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FICTION

Court of fouls

By Safieh Kabir

We offer this city a courtroom, open 9:00 to 5:00 with judge, jury and witness stands. They will placate your angry eyes and tolerate the whine in your voice. You may come with every grievance, and justice will be served.

Now we watch.

The Auntie.
She enters, adjusting the kilogram of gold around her neck, ensuring the correct placement of her khopa with a touch to the back of her head. The excessively embroidered achol of her saree is pulled around to cover her right shoulder. She sniffs at the wooden benches and gives the judge a disapproving once-over, but upon reaching her designated place, she begins immediately.

Her complaint is of the girls who come to visit her son. Wily temptresses she describes, in clinging denim and t-shirts which occasionally slip to reveal (oh, horror!) the strap of an undergarment. Their eyes, lusty and devious, scour the skin of her innocent son, and their lips seem to swell to immoral sizes when his gaze falls upon them. She hears the mockery in their greetings, and sees the triumphant laughter in the corners of their eyes as they slip their arms through the boy's and walk off towards his room.

She demands that the court stop them stealing her poor baby away from her.

The Bua.
She is ten minutes late. She starts explaining as soon as she comes in, all about how she couldn't get a bus, and the rickshaw-puller asked for an exorbitant fare and then dropped her in the wrong place so she had to walk half the way, and then the rain started and she didn't have an umbrella so she got soaked through and now she will probably catch a fever. The judge motions for silence. She hooks the cloth of her ghumta behind her ears and shuffles forward to her bench.

We hear from her of the new maid in the house, a stripling of a woman who lacks proper respect for her seniors. This woman has hypnotised the lady of the house with her doe eyes and sugar-coated words, but our Bua recognises her for the good-for-nothing slacker that she is. She chops the vegetables wrong, washes the dishes with too much Trix, and when our accuser, who cannot bend for an aching back, asks her to wipe the floors in her stead, the woman refuses. On top of this, her sarees are overly bright and she is too chatty by far with the drivers.

The Bua's smile is winsome, as she tells the gentlemen how powerful they are. If they request her mistress, surely she will agree to get rid of this pest?

The Teacher.
His belly enters first, and then his bespectacled eyes, which survey the jury like misbehaving children. His shirt is a dowdy blue check, and his trousers sit slightly too high. He scolds them as he walks, for the long lines and disorganisation. He could, he says, have done it much better. The judge waits patiently as his ramble gains momentum and finally comes round to the topic.

He has come to complain of his job. Every morning he wakes at 6:00 and leaves the comforts of his quilt and bed to go to work. The classrooms are hot, and the pay is too low for an honest man who does not earn tax-free income from tutoring. Most of all, the students are obnoxious. Brains seem to be diminishing by the year. Half the children are never in class, and the ones who are, never sit down. When he reprimands them, they laugh at him.

The Teacher cannot stand all this much longer. He insists that the court get his salary raised and legalise corporal punishment.

We find that this court faces difficulties. No more than three cases can be completed per day, and each one is difficult to conclude. The crimes are only crimes subjectively, witnesses are scarce, and the accusers are infuriating. It may not exist long, so if you have issues you wish to resolve without a firearm, put on your righteous smile and make no further delay.


Doppelgangers or Ghosts?

By Sarah Nafisa Shahid

The other day I'm at the airport just hanging. Because airports are cool and that's where things go down. If I can just come away with one gold biscuit, that'd set me up for life. Life being the next few of months. If I get a gold brick, awww yeah!

So, while there, I happened to catch a glimpse of this guy I work with. He was crying on his mother's shoulder and the gigantic amount of luggage at his feet indicated that he was leaving the country for a while. Due to the absence of cake in the last meeting, this was decidedly unexpected. Baffled and slightly indignant, I went up to confront him and to tell him to stop being a wimp and to give me the cake that was due me. Turns out you can't strong-arm strangers in airports; security does not like that, and does not intend to buy the fact that you may have made a mistake… unless you pay. It was a doppelganger, i.e. a look-alike. And the fact that the guy was wearing the same shirt that my colleague had worn at the previous meeting, and that it did not seem unusual to me, tells you heaps about the level of hygiene that some of my colleagues possess.

While it was a total Barney moment, heading home [not in the back of a police van; I got connections] I got to thinking about ghosts. Because that's what the term Doppelganger was used for in German folklore; to describe weird apparitions which looked similar to real individuals - a paranormal existence of a living person from the other world they said. Probably like a holographic projection of an individual from a parallel universe.

Considering that you can do anything in any of the parallel universes, you might as well see your Doppelganger (the folklore version with a capital 'D') married to Christian Bale in one fine holographic projection. In Norse mythology, Doppelgangers actually show you what you might do in the future. Writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once saw his Doppelganger return from Drusenheim while he was heading towards it and eight years later, the writer was doing the same donned in the same suit he had seen his Doppelganger in. So, if you see a holographic projection of yourself getting married to Christian Bale, there is a possibility of that happening in the future. I choose to believe this explanation.

But then imagine all those people who gladly hire their ghost as a political decoy. Saddam Hussein used doppelgangers for various appearances during his Iraq reign and so did Stalin and Hitler for security measures during their respective rule in their respective countries. And there's even a myth that Osama Bin Laden's doppelgangers were constantly in action to deceive the US military while he was alive. Did he actually manage the deception? Who knows?

What is known though, is that even if German folklore ghosts seem quite unreal, look-alikes are quite real and often famous (see: Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel). The phenomenon is so immense that some look-alikes even earn a living out of it; especially Elvis doubles in Las Vegas.

By the time I'm home, I'm desperate for a doppelganger or at least a twin. Life would be so much easier, like the Prestige. Then my little brother comes up to me, extremely excited, and starts blabbering about Higgs-Boson and anti-matter. Anti-matter - similar in every way except it is the opposite; touch it and you go bye-bye. You know what, I'm fine just the way I am. Barney and the HIMYM are on their own on this one.



 

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