Love in theocracy

Naseer Ahmed, the writer

Love in theocracy

by, Naseer Ahmed

My lords, although this winter night is quite long, my story is not longer than this dark night. It is not just a story, it is a complaint and lamentation too,which this journey to the desert they call life, has made our destiny. This is story of disenfranchisement which we suffer in this scorching heat of injustice every day.

My lords, I did not have the courage to speak up in front of such wise scholars before today, because they teach us girls to keep our lips sealed and gaze down from our childhood to old age. We have become so used to veils that we do not find courage to speak up against the beatings and thrashings we suffer all our lives.

I have been worshiping the stubbornness and arrogance of those men who have damaged my heart, my mind and my life. That same girl, they love most, because she just obeys without questioning the orders. My lords, I would have lived all my life with this submissive patience had I not met a man with a bright face and glittering eyes in a dark alley. He looked like you in many ways but he was different from you, my lord, too. He was a stranger wherever he went.

He respected the customs of city, he participated in the pain and pleasure our city offers but his longing and seeking eyes turned him into a foreigner in his own city. I have not seen those glittering and glaring eyes anywhere else. My lords, like you, I have only seen people avoiding eye contact to conceal the complaints of empty eyes.

My lords, this happens because we value pretension of happiness more than happiness itself.His glittering, laughing, playing eyes looked like two beautiful divas that turned a graveyard into a garden and turned a funeral into a spring festival.That is something new in our city of sad, dim and frightened eyes. My lords, I am very happy that he thinks that I am one of those divas.
When I saw him first on a Sunday night, I knew I was no longer a piece of property,an estate and a stupid cow. When I saw him, I knew that I was just a person like you who has rights too.

I also knew that respecting my dignity and freedom is your duty too. He treated me as an equal. When everybody treats arrogantly and patronizingly, believing that arrogance and a false sense of superiority is a road to heaven, you come across a person who celebrates you, cherishes you and enjoys you as an equal, that person becomes the most important person in your life.

My lords, your disapproving frowns warn me that I must stop praising this wonderful man but I have nothing but good words and great feeling for him.

I liked whatever he said because he took me to new directions with love and care.
My lords, people like you taught me that because I was weak, it was my duty to obey the strong. They also taught me that I could not think for myself and I must obey the wise men.

My lords, you are wise and sagacious too but I laugh at your wisdom and sagacity.Your wisdom is like a slap in our faces, a two in one thing, an injury and insult package.

My lords, please do not get angry because I have unveiled myself and unveiled the truth. You have so many enforcers who could strangle me and my truth, but what will that benefits you in the end?

The handsome man I am talking about liked my straightforwardness very much. He encouraged me to express my feelings and thoughts, clearly, brightly and directly.
Your faces are full of anger. Obviously, you do not like my arrogance and insolence because I have violated the sacred custom of suffering silently. I am very sorry for that but when a thing starts,it never ends.
My lords, I have just loved and loved life since I saw him first on a Sunday evening. I have been very happy and enjoyed the pleasures life offers with him.And I have come to your honors today because I am afraid, your verdict might snatch love, pleasure and happiness from me.

My lords, we fight for what we think is precious in our life. If we lose this fight, we try to save our precious stuff by pleading for mercy and generosity.If these pleas for mercy do not work, we go for another desperate fight. Sometimes, we withdraw to some dark corner and mourn the loss of wealth of love and beauty.

My Lords, I would do no such thing. I would not quarrel with you because he said conversation is a lot better than quarrels. But he also said that fighting for freedom is the best fight. But I am a just a stupid and weak girl, I have no courage to fight with big mustaches and long wild beards. I would also not plead for mercy and compassion because I could see that very garden of mercy and compassion has become a desert due to abundance of wealth and power in this place. Besides, I could not disgrace the love of freedom, arrogance and defiance he loved in me by going for mercy appeals. I would be very ashamed of myself if I go down pleading for mercy. Living in disgrace is no life but a very slow and painful death. I would not lose my self- respect and beauty too because I still love myself and him.

What I would do is just tell the truth, the truth I know. I do not know whether it changes your perspective and opens your eyes to a new version of events. All I know is telling this truth is not only my responsibility but my need too. If you hear this truth out, there is a hope you might do some justice too. This truth might awaken your sense of responsibility too which might help you to rise above your personal interests.

My Lords, three years ago some of the wealthiest people of the city planned to build a housing estate for wealthy people. Some unelected people were deciding the city affairs too those days. They imposed themselves like some monsters on the city but claimed that they were best and beloved of the city. The pretension of love is often used to murder the true love, you know, my lords.These rulers of the city chose a site, a valley adjacent to a big forest.

This forest was full of various species of trees, bushes and animals. The congregation of birds near the stream was so lovely. The people of the city were accustomed to visiting that stream and forest to enjoy the diversity of life. They loved to hear the songs of those birds whenever they came to the stream. People loved these songs very much because these songs were a relief from the worrying noise of the city.

My lords, congregations of birds and congregations to enjoy life are the best congregations, I guess. The kinds of congregations you organize in the city grab away the beauty of life because those congregations rampage the possibilities of open minds and big hearts.

The forest was home of birds, livestock and wild animals. There is no justice in evicting so many animals from their homes in order to build palaces for the wealthiest of the town. You must not spoil the dances of peacocks for a vulgar wrestling match.
There were villages, homes and lands around the forest. The property developers demolished everything. My lords, although it is quite normal to pillage everything but a cruelty remains a cruelty and a common experience of pain does not reduce the pain. In the end, fire burns whether it is less or more.

My lords, when wealthy people unite, they just behave like a bunch of wolves,attacking a flock of sheep. The sheep become all haste and motion. They get confused, perturbed and frightened. They keep running and falling over wildly but they fall prey because they cannot defend themselves.

To cut a long story short, the forest was cleared, birds flew away, wild animals fell prey and livestock was sold very cheaply. The sheep kept grazing on the hills while trying to believe that imminent death was just a wild dream.

The man in that corner who is smoking is a forest inspector. He issued the permission for clearing the forest. He got his pockets full of dirty money; a reward for deviating from his duty, breaking his promise and ignoring his oath to the people of the city. He danced over the corpse of his professional ethics. He has come as a false witness against this brave man to win awards for truthfulness and honest conduct from your lordships.

Then came the turn of burnt offerings of the sacrificial lambs. The wealthiest planned to raze the villages and to take over the lands of poor people. The land officers got busy in changing ownership records of property. Those officers bought expensive lands on cheap prices by keeping the illiterate landowners in the dark about land value and market prices. The people who refused to sell their property were dragged to police cells and barracks. They kept these unfortunate people hungry, tortured them and forced them to sign the land documents.

That is how these government officials fulfilled their promise of saving lives and property of city people. They received money and land plots from property developers for betraying the trust of city people. Those officials who have ‘faith, unity and organization ‘engraved on their office walls transferred government property and the forests to the super rich. Thus,they strengthen their faith, stood united with the super rich and did not let organized wolves be scattered.

The pious priests of city also took advantage of this great sin. When property developers established the tent like beautiful mosques to placate the scholars,the theologians and preachers, they issued the certificates of piety and religiosity to these wealthy people. Thus, they baptized the injustice, filled their bellies with charity and rewarded the property developers with the blessing of God.

The courts also stepped in by legalizing this great robbery. They turned deception,fraud and robbery into legal rights of property developers. Whenever they could not find any provision in a law book to justify this injustice, they delayed the process. The case just turned as a long journey into night. But on the other hand when property developer wanted a speedy verdict, the cases were decided in moments.

A this point this man who you call rebel and dissident becomes part of this tale.This compassionate problem solver could not understand this basic fact that where everybody is cruel, compassionate people pay a very high price for their compassion. But people who love humanity cannot bankrupt themselves of sweet dreams. I tried to dissuade him but I could not. But it is very difficult to convince beloved. I just compromised and supported him. It seems that some detachment is necessary if you want to persuade people.

This man was determined to save the people who were being robbed. He obstructed the construction of palaces. But he could not stop the process. He brought the victims on street, received beatings and went to prison. He went to offices and court but he failed. It seems the failure is a destiny of good people in our city.

However,this man is quite stubborn too. He does not lose courage very easily. He will,perhaps, lose his life leaving me full of pain and sorrow but people with a mission are often very selfish. They do not care that their mission opens up a world of suffering for the people who love them. But I cannot blame him, if whole city is full of stupidity and cruelty, why should he forsake his love for humanity?

There must be somebody who we suffering people could be proud of. There must be somebody who could perform the duty of speaking truth. There must be somebody who could take the cross of pain and sorrow. Fortunately, the one who is doing such noble things in this city is my beloved lover. This is my misfortune that I would lose him due to your narrow mindedness and cowardice.

My lords, he collected so much evidence from office to office and place to place against these property developers. Somebody closer to a victim provided him original ownership documents. A bank clerk gave him details of all bribe transactions. A police officer provided detailed evidence of made up cases against victims. A disgruntled official presented him evidence of torture against original owners of property.

These small success stories convinced him that he would change the world with arguments and evidence. My lords, you know it very well the good person cannot fathom the depth of evil because evil baffles him.

He displayed the naivety and stupidity of asking liars to speak up the truth. But those liars took money to conceal his truth. One good man talked in whispers about property rights, human rights and consumer rights but soon they found him with broken limbs on main city road. My lords, you punish truth telling this way. Your generosity makes truth deaf, dumb, blind and lame.

Occasionally we city people see truth begging for mercy on high street but truth is not a good beggar because he does not know efficient ways of begging. For all his disabilities, he does not receive anything. He remains hungry dragging his broken body from street to street.

My lords, we have a few groups who call them protectors of civic rights in the city nowadays. A woman leads a one of those groups. She is my rival because she wants to have his love too. She is a greedy woman who is attached to these noble and beautiful causes just for wealth. I told this man what this woman was about. He did not listen to me because he thought she was devoted to human rights. She is a darling of powerful people in foreign places. Those powerful and influential people listen to her. This man presented all that evidence to that woman for she might publicize it using her foreign connections. He wanted to use her influence in foreign places to make things easy for poor victims.Besides, our city receives plenty of money from foreign places and when you want other people’s money, it is not easy to ignore their orders. But this wicked witch wants just to make money out of truth. She contacted property developers.

She promised that she would not let this evidence come out and they sent her four bags full of money. She just threw the friendship and human rights out of window.
Property developers also made up their mind when they could see that this man was not going to run away. This time they came up with a fake police case. A few day sago, one of the top gangsters murdered a young beautiful girl. Her mutilated corpse was found in a dirty water channel.

Everybody knew the murderer but they were busy in trying to find him. A mock search was set up. They could not find witnesses and proof as it happens quite frequently in our city. The property developers shifted blame of that murder to this man. Our city’s top gangster and top whore put their names as eye witnesses. This way town’s best man was sent to prison. An alliance of a prostitute and a gangster is always very dangerous, you know, my lords.

My lords, this man is not answering where he was when this grotesque murder took place. Although his silence is not evidence against him but silence becomes evidence if judges have made up their mind to punish him.

However,like his speech, his silence is a proof of his decency and compassion. Here silence is an irrefutable evidence of somebody being too good .Here I unveil myself and it is not a meaningless stuff.

There is a method in my madness of speaking up truth so loudly and so defiantly in this city of liars. Here in this wilderness, I long for cooling rain, this is also for a noble purpose. To cut it short, he was with me that night when that horrible murder happened. We were having fun in our secret garden of pleasure and our secret tavern of joy.We were having a wonderful sex that night. We were so lost in joy that it was impossible even to think of murder.

My lords, I know pleasure, pride, joy and generosity are unpardonable sins in this city. But my pleasure lies in saving his life even at the cost of my reputation and life. My lord, do not hang him please. Your city has possibilities when he is around. Whip me, stone me to death but please let him live because if he is alive, humanity in your city is alive.

What is this my lords? I am a daughter of super rich too. My confession is lot better than false evidence of gangsters and prostitutes. I know the extent of your cruelty and heartlessness very well but I still hoped that I might be able to rekindle some compassion in your dark hearts. There is no light here my lords, just darkness. My lords, you did not punish me and forgive him because he is supporter of downtrodden and I am the daughter of that man who you dine with.

My lord in the middle has a son who has shares with property developers. He is a friend of my father. My lord on the right has a nephew who runs a construction company which builds these palaces in that dead forest. My lord on the left has a niece who supplies construction material for construction of those posh buildings. There is my father in witness box. He leads this injustice and the most important beneficiary of this violation of human rights. He is on that place where everything looks quiet hazy apart from wealth. Love and daughter have become strange words for my father. His eyes are full of complaint against my disloyalty. He will be very happy when I would marry some stupid calf wearing silk and gold.

Oh my beloved, you are to me a sachet of myrrh, resting between my breasts. I would keep you in my tight embrace forever. The victims of abuse have found a friend in me who would support them as long as I live. These wild deserts of injustice are even narrower than the eyes of jealous for the woman who loves you. I would not say goodbye to you with sighs, sobs and cries as it is disgrace to your bravery. I would not let this bunch of gangsters and prostitutes to laugh at the pain of separation. For them, it is just a raised middle finger and a sarcastic smile that looks down upon cheap tyrants. They are useless and meaningless bunch in spite of all power and wealth.

As long as I am alive, I would strive to give back the decision power to city people. I would strive to protect their human rights, their civic rights and their consumer rights. I would work hard to support them in having their lands,forests and streams back. I would work hard to confuse and disorganize this bunch of wild wolves. They did not punish me because my father bribes them.They did not forgive you because you became the voice of voiceless. You spoke up for wounded. My life would be always populated with your memories
I would keep fighting against this bunch of wolves.

And your light. You are the best man in this town. Without you this city is nothing but a den of wolves. I salute your bravery and your love for humanity. Life is useless without you but I vow not to live without you a single moment.

My lords, it is useless to say anymore but I would say this that in this long winter night, in the den of wolves, two lovers did not sell each other for a few chestnuts.
The suffering, the victims and the sorrowful did not break their promise though wolves kept sneering at them. This is the first step where we the people of city will get our rights back. Oh my handsome beloved, fare thee well, I your beloved would be full of lamentations without you but I would keep fighting against this bunch of wild wolves.

(I wrote this one for Consumer Watch Pakistan.)