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     Volume 7 Issue 24 | June 13, 2008 |

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Saad Z Hossain

“Sir, sir, we have urgent need of you.”

Ah, of course you have need of me. I have been waiting for this moment. There is hardly enough time to consider all the people I could be helping. Look at this boy in front of me, shaking, sweating, clutching his papers, gazing up like a supplicant. He would most likely perish without my help. There is no man like me in a crisis.


Impertinent fool. Perhaps I should banish him. But he seems so pathetic there, like a dog, or some kind of farm animal perhaps. Not that I accept applications from animals.

“Sir there is a dreadful grain crisis, after the storm and…”

“Yes, young man, the grain, indeed is in crisis. I have developed a new sort of grain for us to use. One that will change the entire character of the chapati. Breakfast will never be the same again.” I lean back in satisfaction, modestly enjoying the admiring looks the boy is giving me. Of course, modesty is very important. I love chapatis for breakfast. I have heard the poor eat them for dinner too. Perhaps I ought to mention that in my speech. That would make my brilliance twice as relevant.

“Sir, it's the shortage of the grain…”

What? The impudent brat is still blathering on about grain?

“Young man, I have already solved the grain problem. Tell the farmers to throw out the old grain and get to work fast. I cannot keep solving all the problems if no one else does any work.”

“The prices, sir, are rising,” he says sheepishly, hardly daring to look me in the eye. “The world market, sir, we cannot find enough food anywhere…” Poor boy! He seems so embarrassed. Probably because he is wearing such shabby clothes in front of me. He hasn't even got a decent pair of shoes. Look I can see my reflection in mine. I have such good hair. This poor boy hardly has any hair, and he must be half my age. I suppose he'll never get married, with no hair and no shoes. I decide immediately to be extra kind to him.

“Come, young Abdul, try to keep up. We have solved the grain crisis. What else have you in that file?” He looks so grateful, the way he is staring at me without blinking. I have stunned him perhaps by remembering his name. I think I shall only hire Abduls from now on.

“Sir the water supply problem in the flood affected areas…”

Ah, the flood wiped out a great quantity of flora and fauna. As a world famous termite specialist, only I am able to appreciate the truly horrific impact of this event. Countless species knocked out with one stroke -- the sheer scale of the calamity, those helpless termite colonies blown apart by the wind, or drowned in salt water, or smashed by falling trees, or even crushed underfoot by some careless lout. The reckless disregard for the environment shown by our citizens always enrages me. I am an expert environmentalist of course. I have discovered and named a number of termite species unheard of in the west. The Coptotermes Presidenticus, is my favourite. They should have given me the Prize. All that other fool did was go around showing some boring home video.

“Listen Abdul, I have had a terrible thought. We must get fresh water down to the coastal area immediately. Forget about the chapatis. Make this your number one priority!” Look at the way his eyes light up. He is, in fact, astounded by my decisiveness. “Everyone has forgotten that the Coptotermes Presidenticus cannot possibly live in salt water.”

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