Dr Tahrirul Qadir sitting in his bullet-proof container and speaking to a big crowd in Islamabad. It’s the third day of his rally. As he speaks, an aide of his whispers something in his ear: ‘Sir jee, I just heard, Imran Khan has decided not to take part in the long march …’
Dr Tahrir gets excited and throws his hands in the air: ‘Mubarak ho! Mubarak ho! I have great news …’
The aide realises that Dr Tahrir hasn’t understood his message: ‘Sir, Tsunami Sahib has decided NOT to join you.’
‘Really?’ Says Dr Tahrir, his hands now stuck and still in the air. The crowd waits for him to give them the good news.
‘What about the Supreme Court?’ He whispers to his aide. ‘Any decision by it against the government today?’
‘No, sir,’ the aide replies.
‘What about MQM?’ Dr Tahrir asks. ‘Any thing they have said that I can use?’
‘Sir, MQM has sent another 20 dozen oranges.’
‘They’ve promised to send another 20 dozen tomorrow …’
‘I don’t care how many dozen …’ Dr Tahrir lashes back, his hands still in the air. ‘Give me something to tell the crowd. Now!’
‘Sir, the oranges are imported. Very tasty.’
Dr Tahrir grumbles and turns to the crowd: ‘Mubarak! Mubarak! I have great news. Oranges! Ripe, rosy, imported … Oh for heavens sake!’ He turns to the aide again. ‘Give me something, or I’ll fire your sorry backside!’
The aide gulps. Looks worried. Dials a number on his cell phone, his hands shaking.
‘Come on, come on, come on …’ Dr Tahrir clenches his fists, and grinds his teeth.
‘Sir!’ The aide says. ‘The army!’
‘Yes, yes, what about the army?’ Dr Tahrir asks excitedly. ‘Is it on the way? Has it taken over? Tell me, tell me …’
‘No, sir, but it can.’ The aide replies.
‘What do you mean it can?’
‘Well, sir, you know, the army can take over …’
‘Well, sir, today, tomorrow, the next year, two years, 20 years, 50 …’
‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Dr Tahrir half-shouts at the aide. ‘Call Altaf Bhai!’
‘Sir, I did. He was in a meeting with the government.’
‘With the government? Why?’
‘Sir, because his party is part of the government.’
‘I hate oranges!’ Dr Tahrir slams a fist on the table.
‘No, call him and tell him that.’
‘Yes, sir. I will. What else?’
‘I have to say something to the crowd. Call the meteorological department. Ask them if it’ll rain today.’
As the aide dials on his cell phone, Dr Tahrir turns to the crowd: ‘So, yes, Mubarak ho, Mubarak ho! Oranges. Big, fat, juicy oranges. And the army. Yes, our great, patriotic, democratic army. Today, tomorrow, two years, 20, 50 … ‘
He stops and whispers to his aide: ‘What are they saying? Will it rain today?’
‘Sir, they are saying there is about 30 per cent chance of light rain …’
Dr Tahrir at once turns to the crowd again: ‘Yes, as I was saying. Good news. Oranges, army today, tomorrow, 20 years, 50 years, and rain! Did you hear that, people? Rain! 30 per cent chance!’
The crowd doesn’t respond.
The aide bends and whispers into Dr Tahrir’s ear again: ‘Sir, Chief Justice says he will peruse the Prime Minister’s case …’
‘But we already announced that yesterday. I want to announce something new today.’
‘Sir, Supreme Court can order the police to arrest the President.’
‘Sir, today, tomorrow, in two years, 20, 50 …’
‘You idiot!’ Dr Tahrir lashes back. ‘I think I’ve been taken for a ride …’ He says to himself, shaking his head.
And just as he is about to put down his hands, the aide excitedly gets on and off his cell phone, and is in Dr Tahrir’s ear again: ‘Sir, sir, great news!’
‘Sir, MuQ has decided to join the rally!’
‘Sir, MuQ has decided to join us!’
‘You idiot! MuQ is MY OWN party!’
‘Oh. That’s true. Hee hee. Sorry.’
‘Will someone get this idiot out of here!’ Dr Tahrir shouts, disgustingly. ‘Get me a new whisperer!’
A new aide arrives: ‘Sir, great news.’
‘What? Tell me, tell me is Tsunami coming, Altaf Bhai speaking, tanks rolling, CJP thundering, what?’
‘Errm … no, sir. But rain coming.’
‘But I already know that, stupid man.’
‘No, sir. Now 60 per cent chance.’
‘Blasted!’ Dr Tahrir throws back his head. His cap falls. A humming noise cuts across the crowd: ‘Mubarak ho! Mubarak ho …!’
The aide, now clutching a cell phone, interrupts.
‘What? Has the government been dismissed? ‘ Dr Tahrir asks him.
‘No, sir. It’s for you.’ Says the aide, giving the phone to Dr Tahrir.
‘Game over.’ (Click)
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com
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