My all time favorite spot for book shopping is a slum-ish back street in the shadows of the tall buildings in bank road, saddar. The place is packed with rows of book stores and old book banks providing a bounteous supply of all sorts of books. A quite corner where you can almost feel the aroma of books in the air. And of course, the place is a heaven for pirated book predators like me.
So yesterday while I was there, upon entering a bookshop I was greeted by a familiar face. It was there on the counter, on the front shelves and all the conspicuous display points. It was none other than Mumtaz Qadri, beaming proudly out of the front cover of a thick fat book. Like always, smirking smugly at his new found celebrity status. To my own surprise, this didn’t come as any surprise. Rather, it was expected. I picked up the book (pretty heavy) and leafed through it. The book titled ‘Parwana-e-sham-e-rasalat’ was a collection of all the glossy adjectives you can possibly find in Urdu literature glorifying ‘Ghazi’ Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. I placed the book back to the counter and took out my cell-phone to capture the image of the title. The shopkeeper, mistaking it as an act of some sacred intention (or perhaps a secret crush) broke into a grin and started ardently on the success of this book, pushing me into buying it ( no thanks, I don’t have haram ka paisa). I gave a sheepish no and headed out after tucking in a few titles.
The last big fish that was showcased like this here was Twilight.
Paulo Coelho in his book ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ writes:-
“Various biological studies have shown that if a frog is placed in a container along with water from its own pond, it will remain there, utterly still, while the water is slowly heated up. The frog doesn’t react to the gradual increase in temperature, to the changes in its environment, and when the water reaches boiling point, the frog dies, fat and happy.
‘On the other hand, if a frog is thrown into a container full of already boiling water, it will jump straight out again, scalded, but alive!”
The essence of these words merges quite well in our present state. A frog puts an enormous amount of trust in its environment. The pond is where it is hatched, where it embraces life and where it grows through the different stages of life. It’s his home, which for him holds synonymy with safety, shelter and security. Home. So when he is heated in the same pond water, he fails to acknowledge the lethal change. The water warms up. Indifference. Water further heats up. No adrenaline rush. The water temperature crosses red limit. The frog still certain the water cant cause him any harm. Water boils. The frog is dead.
The frog’s unconditional faith proved fatal.
We can also feel the vitriol of radicalization seeping deep down our social structure. We are well aware of the fact that the seeds of venom have sprouted to ferocious monstors; trampling here, there, everywhere. We can feel the water boiling but just like that frog we are in a state of constant denial. How can our own people be a threat for us? The truth is that we deem these people undisruptive. Just like a mother who adamantly believes her naughty kids have gone a little wild. Temporary. Temporary.
These days, hate literature is distributed like cheap sweet candies. The demand of blood is parallel to lets say electricity. There are people who are waging large scale campaigns encouraging the open slaughter of Ahmediya community. We are silent. We are indifferent. We are immune to the changes in water temperature.
Bloodshed isn’t the only jeopardy here. What these elements are up to is slowly and steadily poisoning our probity, corrupting our sense of values and sagacity. In this recent famous video, the Ameer of JUI (Jamat e Ulema-e-Islam) was stamping his feet urging frantically that raped women must remain silent instead of seeking justice (Idiot). Isn’t this enough to jerk us out of sleep, to make us realize that these self-proclaimed guardians of religion are a termite to our social and moral fabric? Can’t you smell the foul stench? Can’t you feel the water heating rather BOILING up?
I think not. We are ideologically brought up into believing ourselves the best of community (sharing the same faith). Out of a sense of insecurity, we were fed a crooked sense of patriotism and brotherhood-love each other, hate all rest. Yes we the glorious, we the innocents, we the ‘brave heart’, we the champions, we the just (the only ones), we the noble, we the dignified. And nowadays; we the wronged ones, we the misunderstood. But never wrong, never dangerous. Pick media, pick history, pick your own syllabus; the only hero in the picture is from us and the villain from them. The initial intention was to perhaps create some exceptional sense of unity and nationalism. It didn’t succeed, though what it installed in our minds was a strong overconfidence in our ideals, in our people, in ‘us’.
We don’t feel threatened because we lack the capability of doing so, the capability to feel the change. We, like that frog have a delusional sense of assurance for anything remotely related to us. The water is boiling, the alarms are ringing. It is better to come out of this situation scaled but at least alive. Otherwise, we will also die just like the frog-fat and happy.