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Truth, stranger than fiction

By Nasira Jabeen

What invites us to gather all the necessary ingredients of our composition as beings to give it each of the respective vents, is the truth of life; both of ourselves and other beings and the truth of the circumstances around us.

Be it bitter or pleasant, as being the irrevocable truth, we cannot help our reaction of it, whether it is to pay the former one its due or the latter one. We are there to feel its fervor and manifest it in personal hues. And when it resembles the dramatic or the grotesque and weird or the violent assumed truth that the unfettered and wandering imagination renders true in fiction, we are there still- if we survive it- to witness its cruel actuality; with shock enough to stun us for some moments, then to feel ourselves on the track of normalcy as the case in question lingers on to grow stale. The truth of the pinching and piercing facts that the people of Pakistan have swallowed in its chequered history since its inception is indeed more appalling and heart-rending, more strange and uncanny than the stories of crimes, ingenuity, planning, detection and brutality we read in fiction. The actual callousness in every form: acid throwing, exploitation of manpower, the indiscriminate devastation of the nuclear wars and scores of others to the recent Taliban atrocities, surpass the fictional crimes in awe and horror. Crimes in truth committed with the concerted effort in their execution , take you aback for sure but unlike most fictional poetic justice at the end to our satisfaction, here the reward to the right and punishment of the evil doers is like the far-off bright winged prize to get hold on to be content. Here it is an unending saga much to our vexation and perturbation. The manner of the investigation and detection to bring the felons into book takes a heroic turn no doubt when the crime is afresh; even foreign investigation experts are also deputed for the purpose, but with the incessant commission of novel crimes in the enigmatic land of the pure, the one started investigation wanes in the course and is left almost to oblivion as the more demanding pursuit for the more bold crimes takes its place. To relate but few more familiar ones: Benazir Bhutto’s assassination is still a mystery, swinging between a gun or bomb suicide attack. That is whether it was a target killing or suicide attack is yet to be decided even after the lapse of seven years let alone the nemesis of the perpetrators to do justice with the soul of the human whose life was so suddenly and so cruelly taken from her. Her father’s execution remained a controversial conspiracy to murder or a judicial murder. Her brothers’ mysterious murder, yet unknown. And still awaiting the tardy justice is the violent defamation of the little daughters of the country. Things ‘ghastly’ happen in our part of the world; and it is no nightmare of ours, neither a violent Indian movie is on the play, nor leaves of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights are being turned, but the factual history of the actual supreme of creatures on earth we bear to see. How the inhumane actions portrayed in fictional works depict the real human life! No wonder their creators’ observation and imagination behind it is drawn from and fed on the same human society. And no wonder they mirror the human history more intensely and more exactly when they themselves become victims of the sad circumstances and when their inner urge is more than they can avoid to reflect it in fiction. To come back from the slight distraction, the actual horrendous incidents – happening in front of the very eyes, in the very real bright day, causing the quiet echoes and mundane proceedings drowned and hushed by rumbling vehicles and shrieking voices – leave the eye witnesses gasping and awe-stricken and as helpless as an uprooted tree as to the easing of the pain of the person suffered or to the beforehand prevention of the shot. Punjab’s former Governor Salman Taseer’s shooting down by his own security guard on Jan 4, 2011, in a busy market in Islamabad gathered effects of the same degree. And this one was no less barbaric and audacious an act than the one seen in bloody action movies, rather they are next to nothing compared to the splitting of the real blood. What might be the cause but so bold an attempt at someone’s life as to force them pay the debt of nature who knows may be too early! Even the thought of it send the wildest shiver throughout the form. Osama Bin Laden’s killing in a US helicopter raid on his compound in Abbottabad on 2nd May 2011 at midnight is akin to yet another part of fictional plot. The risks involved; the never flinching US perseverance in the cause, the meticulous planning and its successful operation, the concerns and dilemma of our leadership, all were too formidable to be found in a more monstrous way in any work of fiction of the world. To cut the details short to arrive at the latest outrage of the 19th April, it too most probably has recalled to most minds scenes from vulgar serials and plays: the one of targeting and firing and chasing and shooting. The senior journalist Hamid Mir’s condition seen from inside his car after receiving the bullets was pathetic. It was as if the viewers with lumps in their throats for the poor soul and bewildered by the omens of a new maelstrom and chaos in the play would wait anxiously for something of a miracle to soon happen to let them have their catharsis. But this being the real one they have to pass on rather even exhausting train of episodes before realizing the long-awaited one. (Though the protagonist’s recuperation would not take that much time as by now he has completely recovered his senses to the release of their one emotion but those of vengeance and justice are prone to delay) In this particular case we all felt the keen point of shock, pity, fear and trepidation more closely and saw the reality more horrid than fiction once again. Setting aside the controversial question of the actual culprits behind this attack, which is yet on time to uncover, if the attack was not instigated by any personal antipathy, it can be aptly construed as a cruel attempt at suffocating the freedom of speech ( as is the collective thought too). The voice of the truth and an impartial analyst of all the domestic issues who helped loose and free the tangled threads of the country’s yarn in shambles to straighten them anew for the top weavers of the fabric of the country and catering for all other concerned, was not spared. What is this signifying? Whatever may be the reasons in whichever case, whatever may be the consequences, the very scene of the bloodshed reveal the extreme of hatred, impress on the minds the final slip from the brink of humane and civilized consideration, embolden the mercilessness, wrath and violence of beings which paint the reality more gruesome than when these go into the flesh of our fiction. That fictional works feed our sensations and our consciousness of the growth of the spheres of human emotion and ambition to an extent wide enough to render them emerge as exploiters and end in being brutal convicts. That the works of art aim at smoothing the ruffled hair of the society and usher in new resolve of reform in individuals against the undesired actions by laying open the disregard, cruelty and barbarism of the actual men of their own stature. These we all acknowledge and this too that these works of imagination embody and develop and cherish nice human habits too. But perusing or watching them in leisure mood, or being immersed in portraits in art gallery until spotting oneself on the wall there and seeing those happening in substance are altogether two different experiences.]]>

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