Friday, March 28, 2014

Part One: The Mausoleum

It is the darkest hour of the night. In the city of Karachi, a young security guard stands in the shadows of a white marble mausoleum, surreptitiously smoking a cigarette. He cannot believe his good luck.

Generally, his duty at night would be to patrol the perimeter of the compound. But the old man who normally guards the mausoleum offered him four cigarettes to swap places for a couple of nights. When he asked why, the old man whispered that he kept hearing strange noises from inside the mausoleum, when of course there was no one inside. 

The young security guard had heard from the other guards that the old man was a bit of a fool. He drank all his life, and now he's gone mad in his old age, they said. But when the old man produced the four cigarettes, he readily agreed to the swap. 

So here he was, relishing the first of his cigarettes. It was a good brand too - the kind you would only get as a bribe, but could never buy for yourself. He had to be careful though not to be seen, because it was forbidden to smoke near the mausoleum. This was a bit unfair, he thought. It is true that one should respect the dead, but the resident of the mausoleum had himself been very fond of smoking. He had in fact been his country's greatest and most famous smoker. The guard grinned and raised his cigarette-hand in salute towards the mausoleum - this cigarette is in your honour, Jinnah sahib!

To be continued.