Masters versus Maulana

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  • Witnessing the rise and rise of pulpit via politics of protest

 

Two years back, a different Maulana was at it. Today, in the here and now, another Maulana is at the government’s throat. How it will all end? All we have are our guesses and predictions. With fingers crossed, we all hope that it’ll end sooner rather than later.

People we meet and the suggestions they make, at times, can deepen, even alter our understanding of the world. It was Julia, a Russian lady married to a Pakistani who recommended that I read Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, the greatest ever Russian novel according to her. ‘What Bulgakov achieved in this novel is unlike anything offered by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky,’ she said. Being enchanted by the vastness and depth of Tolstoy’s prose, somberness of Dostoevsky’s many worlds, irreverence of Nabokov, dreariness of Gogol’s ‘Overcoat’, and Chekhov’s observation of human foibles and momentary triumphs I made a mental note to read Bulgakov.

I forgot and the time marched on. Recently, I found The Master and Margarita as I skimmed through the fiction section at Mr Books. The novel is about Woland, the devil and the havoc he wreaks on humans, Master, a historian turned lunatic and Margarita, Master’s love. For those interested in knowing more, they better give the novel a try. Suffice it to say, if we turn the whole novel on its head, we’ll have ourselves a near perfect allegory of the most talked about event which is happening in Pakistan during the last couple of weeks.

Our Master has all the attributes, powers and bent of Woland. He is a sinister, scheming creature who knows how to keep his audience on the edges of their seats. If it takes a kick in the shins, he’ll give it back. If it requires sketching a line dividing the same stock of terror in good and bad portions, he’ll draw it. If it asks for a plot to upend all schemes, he’ll lay it. All can be, should be, must be sacrificed at the altar to ensure and perpetuate supremacy. The partners keep on changing, the old allies are swiftly sidelined, and new darlings are quickly embraced. While, few enlightened ones gawk and gape as the majority lauds the tricks and ploys.

The crowds change, the leaders and their acolytes change but don’t for a second think that this difference substantially changes anything. Despite them hailing from even diametrically opposite backgrounds once provided with a movable dais, a mic, scores of loudspeakers, a hundred or more supporters they can, and just proved that they would bring the state to its knees.

Let us kill the urge of locating the puppeteer behind the ongoing events and unveiling the puppet master behind what transpired at Faizabad, two years back. The voices harp on their usual suspects as the military-bashing lot point fingers to the Gentlemen of Aabpara. Those sick and tired of government see someone else grinding his axe from behind the curtains.

In our land of the pure, whenever elections are just around the corner a nuisance rears its ugly head. Sponsored by the loads of money, paid by some invisible hand, pampered and reassured of backing and support these hordes descent from their crevices

In our land of the pure, whenever elections are just around the corner a nuisance rears its ugly head. Sponsored by the loads of money, paid by some invisible hand, pampered and reassured of backing and support these hordes descent from their crevices. It doesn’t matter who wins, as the game is not about winning. It is about maintaining sway.

To live for a cause is certainly the best way to bid adieu and achieve the zenith of life. There is also no denying that the question of right and wrong is only a question of perspective. It is how and from where you look at the world. The state, we were taught, does not discriminate among its children. All citizens are equal, Jinnah promised. Equal opportunities for all, our Constitution yells. Protection of life and property, the clause is still there in our supreme law. From where we see things and how they unravel, the perspective of state is skewed and eaten up by myopia. It slaughters the good for all to please the baton-wielding, hate-spewing few.

Long live the short-sighted Master who knows not that the game he plays does not follow the rules of chess. His pawns will take the rooks, the knights, the bishops and then, it’ll be their turn to pay the devil his due.