Ignorance is bliss

December 07, 2017

I studied for fourteen years in a school, where English was taught by grey haired ‘goras’, who had refused to return home in 1947, having dedicated their lives to education. It is however now - after five and a half decades of leaving my alma mater that I have been able to understand the true meaning of the phrase that inspired the title of this week’s piece. To this end, my thanks go out to Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his coterie of PML N legislators. On a side note, I am also reminded of the individual, who spent the entire night listening to the great love story Heer – Ranjha and as dawn approached bringing the tale to its tragic end, floored the narrator by asking him if Heer was male or female.

The tiresome litany of the words “Mujhe Kyun Nikala” (much like a looped audio clip) appears to be affecting the disqualified Prime Minister’s larynx, which is demanding a long rest. The three words that run like a scarlet thread through every speech made by Mr. Sharif is enough for sane Pakistanis to ‘have a go at their hair’, but then the former Head of Executive is the ‘bhola’ of the Sharif Family, who doesn’t know why he was removed from office in spite of being convicted by the highest court in the land and charge sheeted by the Accountability Court for corruption.

Very recently a Ruling Party MNA went on air to state that his leader had no assets abroad. If Birbal (or was it Mullah Do Piazza?) had been alive and busy weaving the ‘charpoy’ at the cross roads in order to draw up a list of blind subjects in Emperor Akbar’s capital city, the name and credentials of this particular legislator, would have topped the inventory. (If some of my readers are not familiar with the story, I shall someday do a whole piece on it). Someone asked a lemming as to why did his kind, run across the Norwegian countryside, only to hurl themselves en-masse into the sea and oblivion, in what remains an unsolved mystery of the Animal Kingdom. The young rodent cocked his head with the words, “What cliffs? What sea?”

It is ordained that people get the type of rulers that they deserve. Sadly, the Pakistani nation at large epitomises this belief from the man in the street to the highest public office in the land. One small example appears to be a collective conclusion that we can get away with anything under the garb of feigned ignorance . I recently went to buy some rustic terracotta pottery being sold on a footpath in Islamabad. Close inspection revealed that some of the plates and mugs had chipped edges. I asked the owner to replace the items since they were damaged and added that he should have ensured that his wares were flawless before passing them on to the buyer. In response, I got a sermon on how a ‘car wallah’ was ‘riding over’ a poor vendor like him, who in his ‘ignorance’ had accidentally mixed the chipped items with the good ones. A little upset at the man’s attitude, I moved on to another display nearby and was shocked to see the ‘sermon-giver’ palm over the rejected items to another customer, who did not have the wisdom to check, what she was buying.

On my way home from work the other day, I saw a brand new SUV violate the one way rule in order to reach a service road in the Federal Capital. Coming from the opposite direction, I narrowly escaped being hit and remonstrated the middle aged, smartly dressed man in the driving seat, “I did not hit you, did I?” came the reply “and in any case I did not know that this was a one way street”. I could do nothing, but stare at the traffic sign a few meters away that boldly said ‘No Entry’, while an educated, well to do member of the community drove away without an iota of remorse on having lowered his esteem by first deliberately breaking the law and then feigning ignorance . I gritted my teeth and resumed my journey with the words “Mujhe batain, mujhe kyun nikala. Mera kiya kasoor hai” ringing in my ears.