Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost in Translation

Sarfraz Ali

Few days back I happened to I spend two days at district jail Gujrat, not because I was a journalist but owing to my relations with a close friend of mine. At about 1:30 am I got off the bus. Apparently I tried to look confident, as all the rickshaw drivers wanted me to board their vehicle. Their apparent reason of interest was not a secret for me. But to who should I go was a difficult option. Anyhow, I moved towards a rickshaw, which was standing at a little distance. I bargained with the driver but he made me surrender just for two things, his poverty and hatred for President Musharraf.
Soon I was running fast sitting inside the mini-cab Baboo Ge' why are you going to jail at this hour of night, the driver asked me with such innocence as if I was going to the Paradise. My friend is jail superintendent here I replied from the back. Really Baboo Ge! His wonder was profound. Perhaps he could never think of such a relation. After this short conversation a pause ensued. The two-stroke vehicle pierced through silence. The night too was lying pregnant to beget a new day. All the streets were under my deep observation being the city an old kingdom of the former chief minister. Every sight was desened except the billboards used during the last election campaign. One hoarding appeared so mighty that the whole city seemed to be under its shadow. A giant sitting on it pretending to be the Quaid-like leader was giving a conspiratorial smile. Probably challenging us both, would you get the judges re1nstated Remember, I am stifling connection with the man in strong boots. The driver just looked towards him with fierce eyes. The whole blood rose to the veins of his retina and he was burning in anger. Another sign bcard carrying the picture of ever-eloquent speaker and former prime minister made me giggle. I could remember ZA Bhutto's speech where he had torn into pieces the resolution in the Security Council. One making the world leaders fears of his words and the state he was ruling, the other making sure that people could just understand him. One leader known worldwide because of his versatile dressing, the other doing press conference wearing dark glasses at mid night. My God! By whom we have been being ruled over the last many years. Another unique feature of this politician, which hits me hard, is his fluency in speaking. Over the years different races, especially in our region have been facing problems of accent and intonation while talking in target language. But this man is facing the same problem even speaking in Punjabi. As far Urdu Is concerned, he is helpless. Suppose BBC or CNN correspondent talking to him live, my goodness! An interesting experience for non-native speakers around the world. But being a politician he too has got a mind to escape from such mind-boggling embarrassments. I daily wait seeing him during a press conference on some English news channel. Would he ever expose himself to the public seems a difficult question.
Lo and behold another board reading, 'Parha Likha Punjab'. I laughed out of my ribs. Thought of THAT speaker was still haunting me. Did this slogan benefit him a bit expecting something good out of it for a common man was just a sheer foolishness? In fact it was an election campaign launched with farsightedness by the short-sighted politicians. Messages and pictures of two exsaviours of Pakistan inscribed on every textbook was In fact an idea being given to the next generation. The poor people having no bread and shelter took it as the blessing of God whereby they were provided free books and milk packs too. Who were to be provided with the milk but who got fat and healthy is another story for this I am not blaming the saviours; it was between the teachers and the taught.
Billboard? Yes, it was hoisted at the middle of the chowk heralding some ones slogan or ideology. Some eight to ten heavy tube lights were actively engaged in making the motto cleat~ But alas! All such awareness at the cost of two lives in city as per day because of scorching heat. Are Chaudhrys themselves educated?
Another signboard was feeling light having the portrait of a young politician. Saviour of yours and mine! He might be educated in appearance but as far as the Ideology Is concerned he too Is traditionalist like his forefathers.
This clan lost badly in the polls that too in their own kingdom. Imagine power of the ruler and the ruled! How foolish the clever people are the driver commented. We concluded the same. That was what I was convinced of while hiring the rickshaw.
After a short but noisy distance, the hue and cry came to an end. Like many others, I too disliked presidents rozgar scheme owing to the quality of the livelihood being provided to the poor.
I knocked at the big door installed in the wall of the district jail. An old, thin and starved policeman appeared from behind the door. His shank was hardly able to support his weak body. Dressed in grungy uniform, he was exhausted to a skeleton. His bullet less gun was far heavier than his body. Doesnt this credit go to Chudhrys Surely it does.

The article was published in Sunday Plus (TheNation) on June 22,2008

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