For there is comfort in silence; solace in delicious lies; a certain lightness in numbing effect of serene delusion
By Fahd Husain
Published: November 22, 2014
The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain [email protected]
The delicious wickedness of lying through our well-flossed teeth is trending in Pakistan. But consider it our dirty little secret.
As traditional politics goes into a tailspin, and media cranks up its volume, controlled anarchy seems to have been let loose on this hapless land. News is breaking faster than pious commitments, and analysis pours down on barren minds like acid rain. Talking heads shouting; shouting heads screaming; screaming heads cursing — it’s a circus out there. A cacophony of shrill voices getting louder and louder till your head feels it is ready to explode; decibels rising higher and higher and higher, and then…
The sound goes mute. You see faces contorted in anger, heads shaking in delirium, arms flaying wildly and mouths wide open in a soundless scream — but you hear nothing. The circus moves in very slow, very quiet motion on a giant screen in front of you — life in living colour flickering to shades of black and white like silent movies of yore, then reluctantly catching colour again.
You sense nothing is making sense. Pretense rolls out like a thick black fog, enveloping all sense of reality inside its bosom. Delusion unfurls like a giant banner as men and women begin to believe their own lies. Smiling faces walk around with unsmiling eyes, looking not at you, but through you. Words lack conviction. Promises lack commitment. Actions lack determination.
“Oh villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!/ My tables — meet it is I set it down/ That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” — (“Hamlet”, William Shakespeare)
Who do you believe? What do you believe? Facts shuffle around with amputated legs; information has no knowledge; and people speak with forked tongues. No one sports the courage to say it as it is. Those few who do, do it at their peril.
This, then, is the sorry saga of a land that thirsts for truth. But truth is what it does not get, for our discourse is birthed in a culture of dual rhetoric — one for public consumption and the other for the private. The yawning chasm that separates the two grows wider each day. The sanctimonious drivel that disguises as discussion filters truth like a pollutant and delivers sterile content to famished consumers. They are considered too dumb to know reality and face up to it.
This is a legacy of the paternal state; a holier-than-thou entity that has always held the belief that ‘Daddy knows best’. So decisions made by puny men with grandiose titles are based on reasons never to be shared with the naive and gullible public. Instead, this naive and gullible public is fed a diet of the official truth, disseminated through carefully worded statements that reek of official hypocrisy. This culture has seeped so deep within our fabric, it has almost become second nature to us.
Ah, the delicious wickedness of lying.
True justice in the Model Town massacre? Is that what you expect? Is that what you believe? You really think the government will allow a completely independent Joint Investigation Team to present the true picture of what really happened? Don’t you know how governments work? Don’t you know how those working for the government work? Don’t you realise the limitations of the integrity of the noble officers of the state? Haven’t you figured out they have lots of loyalty and very little spine?
True justice? Hear the lies uttered from official quarters. Hear the words that mean nothing; hear the vows divorced from reality; and hear the hollow sounds of sincerity shorn of any conviction. Now hear these small men, who utter big words in public, spew forth the harsh truth behind closed doors. Behind these doors there is talk of ‘managing’ the inquiry, ‘covering up’ the facts, and ‘manipulating’ the investigation through pliant officers who bow not to their conscience but to the whims and desires of their bosses. Do not say this aloud. Everyone knows this dirty little secret, but …
Romans fed the Christians to their lions; we feed them to our furnaces. As the fire crackles and burns on flesh and bone, pious words gush forward like water from a fire truck. Hear the talk of justice and punishment; hear the proclamation of equality, protection and immediate remedial measures; and hear the growls of heavy vehicles driving into Kot Radha Kishan, bearing pompous officials come to buy silence. It was terrible what happened, they say with hollow remorse. But will they legislate away the disease? Will their cowardice allow them to face the truth? Will they for once stop believing their own lies?
Yes, when you are bred on lies and fed on lies, it tends to become second nature. Governments lie as a policy, politicians lie as a habit, and we all lie as a proud cultural trait. Or do we? When public pronouncements are so different from private actions, what should we call it? When formal proclamations are so different from personal beliefs, what should we call it? When official declarations are so different from the reality on the ground, what should we call it? Well, I know what we should call it, but…
So c’mon everyone, let’s hush up the truth here. Let’s hush up reality; let’s all join hands to hush up our deeply held beliefs and strongly cherished ideals; let’s all hush up our dreams and desires; and let’s all together hush up life.
For there is comfort in silence; there is solace in delicious lies; and there is a certain lightness in the numbing effect of a serene delusion. Let’s all believe what we are told; and swallow what we hear and see. Those words floating in the air, and those sounds serenading the soul; they are all meant to lull you into a stupor that will make you forget all your troubles. Go ahead, live the lie, breathe the lie, sleep the lie. Just don’t tell anyone it’s a lie…
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2014.
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