The Besieged Ruler
Does power even exist in this land?
Holding his chubby face on the cusp of his hands like an ancient Gothic portrait, the alleged head-of-the-government, sitting in his luxurious toilet, felt heat in his puny brain. For the last one hour or so ceased in that maudlin pose, he was pressing his half-British mind to give him an idea how to solve the problem he was currently facing. The problem had emerged after his masters hanged a man from his land of which he was supposed to be an alleged ruler. The situation was precarious one with medieval overtones in which people were throwing stones on his forces he had deployed in full strength. Curfews he imposed did not deter them. People were indifferent whether he resigns or not, they did not hold him responsible for the hanging which was anyways not under his control. They wanted end of the hands that pulled his ropes.
On many occasions, previously, he had run off to this palatial toilet, where through German faucets waters from royal springs flows, and got ideas to deal with difficult situations. He would sit there whole night thinking and thinking till a tall apparition of his grandfather would appear and tell him the best idea. Some times apparitions of grand spooks from his masters’ land accompanied his grandfather.
But unlike, previous times, no idea struck him from last two weeks. He felt besieged now and it was telling on his health. He suffered acute constipation, unexpectedly, both literally and metaphorically.
“Did you consult your father on this?” grandfather asked.
“No, grandpa, you know how he is. He is all the time watching those droll soap operas and reading fashion magazines and reading those slushy poems of that heck of a bureaucrat what is his name?” In stress he forgot the name.
“I know I know, my son. He was my mistake.” The grandpa replied in somber voice.
“And you know the situation here, this land is a powder keg and his indifference is too dangerous sometimes, you know. In a situation like this he seems…” he lost the words.
“Bull in a china shop, right?” the old man said.
“Yes, you are right, grandpa. Even a bull does not sleep so much”
“Let him, let him, son.” the old man said standing in front of him with his gray hair touching the ceiling. “Always remember what somebody has said, ‘The serpent, the king, the tiger, the stinging wasp, the small child, the dog owned by other people, and the fool: these seven ought not to be awakened from sleep.’ So bear that in mind”
“Oh grandpa, you are so wise, how I wish he had acquired a little bit of you!”
"Before I go I would recommend you to visit our family library. In the only cupboard where I used to keep my notes and rings, you would find a gift from my dear friend”
He visited the library next morning without having his routine breakfast of 11 eggs omelet. The cold breeze made his cheeks cherry-red. In the dusty family cupboard he found several rings, folded letters, embroidered shawls, an American and a Palestinian flag, and big karakul. Just beside the karakul lied the gift from the dear friend of his grandfather – a neat untouched copy of Arthashastra.
For the whole day he read it in his cozy study room chair. While he was reading the book, his father, leaning on a velvety couch, laughed like drain in the living room, watching a comedy on a large plasma TV. “Hahahaha…Good God! This lady says politicians feel no love….can you believe that…hahahaha…what a naïf cherry she is, by god!” His 220 pound body vibrated, shook the house, and made his son yell out “Can you please let me concentrate and stop creating these maniac sounds out there!”
Next day, he assumed his avatar of an alleged head-of-the-government. Sporting a shining three pieces, he exhibited self-confidence and urgency. He summoned the all-powerful inner circle that composed the brains, the eyes and the hands of his governing apparatus – the intelligence, the police and the military.
“Gentlemen, after much thought for past few days, I have come up with a solution to this deteriorating situation prevailing in our state” he announced in firm voice protruding his lips at the end of every two words.
The gentlemen looked unimpressed. One of them was chewing something through his protruding pinkish inner lips. Another one was scratching his oiled hair. Yet another was on his blackberry. This was 10th emergency meeting he had called in last one month and every time there was a solution discussed which later on miscarried.
Today, however, unusually the meeting was finished in an hour. The inner circle came out in a different mood, looking confident of the ideas shared inside. “This is a terrific idea in my opinion”, said one of them, others nodded in agreement. “Indeed it is. Let us see how it works.”
“Now, surely these crazy monkeys are going to dance” They all laughed out and disappeared in their SUVs.
After three days, facebook status updates began reading like this: “Electricity department seems to have gone mad. After every fifteen minutes darkness falls on us, what is going on!”
“Does power even exist in this land? Why is electricity department drunk today?”
“At least you could have let me charge my mobile. Then you could have taken this electricity along with yourself on a long drive. .or wherever you wanted to!”
Protests erupted. People began shouting “what is government doing, where is government sleeping”. In every sentence government found the mention. In newspapers op-eds theme shifted from political crisis to power crisis. Suddenly government seemed to regain its relevance. People needed it. People asked for it. And the alleged head-of-the-government whooped in his house, because the spell of indifference broke down. He needed people: asking for the government; demanding from the government; for him to be relevant.
At home on his velvety couch he jumped in joy and yelled out “Grandpa, you are genius. Thanks for the gift”.
(Muhammad Tahir is presently a student of International Relations in IUJ, Japan.)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST
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