The Proverbial Line


They do think black and white, well dark and white. The fact that it takes 190 years for the British to eventually leave their Jewel in the Crown just shows how easily the "darker" world can be manipulated. It is not even an organised military, but a clever multi-national company (MNC) that takes over a whole sub-continent. Good thing that there is no New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and even if there is an NYSE, the East India Company (EIC) deliberately would not list itself there (as there are plenty of boot strapped funding—funds obtained as booty from strapping the booted… and even if it is listed, this is the time before the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and even if there is the FCPA, EIC would easily Mir Zafarify FCPA into the bounds of full compliance.

Hence, it is a pushover to consolidate the enjoying of lemonade and long afternoons by way of fancy titles, handsome pittances and toothless authority in limited territory for those in the dark. The Silence of the Lambs last a good century till the have nots, the enlisted locals in uniform revolt. The British call it Sepoy Mutiny, history calls it the first call to boot out the boot-strappers. But it is quickly quelled through the 1857 version of a Facebook feed on the cartridge of the Enfield Rifle which has to be pulled with the mouth. It is also the 1857 version of boosted and targeted Facebook marketing, for the "news feed" for Muslims is that the cartridge is made of pig skin and that for the Hindus is that it is made of cow skin. The British Raj goes through its first renewal in 100 years and is now good to go for another 90.

Nineteen-forty-seven. They leave with pomp, ceremony and Kohinoor but ensures we start no cat fight. The infinite wisdom of the departing sahibs deems the Jewel in the Crown be carved out into smaller pellets through territorial demarcation along religious lines. So what if there is another huge country in the middle? If there can be a much larger repository of salty water between England and Falkland under the same Union Jack, a much smaller ocean of salty sweat can very well work under the same crescent and star.  Sure, there is that little chunk called Kashmir, but it will work out just fine—look at East and West Berlin…

Let us not question the Anglo-Saxon wisdom of the forties where they have etched in stone that the cow "moos" while that from sub-continent "hambas", the feline "meows" while the desi counterpart "maos", the Golden Retriever "woof woofs" while the Shorail "ghew ghews", the pig from Old Macdonald's Farm "oinks" whereas one of the two carved out countries post 1947 doesn't even bring that animal into discussion though the Khan Bros, Ayub and Yahya, are the same proverbial species as in George Orwell's' Animal Farm. Aha, maybe the parting gift from M to M, Mountbatten to Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a draft copy of that very book, to be used as gospel.

But if religion is the line of demarcation, then we'd have just five countries based on the Big Five. Or, maybe eight, but, even with sects included, not the current 195.

Now that one of the Big Five are huddled into a land, well, two pieces of land borrowing two words form the Anglo-Saxon lexicon—East and West, now it's time to uniformize the language. Wait, what? I thought it was just Animal Farm, where did 1984 creep in? Even the Brits didn't mandate English to be the state language, but Sahib 2.0 (the Khan) and cohorts can't think how the obvious is not possible otherwise. Afterall, language is something that can be turned on or off with a flip of a switch.

They learn, the hard way, as the "second rate" citizens of the East pay the price. Ok, ok, so a "single" country can have multiple languages. So, the concept of multiplicity gets extrapolated into all other areas—economy, progress, promotion, recognition, status…where "all Pakistanis are equal, but some are more equal than others…"

In terms of numbers and popular votes, that is also the case, when the majority speaks with the representative of the majority far from being given power, is incarcerated.

That is the final straw. Time for a divorce, and unfortunately, a bloody one. Arranged marriage, more so with match-making made in England, doesn't work. Can't you see that it didn't even work with Charles and Diana and the absence of which is working fine with William and Harry (thus far)?

This is the story of just 1 percent of the earth's surface. The big colonial powers have pulled out the same rulers (no pun intended) and dividers from their own colonial geometry boxes. Well, at least it's good business—for the post-colonial MNCs called defence contractors…

Naveed Mahbub is an engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA and CEO of IBM & Nokia Siemens Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of ATN Bangla's The Naveed Mahbub Show and the founder of Naveed's Comedy Club.

E-mail: [email protected]

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