Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 9

Happiness & Murder

“What makes you happy? What really is happiness?” asked Doggo while licking Naalaito (Haw?!? You don’t know what that is? Really? Refer to episode 7 please).

Kuttay turned around, took a deep breath and exhaled for what seemed like eternity and said, “Happiness is the smell of a book, a walk in an art shop … it is the smell of a freshly mopped floor, or knowing that there is sufficient water available in a water scarce society. Happiness is being able to witness the sunrise and also the sunset as it goes down the horizon … and being at the beach at the same time … and listening to the sounds of the crashing waves, that’s happiness! Happiness is a long walk in the forest and being able to clear your head as you walk, soaking your senses in petrichor. And … ah! Dessert … dessert is true love! Anything that can be defined as true love is happiness, though everlasting love does not exist; that my friend, you must bear in mind. Everything has an EXPIRY DATE. And of course, a cuppa hot coffee is happiness, although coffee prices are skyrocketing too which means that’s a paradoxical situation. Democracy as you will see does not want us to be happy! It wants to rate us … and so far it has rated us as third class citizens … they’ve done this to humans and let’s not even forget that we are dogs …”

Having found Doggo dozing off after this long lecture, Kuttay was infuriated and kicked him so hard that he went spiraling down in Nehr-e-Khayyam; for a moment it was as if he’s got wings. “Go say hello to the mermaids!” said Kuttay, already disgruntled about foreign tourists being able to avail this facility just because they were paying in Dollars and helping the county earn foreign exchange.

Within seconds, Doggo resurfaced panicking his life out. “Looks like you’ve seen a ghost. I’m certain it wasn’t a mermaid that would have freaked you out. So tell me what thwarted thee,” enquired Kuttay.

“I think I saw a dead human, there was handsfree tied around his neck with words written in blood on his shirt that read something about the victim and his WhatsApp voice notes!” explained Doggo.

“What was the colour of his blood?” asked Kuttay, “How come it didn’t get washed out? Who can commit murder in such a heavily monitored society?” He was of course, flabbergasted and moved by such a rare crime.

“I think the colour kept changing as if the murder had been committed by the Canterville Ghost (Oscar Wilde), this time, along the banks of Nehr-e-Khayyam!!!” said Doggo, trying to make sense of it all.

“Once upon a time, especially in the 90s, dead bodies used to be packed in sacks. Now who would dump a human in the absence of proper packaging? Is this the extent of going plastic free now?” mentioned Kuttay in a manner of a rhetorical question. No-bhai-no-sack-situation seemed much thought provoking indeed, as Kuttay read out Oscar Wilde’s words aloud:

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace ...”

Given the crystal clear water of Nehr-e-Khayyam, one could see the dead body conspicuously lying in its depths. Both dogs alerted the authorities about what they saw as they whimpered all doe-eyed and pointed towards the perished human. As a reward, they were given a Naalaito each, although it was no longer a prized possession post imports of organic tomatoes from Iran. Iran really did rescue the helpless chicken karhai for us Pakistanis, didn’t it? Irani petrol was already routing its way in Balochistan through grey channels, this time all channels were up for some tomato loving.

The next day Naala Leaks’ front page brandished the headline, blatantly mentioning: “Dead body found in NeK, Cause of death cited as sending countless WhatsApp voice notes”

Apparently the murderer, a rather frustrated ‘routine based person’ had left a waterproof, hand written note, explaining why they did what they did. This included being sent unnecessary and daily dozen voice notes on WhatsApp when typing could have been a better alternative and thus questioned whether the now-dead-person didn’t have fingers to type. Hence, all his fingers were missing to prove that he really had no other option than to send voice notes and the murderer had no other option than to murder him as he/she felt their personal workspace being invaded through voice notes which could have been typed notes instead … not-such-a-LOL-situation now! The offender therefore thought it wise to asphyxiate the victim with their own handsfree that was used to listen to those good-for-nothing voice notes. The person also expressed remorse for parting ways with an original handsfree.

“Remember, Doggo … everything has an expiry date, every relationship too has it besides having its limits to begin with. God knows what this person’s relationship with the victim was but it seems profound,” said Kuttay, “Sometimes relationships expire while two people are still living while other times, these have quite a posthumous disposition, meaning only death parts them and ends relationships.”

“You sound like a writer today; it seems as if Naala Leaks will designate for you a column on a weekly basis for stories under ‘Murder he wrote’ or ‘Murder his canine-ness wrote.”

“You are too naïve to understand life, my friend,” said Kuttay, “Just remember what Charles Bukowski explained - "What makes a man a writer?" "Well," I said, "it's simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”

Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 8

Fazlu is in the air …


White-throated kingfisher found at Nehr-e-Khayyam (well, supposedly)

Nehr-e-Khayyam was overshadowed by the thick smog that took over most parts of the country like a memory of a deceased loved one still lingering on because you couldn’t meet them one last time while they were still living. Breathing in was difficult, yet breathing was inevitable … everyone was going to die anyway … sooner or later!

The morbidity level of the lines above is as toxic as the air quality index aggravated by smog … the purple level (yes please Google it! Thank you).

Moving on, the presence of Nehr-e-Khayyam still made it all manageable, thanks to the refreshing vibe and an amazing ambiance its existence brought forth.

“Fazlu is in the air, every newspaper I pick around,
Fazlu is in the air, like the smog toxicity around.
And I don’t know if he’s being foolish,
Don’t know if he’s just being mad,
Don’t know if he’s just being himself …
But it's something that I must believe in,

and it's there when I look at your cross section …” sang Doggo (with apologies to John Paul young) while staring at the half eaten, stolen naalaito (naala tomato … oops, canal, you may refer to the last episode to get enlightened about naalaito).

 “Doggo, you silly, silly … SILLY dog! Have you been fooling around with my precious playlist again?!” blurted Kuttay, “He cannot be in the air unless he is a helium balloon which he isn’t … he’s too heavy even for the ground. And that is something that you must believe in!”

“Well, had he been a balloon, could he have exploded? I think he will implode one day, that time is near and let’s just hope it’s not a fissiparous reaction,” said Doggo, “Have you read the news? There is a Fazlu plan B - Fazloob, he’s coming to our metropolis … But there can never again be as charming a stunt as either of the ones pulled out by our ‘BHAI’ … oh those were the days my dear, when all used to live in fear. La, la, la … laaaa.”

As the canal police patrolled the area, they stopped over to check on the designated area where the dogs were. They had information about stolen naalaitoes which they acquired through tracking their RFID chips. Both Doggo and Kuttay had to immediately bury the naalaitoes they had stolen and of course their naaliato RFIDs had been disabled when stolen, which meant there were more thieves who were making hoarding difficult.

In other news, Fazlu had earlier decided to block all highways but the plan went in vain, considering his deprived ‘boyzes’ had decided to play hide-and-seek and got scattered around.

The weekend magazine, ‘Naala Leaks’, in a suicidal attempt once again did a cover story titled, “The chronicles of the establishment and disbandment”. While highlighting Fazlu (not that any physical space is ever enough for him), the anonymous news reporter mentioned that he and his little minions had been blocking highways, thus affecting the revenue generated through the toll tax because of which the last installment of IMF’s loan was being disrupted. The government had therefore decided to sign the so called ‘understanding’ with him based on which he would be allowed to scuba dive in Nehr-e-Khayyam and meet the mermaids there as a recreational activity… much to the horror of those mermaids – poor, pretty, pretty innocuous souls. The inside story revealed that he will try his luck at scuba diving for the first time in his life, have a eureka moment and drown inevitably while the government took measures to contain Tsunami. Meanwhile, the ‘established government’ had sent all of the city’s lifeguards and divers on vacation in Thailand who would have come to save any disrupting object from drowning … oh well, naturally.

“Kuttay, let’s go to the beach, it’s been long … let’s gather our species and just go once and for all! It’s been ages,” said Doggo.

“Doggo darling why don’t you understand the simple facts of life? If you wait to gather your entire contact list, assuming that you will only enjoy in their company then you are wrong. First of all, the plan will keep on getting dragged until you decide to give up and secondly you don’t need an entire tribe to have fun, for you can enjoy even in your own company … your own self-satisfied, self-actualised existence! You don’t need anyone else to make yourself realise that, but your own esteemed self,” explained Kuttay.

“Okay, enough of Maslow here. You want me to become a snob … an introvert?” asked Doggo innocently.

“This is where you’re going wrong, you silly! Introverts and snobs are not synonymous to each other; sometimes even extroverts can be snobs. Well, to tell you the truth, the co-relation lies there more often. You need to be happy with your own self first to be later happy in the company of others. We are ambiverts as humans … err, even dogs I must say. Here, I want to share with you what the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius once said:
‘Men seek retreats for themselves - in the country, by the sea, in the hills - and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind, especially if he can dip into thoughts there which put him at immediate and complete ease ...'"

Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 7

Episode 7 – ‘The inelastic demand of tomatoes and the delusional Karachi winter’

Locust - Picture by Saeed Jamal Tariq

Life continued as usual, tourists continued being rated based on their capitalism streak and their best touristy behaviour. Nehr-e-Khayyam developed a tomato forest in the wake of the tomato shortage in the city and started auctioning these under the branding, ‘organic nehr fresh tomatoes’. Whoever was fortunate enough to afford these could enjoy their curry with a taste of the canal … that some still shamelessly called naala (naughty, naughty)!

Karachi had turned cold or so some Karachiites thought … tax paying wishful thinkers.

There was a long queue with each tourist waiting to buy a serving of the day’s specialty – locust biryani which has been cooked post locust attack in the city. Rumour had it that the authorities had planned this attack so that they destroy all tomato fields while selling their tomatoes at ridiculously high prices. Such tactics were not new; they had also cordoned off Churna Island, disconnecting tourists from that spot so that they end up coming for scuba diving at Nehr-e-Khayyam instead.  Monopoly was charming indeed. 

Marsh harrier munching a locust - Picture by Waqar Mursalin

“Do you know how the world will end?” asked Doggo.

“Sometimes I feel that we are already living its end for it’s the after-end, just like the undead … we are perhaps living another chapter of the very depressing book, ‘The Brave New World’” said Kuttay, “My dear Doggo, it’s going to be in phases; there will be a machine apocalypse where machines will take over the world much like what’s already happening, then there is this issue of global warming that has taken Archimedes Principle a step further. Currently, we are going through what can be called the food apocalypse. Why on Earth should tomatoes be worth Rs. 320 and pine nuts worth over Rs. 8000?!”

“Ahh … reminds me of Time Trax I watched while growing up … Well, forget pine nuts! They are so overstated. I mean why create an inelastic demand for these nuts when you have walnuts or cashew nuts? It’s just a way of making theft worthwhile and going for those silly breaking news on every channel. Same will be the case with tomatoes soon …” Replied Doggo. “Did I tell you something? No I didn’t … I stole a NAALAITO from the forest!”

“You what?! Do you mean you stole a tomato from the naala?” exclaimed Kuttay in utter shock.

“YES!” giggled Doggo, “I hope I am not reduced to a mere news report of NAALA LEAKS mentioning, ‘Dog reprimanded for stealing tomatoes from Nehr-e-Khayyam.”

“You will have our species dragged underground!” exclaimed Kuttay, “These super-luxury tomatoes are monitored and tracked through an RFID chip and the naala authorities are already planning on patenting these! YOU ARE GONE! OH NO! YOU ARE GONE! WE ARE EXTINCT!”

With this, Kuttay burst into tears. Doggo continued grinning and couldn’t help his doggy demeanour and started licking his friend.

“Why are you so entitled and classist and prejudiced that you think that my brains are the size of a walnut and I cannot think for a moment before taking a decision? I stole the naalaito from a filthy rich tourist who has a rating of 4.8 … I had been following him since days and his rating on the nape had started glowing. The RFID whatever is disabled when these precious fruits are sold. I got in his way and looked at him with my sorry-for-nothing-puppy-eyes, that’s when he went in to get me stale bread and I stole the naaliato from his grocery bag pretending to be Adam Smith’s invisible hand,” explained Doggo.

“Here! I saved half for you … and your welcome,” continued he while pretending to be shivering in Karachi’s weather which according to some had become cold … cold to an extent that they had started wearing sweaters.

Kuttay landed a slap on Doggo’s head, “You’re welcome, not your welcome!”

“Stop living your name, you thankless animal, now you’ve also started nitpicking my Grammar in a manner of speech. GIVE ME BACK MY NAALAITO!,” demanded Doggo and snatched it away.

“Okay … sorry, please give. Pretty please,” said Kuttay while pretending to be begging which he wasn’t since he was among the pretentious, society elite that looked down upon pye-dogs, forgetting that they were one of them. The elite were just going through a shift from being part of the British colony to being set free, all the way towards now being part of the CPEC colony.

Doggo returned the completely licked, juicy naalaito to Kuttay, along with a hug for the fool that he was, not knowing that they were both being watched … big brethren were watching. The export of A-rated dogs to China had not ceased to exist, it was just a matter of time that they both became A-rated.