Los Churreteros

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Sheikh Saadi in a hikayat about a vulture and a kite in Bostan narrates that a vulture told a kite: “No one has a better vision than mine.” The kite said it easily can be tested and asked what it could see in the plains. The vulture looked around and said if you believe me I can see a grain of wheat at a distance of a day’s journey. The kite was truly surprised and they started to descend towards the grain and surprisingly, there it was. As the vulture tried to pick it, a snare snapped around its neck. The vulture’s good sight but lack of vision had become the reason for its entrapment. The kite said what use is the sight that sees a single grain from afar, but does not discern the snare that lies in wait.

The vision of the elite here is like that of the vulture transfixed on the single objective: continuation of their illegal and unjust rule. They think that if not allowed to rule this godforsaken place eternally, all the ‘good work’ they have done in the eight years will go to waste. Little do they realise that due to their obduracy, intransigence and ineptitude, the noose of disaster, devastation and desolation has tightened around the neck of our body politic.

Today our country and society is more fragmented, more fractious and more fractured than it was ever before for the simple reason that they can only see the single grain, but not the whole host of problems accompanying it.

Perhaps a few facts about the vulture’s habits and responses will help us understand the workings of ‘real politics’ here because of their similarity to the habits and responses of our politicians. Vultures do not have a sense of satiation and they gorge themselves to the point where even lift-off for flight is difficult, exactly like the political vultures here who keep gorging themselves until they are overstuffed and rupture at the seams.

Amazingly, because of the nature of their diets and digestive system, the vulture poop is actually a sanitiser. Their stomachs contain digestive acids that kill virtually all bacteria and viruses, and they can consume meat infected with anthrax, etc., destroying the virus in their digestive system. After stepping into a carcass, they will often expel their waste, which is white and fluid, onto their legs. The uric acid kills any bacteria that they may have picked up from the dead animal.

The stomachs of political vultures contain digestive acids that kill virtually all compassion and kindness. They digest enormous public wealth, bribes and kickbacks without as much as a burp, something that real vultures would envy, and their ill-gotten wealth (read ‘poop’) sanitises them politically, culturally and socially in this blighted place while elsewhere their money (read ‘poop’) would be just what it is, poop.

The politicians’ poop reminded me of a joke. Two alligators were relaxing in the swamp near Margalla. The smaller one turned to the bigger one and said, “I can’t understand how you kin be so much bigger ‘n me. We are the same age, and we was the same size as kids. I just don’t get it.” Well,” said the big ‘gator, “What you been eatin’ boy?” “Politicians, same as you,” replied the small ‘gator. “Hmm. Well, where do y’all catch ‘em?” “Down ‘to other side of the swamp near the parkin’ lot by the Secretariat, the Ministries and Parliament.” “Same here. Hmm. How do you catch ‘em?” “Well, I crawls up into one of them Lexus, Land Cruisers or BMWs and wait fer one to open the car door. Then I jump out, grab ‘em on the leg, shake the shit out of ‘em, and eat ‘em!” “Ah!” says the big alligator, “I think I see your problem. You ain’t gettin’ any real nourishment. See, by the time you get done shakin’ the shit out of a politician, there ain’t nothin’ left but an ass-hole and a briefcase!”

It is interesting to note the fact that some carrion eating birds eat dung because the dung of hoofed animals contains pigments that the birds cannot make in their own bodies. For the rare Egyptian vulture, this is an essential part of the daily beauty regime and it has earned the nickname ‘churretero’ and ‘moniguero’ in Spain, meaning ‘dung-eater’. By the way I think that the Balochi and Sindhi names of ‘Geeth Waar’ and ‘Goonh Khoor’ respectively, meaning ‘shit-eaters’ are more apt, as they tell us exactly what the vultures and corrupt politicians really do, i.e. eat shit.

All vultures find food with their incredible eyesight, but some vultures have a keenly developed sense of smell on which they rely for most of their foraging. Turkey vultures use an even combination of smell and sight – whichever reaches them first. Scientists even used turkey vultures to find a leak in a many-mile-long gas pipeline, by pumping mercaptan gas, which smells like carrion, through the lines.

The political vultures too employ their sense of sight and smell to search, locate and snitch the best available kickbacks, commissions, perks, privileges and of course bribes. They can spot kickbacks in Washington while sitting in Islamabad, although they get kicks on their backsides when it comes to politics there. They can smell kickbacks in contracts and tenders anywhere in the country, and that people end up under Sher Shah Bridges is not something that bothers them overly.

When vultures are cornered or threatened, they have the ability to regurgitate the contents of their stomach, in fact they project vomit on the attacker or intruder, a repulsive habit that is very effective in frightening attackers away. It also helps them to lighten their load so that they can fly away faster. Either way it is quite an effective defence.

Tactics based on similar principles are employed by the political vultures here to thwart intruders and encroachers on their ill-gotten wealth. They simply regurgitate a part of their stinking wealth for the benefit of NAB and go scot-free, or they lighten up some of their wealth by bribing the proper people and scoot out to Dubai in aeroplanes or launches. It is something else that mostly their ilk urgently requires their services and recalls them to make them ministers, or in some cases third time prime ministers.

The vultures are not deterred by sound in their carrion eating process and the only sound they emit is a grunt when pushed away by more vicious carrion eaters like hyenas. The politician vultures too do not heed or hear any word, be it of God or Man, and when pushed away they too grunt, groan and create a ruckus. They never give up easily, but eventually bigger predators have their way.

The poor vulture is considered repulsive and abhorrent and socially unacceptable in spite of the fact that it performs the social duty of cleaning up the mess. While in comparison the politician ‘churreteros’ who create a mess by eating away honesty, dignity and honour – the vital entrails of a society and leave it bereft of values – are not only socially welcome, but also hold a high position in it due to their ill-gotten shit, sorry wealth.

The incorrigibly, incontrovertibly and inherently corrupt politicians, generals and bureaucrats who never satiate and strive to stay glued to power ‘at any cost’ and do not ever develop the ability to learn or to reform remind me of a qata by Sheikh Saadi in Gulistan.

Sheikh Saadi says,

“Haich Saikal Nako Na Danad Kard

Aahanay Ra Kay Bad Gauhar Bashad

Choon Bood Asal Johari Qabil

Tarbiat Ra Dar o Asar Bashad

Sag Ba Darya i Haftgana Bashoi

Kay Cho Tar Shud Paleed Tar Bashad

Khar e Essa Garish Ba Mecca Barand

Choon Bi Aayad Hanoz Khar Bashad.”

It means,

“The best of the whetstones will help not

Sharpen the sword of poor quality steel

Training and tempering can only serve

Those with qualities of soul and mind

A dog bathed in seven seas isn’t purified

The wetter it is the uncleaner it turns out to be

If Essa’s donkey is taken for a trip to Mecca

On return is the same donkey it’s always been.”

The people in power here are not incidentally autocrats, but are inherently and essentially autocrats. People who are autocratic towards their relatives, subordinates, party members, attendants and friends in everyday life cannot be expected to be benevolent towards the masses with whom they have no contact and no stake except at the time of elections. Moreover, they become increasingly worse with longer and repeated terms in power and increase of wealth. The point is very aptly explained by:

“Sag Ba Darya i Haftgana Bashoi

Kay Cho Tar Shud Paleed Tar Bashad.”

If – beginning this sentence with an ‘if’ reminded me of the latest epistle from the Presidency to the Supreme Court stating that ‘IF’ re-elected, he would relinquish his Army post, which is a brazen threat to everyone to conform or face the consequences – the readers felt queasy because of reading the graphically gross and repulsive vulture actions and of revoltingly mucky things, I apologise to them. Anyway, if we honestly compare the actions of brazenly corrupt, blatantly hypocritical, barefacedly prevaricating and brashly spineless politicians and rulers who have been the fate of this blighted place with those of the vultures, we will feel more nauseated by the disgusting actions of these soul-selling politicians.

This article was first published on 05 September, 2009

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s