Before you read this, I have a request. Please get a tissue or a hankie. Because I have news that is bound to make you weep.
Got it? Okay then, here’s the news. I’ve decided to quit this fine newspaper even though it is the only one in the country lunatic enough to employ me, and join a major international fashion magazine as its resident cover girl. Which means that this column may be the last you’ll ever get from me.
Not that I’ve been invited by any major international fashion magazine to be its resident cover girl. It’s just that I believe, when I send them photographs of the way I look today, that their respective Eds will leap off their chairs, zip to the airport and trip over each other in their mad scramble to get to Mumbai first and sign me up instantly for the post.
Because today, I am awesomely, magnificently, totally coordinated, from head to toe. To begin with, my head is swollen because I was informed last night that it isn’t only my mother and Ye Ed who read my column. University professors also do. Well, one university professor does. And okay, he read it by accident once when he ordered bhel puri and an HT Comment page with my column happened to constitute the bhel puri’s plate, but still.
So I have a swollen head that matches perfectly with my swollen nose and swollen eyes — the results of a cold caught in what is, I believe, the hottest December in Mumbai in years (gosh, I feel like a walking miracle). And that matches perfectly with my swollen body, the result of years of good food and drink combined with the strong belief, held since my infancy, that the best way to enjoy books is to read them in the horizontal position, i.e., lying down, and perennially, i.e., non-stop.
So here I am, all coordinated, convinced it’s going to lead me to a brighter future. And I’m wondering how I can transmit that sense of optimism to Pakistan’s leadership, which seems to be suffering from an incredible lack of coordination — saying one thing when pressured by the West, and doing other things altogether.
It’s been interesting, the last few days, to watch the leadership in a nation that knows very well what goes on in its own territory pretend that no such things happen. Interesting, but baffling. This can’t be good for them either, so why don’t they do something about it?
It’s unlikely that I’ll get an objective answer to this question, so hopefully the book I’ve just bought will be some help. This is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power by the Pakistani writer and commentator Tariq Ali. I’ve only just started it, so I haven’t been enlightened yet. But it’s a history of Pakistan and an analysis of its current problems, and believe me, once I finish writing this column, I don’t think I’ll be able to put it down.