‘I Am a Resident’
By Shoaib Hashmi

A few weeks back, I was talking to you about how we have been putting pictures of Mickey Mouse on our national flag, and thinking back on it I am reminded of an ancient tale which is worth recounting.
This man was going his way, and just by chance he happened to notice that his watch had stopped. Even more by chance he happened to be passing what was obviously a watch shop, because there were watches and time-pieces, and chronometers and clocks in the huge shop window, and he went in and there were more in the showcases and all over the walls.
The man took off his watch and asked them if they would mend it for him; and they looked shifty and hummed and hawed and said they were sorry but they didn’t repair watches. The man was a bit surprised, but he did like to be on time so he asked them if they would sell him a new watch. And they looked shiftier and hummed a lot more and said they were sorry but they didn’t sell watches either.
Now he was nonplussed and asked them what it was that they did do? And they looked really shifty and hummed and finally muttered that they were the local petty surgeons and performed circumcisions. If that was what they did, the man said, why did they have all those watches hanging on the walls? And the man looked him in the eye and said, “What you want us to hang up here!” Or, “Hore kee tangiyay”! In the proper phrase.
Someone should suggest to the Defense Housing Authority people that they hang up a few watches in their office and sit back and relax! The DHA is the latest in the long line of attempts by our people to create an exclusive little ghetto for themselves and their ilk. It started out as a tool to put all those cantonments lands to good use, and branched off into adjacent areas; and most of the residents are civilians, but the mindset is still of a newly commissioned subaltern with a chip on the shoulder.
Some time ago they banned the entry of rickshaws into their society; then as they were in the banning vein, they also banned the entry of polythene shopper bags! Now a rickshaw is big and makes a noise, and a bag doesn’t. I wonder how many shopper bags they have apprehended sneaking their way in in someone’s back pocket.
Now they are on another kick. They have decreed that all residents of the society will have identification stickers on their cars, and all cars from the rest of the town and without stickers caught entering the society -- especially late at night -- will be stopped. As a resident of another Society, my comment on that is, “Well flick you too”! It’s a sign of an infantile siege mentality, and we can always tell our DHA friends to come see us. Or move!
Then they go on. If you live in Defense but do not have a car, which means you cook or clean for a Resident, then he must register you and you must wear an identity card round your neck at all times!
I have a feeling that many proper Residents are going to find that suddenly there is too much salt in their food, or none at all, and most of the leftovers have been pushed under the carpet or sofa along with the rest of the household muck. Someone should also tell these guys that the man who cooks is not a batman. And a batman is not a minion the regiment gives you, he is hulking big hombre in a plastic suit who fights crime and lives in this great mansion with Robin!


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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