Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new type of programme comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was.•(Art Buchwald, “Adding Insult to Injury,” Have I Ever Lied to You?, 1966).
I stopped watching television regularly about three years ago. Then it took another year and a half before I stopped myself from watching too many dramas. From there the journey was tough. I had the choice between the News Channels and PTV. I chose the glamorous news channels luring me to see the difference and learn how life was to be lived. Truly and fully! I tuned in everyday and it was intoxicating. I was surfing for news and the news was surfing me. Until about a year ago, I was happily watching all the news I could till I turned pale with worry.
From there onwards, television took a turn and was busy showing graphic details of bombings that were rocking the country. From gory details to nauseated coverage, television became a nightmare. There is no age limit as to when one can pick or drop good and bad habits.
I gave up the bad habit of watching the news early this year and have suffered no side effects and I am seemingly doing well. I catch the important bits from the Reuters and the newspapers, which I am careful not to read in detail. My health comes first. I spend most of my time reading stories to my children and making up stories as well. We watch Tom and Jerry often. I have also gone back to watching the good old PTV.
“The heaviest penalty for deciding to engage in politics is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself” (Plato). This year Pakistanis proved this to be true. Before Prime Minister Gilani was making puffs of his hair and hopping all over the world we had Musharraf with his white sideburns telling us to believe in him and him alone. Conceit has neither limit nor a good choice. The bottom line is this: why does the ordinary person suffer? I have a multiple choice one for this difficult and complicated question: i) He is insignificant, ii) He is stupid and insignificant, iii) He wants to die, and iv) All afore mentioned options.
The PM made the address of the year to the nation to give them a lot of good news. I watched the address, despite my better sense, and I waited till he finished his gargling. I am still waiting for the good news. We have to be patient and wait for the good news.
He did say a few intelligent phrases but twisted them like, “the global War On Terror is our own war.” That could mean a hell of a lot of things for the truck driver eating daal and roti for five hundred and fifty rupees. It could mean, and I will again offer you the multi-choice section: i) daal mein namk ziyaada hai, ii) I have to drive all night. Should I be watching this, iii) Is he a new television actor?, and iv) All afore mentioned options.
Then the PM also hinted to all the people he knew • has studied with and will ever meet again with the following statement: “A country where citizens are not safe cannot attract investment or progress.” This could either mean:
i) Leave with your money as soon as possible,
ii) Wear a bullet proof jacket when you go to the bathroom,
iii) I’m leaving the country again for a three hundred day tour, and
iv) All of the afore mentioned options.
I watch in amazement and in fear. I watch because I want to believe in my country because I do not want to leave it when it is bleeding. I also want to understand what is going on here. Is it them or us that need therapy? Are we so helpless that we cannot demand for our rights, though we pay for them through our taxes?
Who gave them the right to run a circus where there was to be a country? I believe the answers are there in the questions. In fact, there is only one answer worth contemplating; the people of Pakistan must stand up for their rights or else we will only have a lot of gargling on television. Meanwhile what has changed when the PM comes to Lahore, the police uniform? However, I will end with a quote: “Fame is a shuttlecock. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.”
The writer is a freelance columnist
source: The Nation, 22/7/2008