Exigent-messages, non-existent anecdotes: From Thanedar to Forester


For the past some days, whatsapp is abuzz with a news  of a Buzarg ( senior citizen) from Pakistan who has won a court case after 13 years’ long legal battle in a Pakistani court.  The poor man is seen standing in a photo alongside a BBC Urdu News logo & a 5000 rupee Pakistani currency note, conspicuously displayed in his hands, to attract the attention of the people to listen to his story which goes like this :. On winning legal battle, the judge congratulated him and in return wishing him well, the Buzarg said “Allah Aap Ko Thanedar Banadey” [tr. I pray God promote you to In-charge of a Police Station]  The Judge smiled at simplicity of the Buzarg & said, “Judge is higher in rank than a Thanedar”.  “No son, Thanedar is… “, the Buzarg said. “How?” the Judge asked. “It took you 13 years to decide this case, while 13 years before the then Thanedar had told me “give me 5000 rupees, I will hush-up the matter right here in the thana itself”, the Buzarg replied.  I couldn’t locate the story on BBC Urdu News website which means the story is untested. But, that is not the concern here. Even anecdotes or tall-tales sometimes provide good examples of the existing realities of the societies, which usually miss the media attention. It is quite probable that such anecdotal stories are invented & peddled among the people with that objective to grab their attention towards them. Here the message in the Buzarg’s  whats-app post is loud & clear, and it is important. The people with little or no scholastic backgrounds sometimes get the things around them better than many educated flock.  For a poor man like the subject Pakistani-litigant, the highness of a post didn’t come from that of a judge, or for that matter, from high ranking designation in the State hierarchy.  It came from its reality, its existence, on the ground. How it operated in the field? Its implementation. For him, the reality was the Thanedar could have solved his problem long before if he had greased his palm with 5000 rupee currency note. But he preferred legal course of action which consumed precious days of his life & hard earned money.  It is an aching but bitter reality of our societies. The countless people are tossed against these kinds of existentional socio-administrative faultiness.

There is an analogous anecdotal story from the valley of Kashmir. I don’t know whether it is true or false but we have heard it from our early childhood & it has been narrated & remembered by people through what is called verbal story telling. The story is of an Education Director of Kashmir in early 1960s. It was a time when higher posts in State hierarchy meant & mattered a lot in terms of social respect, recognition & associated-power they carried with them.  The post of Director Education was those days considered a very high ranking & reputed post in State Administration. But, an innocent Gujjar who met the Education Director had a different view about it. As a part of oral story-telling of anecdotes in Kashmir, it is said that in early 1960s, there was a Director Education, (name withheld as the story is not recorded & documented) who, on “compassionate grounds”, appointed the son of an extremely indigent Gujjar in Kupwara district as Chowkidar-cum-peon in a local school.  The poor Gujjar was extremely happy on his son’s appointment in the school & wanted to pay homage to the Director Education but didn’t know when & where. Much to his joy, the Director Education came on an official tour of the related Kupwara areas. The poor Gujjar was informed about the Director’s visit to his area. Feeling morally bound to pay Salaam & express gratitude to the Director, the poor Gujjar was guided by people to the Dak- Bungalow where the Director was staying for a day or so. He was given audience by the Director. The Gujjar said to him, in an emotional voice, with eyes watering & folded hands : ” Jenab Aap Ka Bohat Shukriya. Aap nay Mere betay Ko Nokri De kar, Muj Gareeb Par Bada Ahsaan Kiya, Meray Gar May Ab Chula Jalta Rahega” [Tr. Sahib, I’m deeply indebted to you for appointing my son in your department. Now at last, my family has got a bread-earner”. And, the poor Gujjar raised his hands in Dua & wished something for the Director which brought only smiles & laughters among the presentees ( officials & teachers ) in the room. He said “Sahib, Allah Aap Ko Guard Bana De”. [Tr. Sahib, May God promote you to Forest-Guard, eka Rakha]. The Gujjar was innocent .He did not know the sea of difference between the post of DE & FD? Sheer innocence. It is said, the Director too smiled at the innocence of the Gujjar & patted softly on his shoulder.

Those days we did not have internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp or other social media platforms, or for that matter, any robust Press except government controlled Radio Kashmir. So, the story, irrespective of whether, true or fake, would have made the rounds on the social media networking channels, the way above narrated Pakistani Buzarg’s story has been doing.  In between a long gap of several decades from 1960s till date, not much has changed for huge chunks of population of unprivileged, socio-economically backward, classes of our society. Still, for them, Rakha, Forest Guard, & Thanedar, are more important & power-wielding than a Director Education & a Judge, respectively.

M J Aslam is an  Author, Academic & Freelance Columnist




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