E-scolding and the - Adiah Afraz - Sunday, March 13, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=35855&Cat=9

Okay, so the latest in the brief history of my colourful life as an opinion writer is that I’ve decided not to make fun of politicians any more. And the reason for this monumental decision is that for the past few weeks whenever I crack a joke at some politician, I instantly get a mailbox full of e-scolding.

Now, in case you are wondering at the meaning of this brilliant little coinage, ‘the e-scolding,’ let me clarify: Simply put, e-scolding would be the act of writing an email to an opinion writer, and generally advising her to behave herself or else...

So far my opinions have provoked a total of four e-scolders. Two of them are females, one a male, and one a highly offended individual with an undeclared gender. The strangest thing about all these e-scolders is that first of all their email IDs never match their given names, and second of all, by some strange coincidence, all my e-scolders have PhD degrees!

Now what exactly did I do to offend all these PhD holders, and that too from some fancy universities situated in all four corners of the world, is quite beyond my non-PhD comprehension. But still, owing to my unreasonable obsession with one day studying for a PhD myself, I have been rendered so respectful of all things scholarly, that I am, in fact, quite proud of my highly qualified e-scolders.

The only thing that bothers me about these people though is how and why all of them love our politicians so much. “Learn to respect your leaders,” says one of them, and then goes on to advise me to stop degrading the image of my country by being such a loudmouth of sorts.

Now conventional wisdom dictates that this sort of feedback should be ignored and not entertained. Yet, confessing to be quite devoid of wisdom (conventional or otherwise) and fully realising that the last thing my country needs to degrade its image, is me and my loud mouth, I have decided not to make fun of our politicians any more.

So, from now on, I will forward my writing career by just describing things I see. No opinion, no comments, no jokes. I Promise!

One last question though, before I embark on this journey of the descriptive kind. Would it amount to making fun of anyone, if I just describe the sports activity that took place among the leaders of this nation, in the courtyard of the Punjab assembly this Friday afternoon? Just describing, no opinion, no comments, no jokes, I promise.

So the first thing I saw when I turned on my TV this Friday, was a bunch of lawmakers brandishing lotas in the air, and crying out for somebody’s blood both inside and outside the Punjab assembly. And before I go on with the story, let me check if the English language has a word for this snouty utensil called lota in Urdu. Actually, this is a word so dense, and with multiple connotations, that despite having all the words of English at my disposal, and a few hi tech dictionaries as well, I am simply unable to find a synonym that conveys what a lota actually stands for in all spheres of our lives, both literally and metaphorically.

So this Friday session was all about lotas. There was lota in the air everywhere. On one channel there were some lota wielding individuals shouting slogans at the cameras, on another a PPP leader had taken to the mike and was weaving at length, an extended metaphor about the manufacturing procedure of the same lotas at the Ittefaq Foundries.

But the best of all activities was the lota match that was played in the courtyard of the assembly. Team A was a group of (mostly overweight) legislators, kicking around a couple of surprisingly sturdy lotas all over the place, while Team B comprised of a lone female adding her two bits to the game by hopping around without doing any particular good to the lotas or the match.

There was excitement in the air, and emotions were visible on the sweaty faces, toothy grins and flying kicks of these leaders of the nation. There were some feminine high fives with colourful little mini lotas fixed atop their fingertips.

That our female legislators have the time, the energy and the resources, in the present-day Pakistan of power shortages, inflation and fuel scarcity, to actually get these mini lotas custom made for grooming their chubby paws for a screaming session, is quite impressive, if nothing else. Inside the assembly, the same lota obsession prevailed. There was some serious artwork on display with the same snouty lota being waved on placards, Speaker Rana Iqbal just sat there with his head in his hands, and raised a plea for order from time to time, while the leaders of the nation hurled abuses at one another and generally behaved like Shakespearean wanton boys in quest of flies to kill.

Come to think of it, these are the same leaders of the nation who not very long ago had taken to hugging and shaking hands and signing charters, with a glorified will to take the country forward. What exactly happened in a mere 36 months to reduce the whole appearance of unity and loyalty to this mayhem?

Since I have vowed not to comment, may be my highly qualified e-scolders can enlighten me on this count.

The writer teaches writing at a university. Email: adiahafraz@gmail.com

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