Saturday, May 9, 2009
The Duel by Tariq Ali
'Politics in a land of perpetual dictatorships and corrupt politicians is undoubtedly depressing, but with some positive aspects. For one, politics has revived an interest in stories from the popular literature of an earlier period of Muslim rule in the region.
First told by a sixteenth-century storyteller, repeated to me in Lahore in 2007, the following tale sums up, with a few modifications, life in Pakistan today:
A man is seriously dissatisfied with a junior magistrate's decision. The latter, irritated, taunts him to appeal to the qadi (a senior judge).
"But he's your brother, he won't listen to me", the man replied.
Then go to the mufti [ expert in Muslim law]! said the judge.
"But he's your uncle"
-"Go the the minister"-
"He's your grandfather.
-"Go to the King!"-
"Your niece is engaged to him"
The magistrate, livid with anger, finally says: "Go to hell then".
To which the man replied:
"That is where your esteemed father reigns. He'll see I get no satisfaction there either!"'