing so especially with the help of their friends, Amrika and Izraeel!” he said with a smile that was meant to convey that though he might not reveal the details he knew all about it.
Visions of strategically placed mammoth heaters and blowers (concealed and camouflaged of course!) chasing the temperature in the upward direction rose in my mind. Well who knows among all the fictions in Kashmir we might be living out a bit of science fiction as well! It did seem just a bit too farfetched though. Maybe ‘they’ were just bringing pre-heated air from outside in those daily convoys and releasing it in the valley!
“So how are you going to protest against this heat wave?” I asked.
“This Sunday I am organizing a ‘Pahalgam Chalo’.”
“For the whole valley?!”
“Well no, I am just a chota mota khadim of the people, not quite that big a leader,” he said modestly. “At least not yet…” he added not so modestly. “ So this protest will be limited to my own locality. There will be a complete shut down. All shops and educational institutions will remain closed and the rally will proceed towards Pahalgam in buses.” Jabbar, by the way, lives in the Khasam Khaas locality of the Shehar-e-Khaas.
That was it. Jabbar left my place after inviting me to join in the ‘Pahalgam Protest’. After this conversation I have not met Jabbar yet but I came to know about the details of his “Chalo’ protest from a mutual acquaintance.
As per program, on the appointed day all the shops and the single educational institution in the Khaasam Khaas locality remained closed (it being Sunday ensured that the same happened smoothly). Early in the morning around nine buses (the number in different accounts varies from nine to nineteen) of ‘protesters’ started their rally from the locality towards Pahalgam. Busloads of people from other parts of Shehar-e-Khaas and even from other areas of the valley had also chosen this particular day to proceed towards Pahalgam which led Jabbar to claim later that ‘protesters’ from other areas had also heeded his ‘chalo’ call.
The buses carrying Jabbar’s supporters were stopped by traffic police just on the outskirts of Srinagar reportedly because most of the buses did not have the required route permit. Jabbar, in a press conference, trashed this report and swore that it was the special forces wearing the traffic blues as disguise who tried to scuttle his ‘chalo’ programme. Anyway seven of the nine buses were not allowed to proceed beyond Pampore but the ‘lead’ bus carrying Jabbar and another bus closely following it managed to give a slip to the traffic police and went on to Pahalgam. Jabbar attributed this feat to guerilla tactics but there are some who maintain that it was the result of a discreet financial transaction between Jabbar and the traffic cops. Protesters in the buses that were not allowed to proceed further spilled out into the saffron fields and spreading their durries and lunch baskets sat on a dharna. Jabbar said, in the press conference, that they raised slogans against the authorities but police sources maintain that the slogans were against Jabbar who had reportedly decamped with most of the ‘wazwaan’ which had been packed in the lead bus that he was traveling in.
Reports from Pahalgam say that Jabbar along with his two busloads of protesters had a field day there. Jabbar delivered a fiery speech denouncing the sweltering heat in Kashmir in general and the Srinagar city in particular, hinting at the involvement of the authorities and of course Amrika and Izraeel. Later as part of the protest, Jabbar led a group of hardcore protesters and had a dip in the waters of the Lidder. Somebody (the ‘agents’ as he was to claim in the press conference) decamped with Jabbar’s clothes and he had to spend the rest of the day in his underwear (which eyewitnesses say was more holes than underwear!). Later in the day Jabbar was arrested by the local police, for his bold and successful protest he maintains, for indecent exposure they say. All prejudice apart, I wouldn’t completely discount the police version considering that Jabbar who looks barely decent with his clothes on must have presented a rather shocking sight without them.
Meanwhile Jabbar has shot off a letter to Ban Ki-moon and is busy organizing another day of protest. This time, though not yet confirmed, it is likely to be Gulmarg Chalo.
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 16 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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