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     Volume 6 Issue 25 | June 29, 2007 |

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View from the Bottom

The 'Goodness' Shop

Shahnoor Wahid

My friend Hormuz Pathan has opened a new shop. He has twenty shops in the city to sell all sorts of strange things. You name it he has it. He even owns the only 'undertaker' shop in the country. Well, he called me up the other day and gave the address of the new shop so that I attend the milad on the opening day. I wonder why shop owners start a business where with every opportunity they fleece a customer, some even cheat and deceive them, by organising a milad mehfil! God is tolerant indeed!

To quench my curiosity -- anything about Hormuz Pathan including his name arouses profound curiosity in me -- I went to the shop after the religious extravaganza was over. He was alone in the shop. I took a look around. It was full of CDs, tapes, booklets, brochures and posters. I looked at the titles on some packets. They read: Integrity, Honesty, Values, Accountability, Transparency, Good Governance, Good Conduct, Income Tax Return, White Money, Party Democracy, Dynastic Rule, Independent Judiciary and so on and so forth. Intrigued, I looked at Hormuz. He was looking intently at a newly arrived packet. It read Anti Corruption. I asked him what was the meaning of this. He smiled and offered me a cold drink.

Then he said, “Dost, you know it very well that I only sell rare things, things that are on their way to extinction. Such things fetch good money. At the moment, everyone, everywhere is talking about these things…it's a great renaissance…a belated realisation…honesty…integrity…accountability…values…morals…and so on. These people are frantically looking for them here and there, under their bed, behind doors, beneath the bushes, and in the depth of ponds. Ridiculous isn't it? So I thought I would import them from some overseas countries and sell them to those who would need them.

I asked him, “But do you think these things have totally vanished from the country? How can a nation survive without them?”

Hormuz Pathan smiled and said, “Friend, if these were in circulation, things would not have come to such a pass. You are right. It is indeed incomprehensible how this country has survived so far without the principles you talk about so emphatically. Tell me, why is my younger brother looking for opportunity to line up with some politicians and some unscrupulous government officials?”

I told him I had no idea.

Hormuz said, “He got so encouraged reading about people making 200, 400, 1000 crore in a couple of years by being close to power that he has stopped working hard in his factory saying that in his lifetime he will never be able to make that kind of money running an honest trade. He wants to join politics and wants to be near where power is. He says he does not care about values and morals. He says he will be able to buy values, morals and respect with money”

I said, “But what about people going to jail for doing that?”

Hormuz replied, “ I told him that too, but he said he was ready to go to jail for three years, five years, six years. He would manage to survive in the hole and then come out one day to enjoy the money. One has to pay in some way to have that kind of wealth, my brother philosophised.”

Well, quite a strong logic that. I had nothing more to say. I went back home thinking where have some of the so-called politicians and some government officials taken the nation in last ten years or so. I also wondered where were all the so-called honest and righteous politicians and government officials hiding so long? Today we see them in talk shows talking about all the good things on earth. With them around, how could a handful of people in the name of running the government ravage the country in such blatant ways?



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