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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Sweetheart of many hearts…

“Thief, thief, thief…..” a gradually increasing yell in a mix of male and female voices, woke him up and as he opened his eyes and was trying to figure-out if it was a dream or reality, the intruder alarm composed of heavily accented Afghan voices was suppressed for a split second by a crash sound, as if something had fallen down from the second or third floor height.
He jumped out of bed and opened his bedroom door, which opened in the courtyard of their traditionally designed Pakistani house. The house consisted of an "L" shaped row of rooms and facilities, with the open yard covering the gap inside the “L” to make a filled rectangle. His room was at the farthest point of the longer hand of the “L”.
As he opened the door, he saw a man, all covered up with a black or very dark grey shawl and dressed in a dark dress, get up, dust his clothes and make his dash towards the bamboo ladder resting on the wall to the left of his door. That ladder led to the roof of the kitchen and from there on to territories beyond.
It was winter and the night air was cold, but the full moon had made it easy to see what was going on around. He just stood there in the doorway, undecided what to do. He was young, just past his twelfth birthday and the sight of an intruder in the courtyard in the middle of a cold night had numbed his knees. He was the first person in the house, who had looked into the courtyard and he was not even sure if the others had heard the same funny sounding siren, which in fact made the word “thief”* sound like “shattered”*** (linguistic peculiarity). And more so at the first sight he had thought that the man in black would run towards him, attack him, but certainly unexpectedly the man in black headed in the opposite direction towards the ladder.
By the time the intruder had hardly made it to the top of the ladder, the door to the adjacent room also opened and his uncle, who was ex-military, came running out in the courtyard and taking a look around asked, on the run: “Where is he?” The boy pointed towards the ladder and the trained military officer, although ex, turned his head in the pointed direction and seeing a shadow of a man disappearing over the roof towards the neighbour’s house, took the ladder to follow the shadow.
The boy, after the disappearance of fear-caused numbness in his legs, also ran behind his uncle and took the same course in the pursuit of a criminal, barefoot as he had jumped out of his bed. By that moment there was someone already knocking at their front gate and the voice calling for them to open the door and announcing the thief, belonged to Jaani, the neighbour’s youngest son, 21-22 years of age and a cadet at the military officers’ college.
The street suddenly became alive and there were lots of different mingled sounds, creating a chaotic noise beyond the gate of their house. By the time that the boy got to the roof, he could see Tayyab and Tahir on the roof as well. They were the neighbours, towards whose house the intruder had run, climbing up the ladder. When the boy got to the highest level roof, he could see his uncle and Tahir talking to each other and he heard his uncle say: “He came up towards your roof. Have you checked your yard?” 
Tahir answered: “No one got down to our yard. Maybe he has crossed over the wall to Gillani’s house”. Gillani was a single mother, living with her daughter, Chanda, in the corner house on that street. The search party, which was already joined by Jaani, made a quick silent collective decision and the whole group, except for the boy, jumped over the wall, onto Gillani’s roof. The boy approached the wall and looking over it, saw the search party standing on the flat roof of Gillani’s house, looking around and unable to see the man in black. Tayyab went to the edge of the roof and looking into Gillani’s house asked in a loud voice: “Aunt Gillani has anyone come down into your courtyard?” Gillani’s strong authoritative voice answered: “No. I have been up since the first scream, but no one came down here. By God if anyone dares come down into my yard at night, he would regret it for the rest of his life”. 
Tayyab turned around, but he didn’t have to tell anybody about the response, because Gillani’s voice was loud enough to let the people in the neighbouring city know about her solid stance. Jaani hurried towards the other edge of the roof, towards the street, and issued orders: “He’s not up here and he did not go down into the house. Check the hedges around the house and the back streets. He might have made his way out already”.
A lot of movement started in the street with people running in all directions and everybody saying something to each other, making it hard to follow, who was saying what, and to whom. It was a real chaos, airing a sense of despair that the entire crowd had lost the intruder and there was nothing to catch.
Above this whole chaotic rumble, rose the voice of Atta, who was standing on the third floor of his house: “He did not go down. He is in the hen coop”. 
This was an important piece of information. The flat roof had quite a sizeable hen coop, which was the only structure sufficient enough to offer refuge to the unwelcome stranger. The search party almost simultaneously turned its attention to the pointed spot and the boy, still standing on the other side of the wall, saw how all of them, except for his uncle, rushed towards the hen coop. The search party had grown in numbers by that time, thanks to those, who had climbed up to Gillani’s roof from the stairs that led up straight from the street, needless to say that a few of the members of the hunting group had a lot of practice going up those stairs, at odd times, to render their invaluable company to Chanda, who was a budding beauty in need of male company to learn the basics of life. Being the beautiful daughter of a single mother, in a hysterically conservative society, was an edge that Chanda enjoyed. As Chanda started blossoming into a sweet flower, all the bees in the neighbourhood, and sometimes even not the neighbourhood, found a source of nectar in her and for poor Gillani this added an extra duty of staying up at night to keep the buzzing creatures away from the virgin, at least how she thought, flower.
Back on the roof, as the young, inexperienced members rushed to drag the evil intruder out of the hen coop, the boy’s uncle issued an abrupt halt command. The young troopers including Badar, who had frequented that roof more than anyone else, had already gone down on his knees to shove his hand inside and drag the thief out, to be able to tell Chanda the next day that he was the hero of the moment, stopped and turned to the uncle.
Uncle ex-military contemplated: “What if he is armed? He might have a fire arm or even a cold weapon like a knife. He could hurt anyone, who would wander into the darkness of this hen coop. right?”
The thought was provoking. Everyone including Badar, the would-be Chanda’s hero, nodded in agreement and the search party gathered close to the low entrance of the hen coop and started quickly charting an action plan. The two military brains, the uncle and Jaani, took things into their hands, to chart a plan of action for the inexperienced and untrained civilian boys. 
The boy stood on the other side of the wall, because he had already been instructed by the same military brains to stay away from the dangerous situation, and listened to the discussion of possible ways out, while Atta still stood there providing a hawk eye view of the neighbourhood in case of any sudden changes in situation. Atta stood there and offered a running commentary of the proceedings on Gillani’s roof: “They are trying to get him out. They are careful.”
Someone from out in the street asked: “Are they sure he is in that hen coop?”
Atta confidently said: “That was where I saw him going, and he didn’t come out since.”
The same voice rechecked: “Are you sure you saw him going in?”
Atta confirmed: “Yes I saw him jumping over the wall and heading straight into the hen coop. He moved around as if he knew the location. I think this is not the first time that he got on that roof”.
This comment instigated a discussion in the street. A hum of everybody talking took the boy’s attention for a moment, but unable to understand anything except for the word “Chanda” for a few times, he turned his attention to the major happening on the roof and heard Tahir saying: “Let’s check if he even is in there. Maybe Atta was wrong. After all it’s night time and a little darkness can play a lot of tricks!”
The other members of the operational team agreed and the focus of discussion turned to the means of checking. As earlier, any hints on even coming in level to the hen coop door, were turned down as dangerous, and then, the military genius of Jaani found a viable solution. He said: “Let’s get some stick and hover it inside the hen coop to confirm that there is someone in there”.
That seemed like a good option. Someone quickly found a meter long stick, and Jaani, issuing the following instructions, took the stick to perform reconnaissance: “Everybody get away, but form a semi-circle to apprehend him in case he tries to make a run”.
The civilian apprentices and the ex-military uncle followed the command and the witch hunt commenced. Jaani took a safe position on the right side of the hen coop door and after taking a final look at the preparations, shoved his stick into the hen coop. He moved the stick from side to side, and after gathering data, withdrew the confirmation rod. Standing up he declared: “He sure is in there. I felt some obstacle in the far corner. And I guess you are right uncle. He has taken a defensive position. He is waiting for us to commit a mistake.”
The ex-military uncle agreed, with an air of confidence-boost, realizing that the whole search party looked at him with respect. He had proven to be a wise man and he had proven the righteousness of his military officer’s training. 
Now that the witch hunting forward group was sure of the intruder’s presence, the discussion took a serious turn. Now the question was to tailor a plan to extract the supposedly armed and dangerous, waiting-for-the-opposition-to-commit-a-mistake, perpetrator. 
Atta from the top of his roof enquired: “Is he there?”
Tayyab responded: “Yes he is there and we will get him. He won’t run away now”.
The message was readily transmitted by Atta for the crowd in the street, which, guessing from the increase in the level of noise, had grown manifold. Some cautious crowd member asked Atta to tell the search party: “Ask them to be careful. They should avoid doing anything, which could cause harm to anyone of them”.
Atta, feeling being the center of attention and a major part of the capture operation, said: “What do you think they are doing? They are not kids. I am watching everything. This bugger won’t get away”.
This probably sent a feeling of reassurance for the crowd, because the general discussion, about God-knows-what, started again. The boy thought that probably the people down in the street were planning on how to handle the situation once the thief was caught. He associated himself more with the capture party than with the crowd, because he was right in the middle of the happenings. He was the first person, who saw that man in black, and he was the one, who pointed uncle ex-military in the right direction. He had his credits to win, once he would go down into the street. He was the only one from among his peers, who had such an up-close and personal experience of seeing, following, and then kind of participating in the capture of a heinous criminal. Had it not been for him, the thief might have had escaped and would not had been forced to take refuge in the hen coop, in the wake of the following, highly trained, capture party.
The military plus civilian apprehension council, led by the two military brains, continued discussing ways of safe, for them, extraction of that man in black, ducked inside a hen coop. One of the civilians, Tahir, suggested: “Why don’t we just put something in front of the hen coop door, block his exit and call the police? In the meanwhile we can all remain here to guard”.
This was the first time that anybody had even mentioned police. Badar did not like the idea, because he in general didn’t like the idea of seeing police. He have had his opportunities of encountering police at several occasions, and for a budding hooligan police was more of a foe than a friend. He didn’t say anything, but the expression on his face told the story of his disagreement. 
This idea also hurt the feelings of the soldiers in that party, because they could not allow some civil law-enforcement officers take the initiative. Jaani said: “We will call the police, but after capturing this bastard. What can the police do that we cannot?”
This last part of his speech tickled the ex-military uncle’s armed forces ego as well, and he seconded Jaani. He said: “This guy broke into our houses, not a police station. I think Jaani is right. We should capture him, initially interrogate him and then hand him over to the police. You all know how police works, don’t you? If we won’t extract the real story from this guy beforehand, tomorrow morning he might even not be at the police station. Police is corrupt and we have to take this fact into consideration. Secondly, who knows what this guy’s intentions were? We have to make sure that he has no compromising information, before we hand him over to the police”.
Jaani, receiving acclaim for his rightness, seconded uncle ex-military, and Badar’s face started revealing signs of relief, knowing that police was not coming around for a while, and that he might still have a story-of-capture, to tell Chanda, the next day or night or the night after.
The boy, standing on the other side of the wall, could not understand the proceedings. It was turning into a kind of a drag for him. He was not very familiar with this thing called “cautious approach”. For him it was too complicated and he wanted to tell the capture group to just drag that guy out or to call the police, provided they were afraid, but he could not say anything, because all of the members of the capture group were his elders, and in their society kids did not have a say.
He also realized that he was not a real part of the team and God forbid if he made any such comments, he could be ordered to leave, and that would deprive him of his story of heroic participation in the capture of a felon. And boy oh boy, he needed that story, to boost his own ranking among his peers, who were all either confined to the limits of their main doors or were at the most standing among or by the crowd downstairs, only knowing the facts, as relayed by Atta from his commentary booth.
Then some ingenious idea struck uncle ex-military and he signalled everyone to gather around, while for the first time the boy was brought into action, when uncle ex-military said: “You’re on watch now. We have something to discuss. Don’t look around keep your eyes only on the hen coop”.
“Yes sir”, was the enthusiastic answer, after the boy realized the correctness of his earlier decision to not interfere, which had now brought him right into action. He was now a part of the capture team officially. Now he had an authenticated part in action, which could be confirmed by the multiple members of the extraction council.
When everybody gathered around, uncle ex-military started, in a lowered voice: “The only way for us to get him out and to seize him is to remove the hen coop roof.” This made everyone, except for Jaani, who was trained to participate in such operational planning, look at each other in surprise, showing that they could not understand the logic of it.
Uncle ex-military, being trained to be observant, continued: “This will give us an upper hand. He will be deprived of the element of surprise. We will see what he has, and our options will be multiplied by our numbers. You see once the hen coop top is removed, he will be surprised rather than us and if he is armed, we can tackle him”.
This did bring Jaani to a total agreement, but the civilians, who had little experience in tackling things like the “element of surprise” and “weighing odds”, also had nothing against it. Uncle ex-military seeing general agreement in the eyes of the team members, continued with details of action plan: “Tayyab and Badar will breach the top with any available tool, while Jaani and I will take guard at the opposite sides of the hen coop. As soon as the top will be breached everybody else moves away to a safer distance, while we two will attack him from opposite directions”, and explaining the action plan, he used the same reconnaissance stick to draw the plan on the concrete roof. Although the stick left no marks on the concrete, but it seemed that everybody could see it, because they all looked down on the floor and nodded in agreement.
Tayyab took his eyes off the floor and asked: “But what tools are you talking about?”
Uncle ex-military also raised his eyes with an expression of harshness, but readily realizing that the enquirer was a mere non-military commoner, lowered the level of harshness in his glance to the minimum, and said: “We will get some”.
Skipping that distraction, he got back to strategic planning, saying: “Once we attack him from two sides, he will not have chance to use his weapon.” After this he looked up at the team members to get their approval. Seeing no signs of disagreement, he continued: “Jaani you will take the stick and as soon as the hen coop roof goes off go for hitting his hands, while I will jump in to grab him. You got it?”
And Jaani nodded in agreement. Then uncle ex-military continued: “As soon as I grab him by the neck, from behind, you take his hands and unarm him”.
This concluded the briefing and to the boy, fully participating in the action, it seemed like a very professional apprehension plan. He did think about what would happen, when Jaani would swing his stick, while uncle ex-military would be jumping into the hen coop to grab the perpetrator by the neck? He thought of the chances of Jaani hitting uncle, but then he suppressed his thoughts and just concentrated on his job of watching. Because how could he know better than the two trained soldiers: one of whom, uncle ex-military, was battle hardened and the other one was undergoing rigorous military training, at the college? Since they both agreed, this could only be the best plan.
In the meanwhile, Atta continued his running commentary and told the crowd in the street, which had grown to large proportions by now, that the quick response team was planning.
Back on the roof of Chanda’s house, Badar and the other civilian boys were all agreement to the trained strategic planning. Concluding the briefing, uncle ex-military said to Tayyab: “Do you have anything like a shovel or any other digging tools at home?”
Tayyab nodded positively and uncle said: “OK then you go down and bring any thing that you find. Better more than one to speed up the process, while we keep watch and take our positions”.
This concluded the field meeting, and Tayyab jumped over the wall to the side, where the boy had been standing, and ran down the ladder to get the required tools. On his way passing the boy he asked: “You OK?”
The boy nodded and watched Tayyab making his way down the ladder to bring the tools required, to put an end to that operation hen-coop-storm.
Soon Tayyab returned with two items. He handed the shovels over the wall to Tahir and jumped over. The boy was again left on the opposite side, all alone covering the whole expanse of roofs of two houses, in case of the criminal making his way out of the opened hen coop. He had a lot of ground to cover and strangely, while planning the operation hen-coop-storm, no one even thought of the remote possibility of the thief breaking loose and heading over the wall, on a retraction course. But then again the trained planners and executers had high level of confidence in the action plan, and escape was not an option to be explored.
As soon as Jaani and uncle ex-military took their positions on the opposite sides of the hen coop, and after Jaani gave the civilian boys a crash course in handling a dangerous tool like a shovel in extreme battle conditions, operation hen-coop-storm started, with Tayyab and Badar removing the hen coop roof standing in the front of the hen coop, while Jaani stood ready with his stick to administer the disarming blow to the thief’s hands, and uncle ex-military standing on the opposite side ready to jump in and Tahir standing a couple of feet away from the hen coop to counter any attempts of escape towards the edge of the roof into the street, while the boy stood alone on the other side, ready as he could be to not let the thief run away across the border zone.
In the meanwhile Atta informed the crowd, which gained knowledge of the operation only through his running commentary that the operation had started and for the first time in more than an hour the squabbling and chatting and enquiries died out and the street froze in expectations. 
The hen coop was badly structured, because despite all her masculine characteristics, Gillani still was a woman and a house wife, so her constructional abilities greatly lingered. It took first time diggers, like Tayyab and Badar, a little more than a few seconds to shove their spades under the first layer of masonry and to topple the roof away. As soon as the roof flew off the rest of the plan got into action: a blow to whatever revealed part of the crumbled-in-the-corner mister dangerous, a jaguar leap by uncle ex-military and a muffled cry of pain by the thief. His cry, triggered by the wild swing of that thick reconnaissance stick, might had been a little louder had uncle ex-military not grabbed him around the neck choking him.
The next few seconds were of extreme action. Everybody in the QRT executed their part of the plan and in a jiffy uncle ex-military stood the bastard up with one hand over his neck, choking him and the other one grabbing one of his hands. Jaani as planned took the other hand and Tahir ran in to quickly execute a body search, while Tayyab and Badar stood nearby with their shovels ready to tackle any unforeseen events.
While Tahir was making his way towards the apprehended perpetrator, and when Jaani had taken his free hand into his firm grip, uncle ex-military administered a professional blow, with his lower limb, to the back of the felon’s leg, which brought him down on his knees in a strange kind of a half eagle spread. This made Tahir’s job a lot easier and he frisked through and declared proudly: “He has nothing on him”.
In the meanwhile Atta announced the capture from the rooftop of his house and the silent-in-expectation crowd broke the silence and the hum started again. Somebody from the street issued orders to bring down the culprit right away. The crowd was anxious to see the object of all that turmoil. They wanted to dispense justice. They wanted to make that asshole pay for his intrusion, disturbing their calm night’s sleep.
On the roof of Chanda’s house, Badar and Tayyab had already lowered their ready-to-strike shovels and dropping his shovel, Badar came up to the captured criminal and giving him a hard blow, out of all of his frustration, in the belly, yelled: “You gonna steal motherfucker? You thought you could get away with this?”
And the aggressive expression ended with another blow this time to the face of the poor would-be thief. Then having fulfilled his part of the operation and sensing no danger posed by the captive, uncle ex-military handed him over completely to Jaani and commanded him to take the captive down to the lazily hanging around public. Jaani twisted the culprit’s hand behind his back and shoved him towards the staircase, which was all too well known to Badar, and a few others in the neighbourhood, as the steps to heaven.
When the elders’ quick response team headed down, the boy, who was still on the other side of the wall, felt a sense of accomplishment and decided to also descend to the street to share his exploits of the proceedings. When he turned around, for the first time he realized that his feet were cold. He had been standing there, all that time, barefoot, but the excitement of the happenings didn’t even let him feel that. So to amend the situation, he decided to run down the ladder to his own courtyard and put on his slippers, before going out to join the bystanders.
He ran down, put on his slippers and off he went through the main gate to the street full of men and women, and boys and gals. Well in fact the men were out in the street. The women were either in their balconies or in the doorways of their houses and the minors, except for a group of four; Waqar, Asif, Mitthu and Pappu; were all confined behind the doors. The boy went out to see for the first time that the street was filled with people, who lived in that lane, as well as with people from the surrounding lanes.
It seemed as if no one was sleeping anymore. The captive was positioned by the wall which separated Tayyab’s house from Gillani’s house. The process of interrogation had already started. The QRT had made way for the others to proceed, while standing nearby, in case of any sudden change of circumstances.
The captive was telling some cock-o-mania story about not being a thief at all. He told that he was on his way back from the movies, walking through the back street, when somebody yelled and he, out of fear, took refuge in the hen coop. That was total bullshit. The boy knew all what had happened upstairs, but he didn’t know what had preceded it, but in the street, while the QRT was at work, those details had been shared from person to person. 
What happened was that this guy was sitting on a wall, which separated the boy’s house from Jaani’s house. Jaani and family lived in a four floor house, so the partition wall was four floors high for 75% of the length, and near the last quarter, it was just two floors high. Now what happened was that Jaani got up in the night to use his WC. The window in the WC opened right on top of that lowered part of the wall. Jaani, being a military soul, noticed a silhouette sitting on the wall and quietly opened his WC window to grab the intruder, by the collar. This was when the man in black jumped to the adjacent courtyard and made his run to the ladder. The yelling Afghans were the tenants in Jaani’s house, who occupied the second floor. The Afghans had noticed that intruder earlier, but were contemplating what to do, when Jaani’s sudden move shattered all the planning and they raised that crazy yelling siren, which woke the boy up in the beginning.
Now knowing that, there was no way that the guy was just coming back from the movies at around 3-o-clock in the morning, needless to say that there were no cinemas, which worked so late. So the center of attention was the captive and Jaani’s house. Up in the third floor balcony of Jaani’s house, stood his elder sister Afifa, who was a sweetheart of many hearts. She was not so beautiful unless we would forget politically correct expression and say that she was the opposite of beautiful. But her beauty was that she was available and availability of a girl in stuck-up societies is in itself a sign of beauty. Afifa held the same seat, which Chanda endeavoured to take and to make things clearer, Chanda’s physical credentials were a lot better than those of Afifa.
There used to be a night watchman, hired by the community to circumvent any probable crimes or mishaps. This watchman used to ride around on his bicycle, armed with a thick wooden baton or rather a long thick heavy stick. The second item of that watchman’s arsenal was a flashlight. 

Now in the course of the interrogation the watchman said: “He is lying. I saw him at the corner of the street and said hello, but he did not answer. I already knew that there was something wrong. He abruptly turned into the dark back street and I hurried around the front street to intercept him on the other side. But when I got to the other side he was gone. I went into the back street and tried to find him, but he was gone. After that I did not leave the neighbourhood and after sometime this yelling started and everybody got up. I was guarding the exit from the street all the time”.
Finishing his story the guard came up to the captive and grabbing him by the collar, said: “You motherfucker, you remember me. You low life scum, you want to lie to me?” and the last words probably did not succeed in entering the thief’s ears, because the watchman administered a full-blow slap over his ears. The captive might had seen the stars right in front of his eyes in that cold clear night, because such slaps do leave a mark.
While the boy and the other four of his mates were standing nearby, indulged in the proceedings, Mr Irshad, Mitthu’s father, who had probably out-slept the whole neighbourhood, came down the street from his house, in his slippers and holding a flashlight, which was unnecessary in that moonlit night, and headed towards the wall of honours.
Reaching the test rat, he turned his flashlight on, holding it in his left hand and flashing the light in the eyes of the captive. After inspecting for a while, before slapping the captive with his right hand, he commented: “This bugger has the eyes of a thief”.
By then Atta had also left his post and had come down in the street. His mother, who was standing in the second floor balcony, and who was a kind hearted woman, asked her younger son to go and call the police after she could not bear seeing the poor captive being experimented upon. She could do that, because they were one of the three households in the neighbourhood, who had a phone.
Meanwhile, down in the street, after his father had shown the height of his face reading or rather say eye reading abilities, Mitthu also extended a theory of his own. He said: “You know he is no thief. He is Afifa’s hubby for the night. Look at her how sad she looks, witnessing all that beating”.
Asif said: “Shut up will you! Don’t try to make stories”.
Mitthu said: “You stupid Pathan you don’t know the half of it. What was he sitting there and waiting for? He was not planning to steal. He might had done that and disappeared, but in fact he was waiting to make his way to her room. That’s when Jaani got up. Unfortunate bastard! He came for pleasure, but got caught in such a mess”.
The others in that group seemed to enjoy that version, because they nodded in agreement and Mitthu continued: “He is a man of strong resolve. I saw how he looked up towards Afifa for a few times, but enduring all that beating, he still hasn’t dishonoured her. He’s a real man and look at her standing there and not even trying to do something. I’m telling you all these girls are alike. They like to have pleasure, but when you get caught they just act so innocent!”
And all the five heads in that group looked up at Afifa with disgust. What a mean babe!
Meanwhile, uncle ex-military understanding the helplessness of the civilians, decided to take matters into his own hands. He ordered Jaani to bring the perpetrator into the middle. Once in the middle of the road, they tore off his shirt, needless to say, which after the removal of the black shawl was the only thing between his bare skin and the extremely cold wind. After the removal of that shirt the captive was ordered to lay-down on the asphalt road. The asphalt must had been very cold in that January night, and for most of those present, probably the punishment boiled down to lying topless on freezing asphalt. But then, the on-scene civilians had no idea of the military-genius of uncle ex-military’s designs.
After the poor bastard had taken his position, his shoes were removed. The group of boys discussed that the captive would not hold for long lying on cold asphalt barefoot, but they also did not have any idea of what was about to happen.
Seeing that the rat was on the road and his hands were jammed under Jaani and Badar’s feet, uncle ex-military took that thick stick from the watchman, and assuming the correct position, asked Afifa’s one night stand: “Are you going to tell the truth or should I proceed?”
The poor bastard might had cursed himself for not enrolling in military, because he didn’t know what was to follow, pleading: “By God I am telling the truth. Believe me sir I am not a thief”
But that was not the truth or not the truth that uncle ex-military and the crowd needed. So taking the pose of a baseball hitter, uncle ex-military scored his first home run on the soles of that hard-to-crack nut. What followed was a scream of a single man, which might had moved the noise meter, beyond the level, to which the whole crowd in a stadium raises it, cheering for a home run.
Now probably the whole city knew that there was something going on.
That scream moved Mr Rabbani, who was a faint hearted civilian engineer, because he broke silence: “Stop this. This is inhuman”
Jaani understanding the faintness of the civilian heart, turned his attention to Mr Rabbani and said: “Uncle Rabbani, you don’t know such types. They deserve such treatment. We have to make him talk. You just hold on, he will soon start singing”.
Before anybody could say anything, Mitthu whispered: “Jaani doesn’t know that if this poor guy would tell the truth, he himself will be disgraced” and the expression on his sure-face told that the punishment should be stopped to avert intolerable disgrace for Jaani.
Mr Rabbani shook his head in disagreement with Jaani and loudly enquired: “Has someone called the police?”
Atta’s mother responded with traces of pain in her voice: “Yes Mr Rabbani my son has called them. I don’t know, why they are not here yet”
Uncle ex-military and Jaani looked each other in the eyes and understanding the shortage of time on hand, discarded all hue and cry and concentrated on the achievement of their goal. Uncle ex-military scored homerun after homerun and each homerun was followed by a heart-tearing scream and the same question: “What were you doing here?”
Mr Rabbani was the only person whose protests against inhuman treatment did not succumb to the ferocity of hitting and loudness of resulting screams. He was intelligent enough not to physically indulge and stop the action, because even his sons, Tayyab, Tahir and Tariq were unsupportive of his faintheartedness.
Then, right after the hitting of the subsequent homerun, and the already habitual scream of pain, the police truck turned onto the street, where the action was taking place, and before the truck, full of law enforcers, could reach the spot, where they could stop, the bloody bastard enjoyed the pleasure of another homerun.
The truck stopped and the police officers approached the scene. It was probably the only time in human history, when an alleged criminal took a sigh of relief seeing a police vehicle. The policemen didn’t have to handcuff him or to guide him anywhere. As soon as he saw the approaching policemen he got up and ran, not away, but all the way into the back of the police truck, looking at Afifa for the last time.

***Urdu for thief is “CHOR” for shattered is “CHOOR”

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