Our Twisted World…

Our Twisted World…

Our Twisted World… 150 150 Comfort Aid International

There was a time in my adult life when I had to fret about keeping my travel itinerary straight. Where am I going next? Have I have met all the visa requirements? Will I make the connecting flights without bursting my hernia? Is the fare within my increasingly stretched budget? Now, I worry about all these issues alright but have the added burden of fussing about COVID19 tests and the ballooning costs associated with it. It takes the equivalent of a Ph.D. – almost – to master which country will accept what test in what time period and in what format.

Our twisted world…

Now, I am off home to Sanford in Florida to take care of some important personal business, get vaccinated against the accursed Corona Doodo, and meet with fellow CAI Trustees to discuss the increasingly edgy matters related to the security at our Afghanistan operations. The impact of increasing violence and welfare of CAI personnel in this luckless country give me many a sleepless night. So, my government has gone in there, kicked some butts, and are now leaving, seemingly unable or unwilling to fulfill any of the promises of peace, reconstruction, reconciliation, political reform, or sustainable development fulfilled. Instead, Afghanistan is, once again, on the precipice of total disintegration. A country divided, poor, corrupt, with inept leadership, unimaginably violent, and with a battered infrastructure, even after throwing over 2.5 trillion dollars of our tax dollars. This is trillion, with a ‘T’; it looks like this – US$2,500,000,000,000. Mind boggling.

Our twisted world…

I’m fortified with a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine taken at the TRS clinic in Houston, TX. The nurse jabbing me puts the fear of Allah in me, telling me I’ll have all sorts of side effects, except death, in about twelve hours. Fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, chills, runny nose. I wait for disaster anxiously, since I’m in the middle of extensive travel. Alhamd’Allah, I feel nothing except anxiety; I wish she had kept quiet and not given me the side effects lecture.

Our twisted world…

I’m flying all over the world again, feeling, falsely, suddenly liberated. The US CDC says I am safe from getting the Doodoo, and even if I did get it again, I will not end up in a hospital. So, I am cooling my heels in a shabby Dubai hotel, minding my own business, trying to avoid the furnace of 120 plus degrees F outside when Mullah Mchungu’s number flashes on my cellphone. I’m in no mood to talk to him, so I ignore it, but I know I’ll have to answer him eventually since he is as persistent as a bulldog once he has his false teeth in me. I sigh resignedly and answer.

Salaam Mullah Saheb. How are you?

Kisukaali, he rasps, sounding breathless, do not worry about how I am. You don’t really care, so why ask? Saala ghadhero, can’t you answer me promptly when I call? Did you hear? Yusuf Khan just died. Finally. The man lived to be 98!

I wreak my brains trying to place that name. Sounds familiar. My heartbeats quicken. A long-lost friend? A relative?

Who Khan? I ask fretfully.

The Mullah clucks his lounge impatiently. Aree, what world are you living in? Yusuf Khan. The actor. Dilip Kumar. Bollywood, you know? Mugle Azam, Devdas, Baabul, Ram aur Shaam.? The Dilip Kumar? Dead! 98! How did he manage that? I’m having problems with a misbehaving bladder and I’m not 80 yet! I guess having Saira Banu by your side helps…

The old hen snickers. I relax and breathe easy. Not a relative or someone close.

ELWER, I say. What else can I say?

Aree ghadhero, that’s all you can say? ELWER? This is big-time news! He was a great personality of my time. He could act, not like the kachra lot you now have.

I feel a sudden rush of irritation. Mullah Saheb, I say with steel in my voice. So, he’s died, so, he was a good actor. Good for him. I did not benefit a measly dime from his acting. All of us will die, yes? Even you. And me. Even the Prophet (s) died.

There is a pause while he digests this fact. I know I’ve nailed him. I can hear him breathing heavily at the other end.

So now you are a philosopher, Kisukaali? You are lecturing me on life and death issues? I am an elder to you, you know? Show me some respect…

Jeez.

Our twisted world…

I am about to hang up when he blurts out. So, did you watch the massive fight on YouTube?

The change of topic startles and perplexes me. What fight? There are trillions of fights on YouTube. Boxing spars, verbal fights, street brawls, political conflicts, wars? I want to give him an immediate witty response but I bite my tongue. I may score on wit but eventually, pay dearly on time wasted.

Aree, the big fight in Mumbai. Between the Khojas and the Sayeds of Mumbai. As if there are no dearth of perplexing issues that we Shia’s have to grapple with, it’s now a fight about burial rights. It’s there on YouTube. A tamasha for the world to watch and snicker away gleefully. Exceedingly shameful. Seasoned veterans of the Khoja community fighting over burial rights and control. It’s not enough that the Khojas will not bury a non-Khoja in their ancestral kabrastaan, now the Khojas and Sayeds are tooth and nail over the control of land allotted in Mumbra by the Maharashtra State government. Even if the Khojas have the upper hand, have virtually won over the project, and are well qualified to manage this land, do they have to fight like savages in the open? The Khojas assume they are a special breed, the Sayeds think they are the chosen ones, the others think both groups are wacky, and the rest of the world looks on and knows we are certain fools. You should be ashamed of yourself Kisukaali. You know the people involved and yet you say and do nothing? Spineless as usual…

I think I turn redder than a Lushoto plum at the accusation and insult except it won’t show cause of my blessed tan, and bristle with rage. I have seen the dreadful videos. If the matter was not so profoundly serious, I would be in stitches. But all I felt like doing was to barf watching it. Yes, I remotely know the key players in this charade, but I will not touch the dispute with a mile-long pole. The Khojas refusing burial or marriage rights to non-Khojas in ‘their ancestral’ assets are heinous and reprehensible acts. I don’t care about the provisions made by the long-deceased donors. The imposed conditions are wrong. Period. But I am hardly the person for arbitration; my temperament and impatience would have driven Gandhi and Mandela to suicide. I am so mad at the old cow for the unreasonable accusation that I am tongue-tied for a few seconds. I know that what I say will be highly flammable, based on emotion rather than logic.

Allah hafiz Mullah Saheb, I say tersely, have a good day.

And hang up.

Our twisted world…

ELWER – To Allah, we belong; to Him, we return.

The views and opinions expressed in this Blog are entirely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Comfort Aid International or her Trustees.

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