By Rashid Mehmood
Jimmy was coming to Pakistan for the very first time in his life span of twenty two years. He was born as Jamshed Malik but his friends back in Texas would prefer his nick name as his Pakistani skin tone was more than too much for them to cope with, and post 9/11 society in US has a profound phobia against Muslims and any hint to Jimmy’s identity could have had obstructed his ability to blend into American culture, so he himself preferred his Americanized version later in his adulthood too. His Pakistani born parents had told him so much about Pakistan that he was unable to live with his curiosity anymore and decided to see his ancestors’ land himself during college summer break. His mind had kept him occupied with his recollection of his parents’ stories about Pakistan during his long flight from Houston to Karachi.
The plane has finally landed and it is the time for him to experience what it is like living in Pakistan. He was advised to wait at the lounge till his uncle sends his driver to pick him. The large LCD screen was showing a news channel in which a glamorous model was shown coming to court for a hearing. It was regarding a money laundering case which is undoubtedly a serious offence anywhere in the world but the background score depicting an Indian dance track was suggesting otherwise. He saw someone approaching the lounge with a welcome board bearing his name, Jamshed Malik. Jimmy collected his luggage and waved his hand to draw that person’s attention. He was his uncle’s driver who had come to drive him home. He took luggage from Jimmy and led his way to the parking.
“Driver, please turn on the radio”, asked Jimmy.
The loud voice of an RJ took over the silence in the car. The RJ was repeatedly greeting and reminding listeners about his name with some item song playing in the background. So Jimmy realized that Pakistanis are in love with Indian item numbers as almost every radio station was playing them that Jimmy tried tuning.
“Can you help me with some news station?” Jimmy disappointedly asked after giving up on his tries.
Fortunately there was no item numbers this time and an hourly bulletin was about to begin. The bulletin was all about political allegations, malpractices of a news corporation, some sports and especial focus was on the court proceeding on money laundering case in which a glamorous model was accused.
“Turn off the radio”, besought irate Jimmy and went on to start a conversation with the driver.
“So what’s your name?” Asked Jimmy.
“I am Gulab Sahib Jee”, hurriedly replied driver.
“Don’t you take shower or wash your clothes? They are so unclean and you stink big time!” Jimmy inquired while trying to put away stink with his hands.
“Sahib Jee there is an immense scarcity of water in the city, we hardly fetch water to drink. Who won’t like to take shower every morning?” Gulab replied in despair.
“That’s strange, no such thing was on TV nor on radio!” Jimmy contended with wonder.
Suddenly the car stopped at a traffic signal and a guy who was as young as six to seven years of age emerged before the wind screen with a cleaning wiper in his one hand and a bunch of newspapers on the other and started washing the screen without asking. Upon finishing the job, kid knocked on Jimmy’s window and demanded money. Jimmy gave away a crispy thousand rupees note that he had exchanged at airport.
“Sabib, please buy a newspaper too! There are awesome pictures of that item girl in today’s publication”, Pleaded the young guy with dearth in his eyes.
“Don’t you go to school?” Asked Jimmy while handing over another currency note for a newspaper copy.
“Thanks Sahib! But schools are not for poor”, replied kid with a complex smile on his face.
“No such thing was on news!” Jimmy murmured while looking at the pictures of the same dazzling model on the main page. **********************
After reaching uncle’s place, jimmy took rest and joined his uncle’s family on dinner.
“So Uncle, how’s your business going?” Asked jimmy.
“Young Man, it’s just going you know the power crisis and deteriorated law and order condition! But you don’t worry as you have US nationality”, replied Uncle Azam with a loud laugh.
“And aunty I heard you are working with a not-for-profit organization”, Jimmy turned toward his aunty Rozina.
“Yes Beta Janu, Our NGO works against prevalent child labor practices and also helps women with their maternity complexities. You know each year thousands of women die while giving birth to young ones”, replied aunty in a passionate manner while shouting AMJAAAAD!
A badly dressed young kid appeared with a jug of water in his quivering hands.
“How many times I have told you to bring water before maid serves the dinner! Want to work or should I throw you away?” Scolded aunty.
“Sorry Baji, I will bear this in mind next time”, apologized young servant and disappeared quickly.
“Jabir, turn on the TV. It’s time for my favorite talk show”, Uncle to his eldest son.
As soon as the anchor concluded his opening remarks, the participants started shouting at each other while anchor appeared amused and delightfully announced a news break. The headline began with the news story of that glamorous model with another Mujra song in the background. Uncle and my cousin was making sure that no one blinks an eye until this story ends and remained focused.
“See Pakistan has so much talent”, Complimented Uncle with allusive eyes.
“She can easily win Miss World Pageant. She is simply amazing and better than most of Bollywood actresses!” Contributed Jabir with an unmatched urge.
The bulletin ended with the news of a cricketer’s marriage while Punjabi Tappe playing in the background.
The talk show resumed after the news break but participants were not at all looking relaxed and each one of them wanted to shout so loud that other person becomes inaudible.
“If we come to power, this glamor queen would soon be behind bars”, Assured an opposition lawmaker.
“This glamor queen is just a hoax launched by opposition to discredit our government”, replied government lawmaker.
“No Brothers, she is actually a spy who works for all enemy agencies namely, CIA, RAW, Mossad and KHAD, to dismantle our land of pure”, added a cleric cum politician with tea mug in his hand.
“I don’t understand why all these politicians despise such a glamorous talent”, objected Jabir while looking at his father who appeared fully agreeing with his son’s heartfelt objection.
Jimmy walked toward his bedroom while thinking that a country that has no water, no electricity, 25 million kids out of school, laboring and living as street arabs, deteriorating law & order situation and poor health infrastructure that is killing mothers and young kids, still no bulletin or talk show has space for real issues.
It is indeed sad that our politics and political movements were always focused away from issues concerning masses, so now are our news media that have become sources to entertain masses by spicing up news with Indian item songs and caught up glamor queens. Why would they care if out-of-school kid is selling their newspapers or their bulletins lack issues faced by ordinary people? They are only concerned with the profits, whether it takes item songs or shouting politicians. At the end of the day, they are good salesmen!
About the Author: Rashid Khan is a Web Journalist and a social activist with focus on global conflicts and role of religion in the Muslim societies. He is also the co-founder of the “Council for the protection of Worship Places, Pakistan” and tweets as @RashidGujjar