When people stand for public office the presumption is that they are better than others. But public figures here expect the same immunity as that of a private citizen. Politicians stall basic queries, even about the number of wives and children they may have, in the name of morality. We want to contest them through innuendo, humour and sarcasm—our best weapon in a society that suppresses information to the hilt.No hard feelings we hope—Editor
By: Neetam Rima
Who is the biggest influence on President Asif Zardari? We can tell you it is not his son Bilawal, Faryal Baji or even his golden briefcase-holder Qayyum Soomro—even if he continues to claim that he is the official taster of the President.
It’s Motumal. Ever heard of him? Well, he is the President’s chief jotshi. He is a leading lawyer and a human rights activist--a fine gentleman but a finer astrologer-cum-palmist particularly specializing in numerology. Five minutes you spend with him and he will make you change your name, car, house or even spouse—more hubbies get changed than wives though. He never got married himself as this was not recommended in his ‘janam-kundli.’ Imagine his power over the most powerful person in Pakistan. How did he get there?
Faryal Baji, as Godfather, is superstitious. She has always had great faith in Motumal, who is well known among old Sindhi families. Sindhi Hindus claim they pioneered astrology and Motumal is one of them. Sindhi and Rajhistani Rajas always had official jotshis. When everything failed jotshi was asked to suggest aupai (solution). It was time for Asif to have one if he wanted to be a Raja, she thought.
Asif Zardaris was going through hell at the turn of the last millennium. He had been in jail for two years. Benazir Bhutto was virtually exiled and he could not even meet children. His captor, Nawaz Sharif was going strong after his ‘heavy mandate’ and threw out Jahangir Karamat as Army Chief. Tormentor-in-Chief Saifur Rehman tortured him physically—remember when Asif’s tongue was cut by a blade.
Aghast, Faryal Baji presented herself before the oracle. “Motumal, the most powerful and the one who can read stars, please do something,” beseeched Faryal on her knees. Motumal took his time and asked her not to worry. “I see the skies clearing in a few months,” said Motumal the oracle. “It will not be over completely but some respite will come. I also see dangerous things.”
“What dangerous thing Saeen,” she asked. “War,” he said. “War? What are you talking about; what did you drink today,” she could not resist bursting but then controlled herself so that the oracle should not be annoyed. “Oh, the great one, please explain; my Bhayya Saeen is going to die,” she said crying, tears rolling down her cheeks, asli karamti surma that Soomro had got from Karbala all over her face.
Motumal looked in the sky, chanting Sanskrit words, announced that it’s a war between India and Pakistan. His eyes shining, he thundered, “I see clouds of war hanging in the Sub-continent; Jupitar is clearly clashing with mars; this means that Agni is in rage, hence war, piraschit karna ho ga.”
“But Saeen, Vajpai is coming to Pakistan and both countries are moving towards peace; how is this possible,” Baji argued.
The oracle took it as an offence. “You challenge the only greatjotshi left on this side of the border; What will happen to this country if I also leave; now I will not tell you the aupai,” he said angrily. “This is what I see; go tell your Bhayya that it’s going to happen around May 20th. I am now giving you a date.”
But before she left, he gave her good news that one day Bhayya was going to be a Raja, saying, “it’s in his stars.”
The poor Baji was mixed up. She could not figure out whether this was good news or bad. Anyway, she wanted to mitigate Bhayya’s misery. So she went over to him and told him everything that the jotshi had said verbatim. “Jhoota hai sala,” Bhayya flared up. ‘And you too; I thought you were smarter and could do more than cook Sindhi Biryani.”
She tried to convince him about the great prowess of the jotshi and how he had predicted a few things in the past. But Asif repeated the same argument about Vajpayee and peace that she had repeated before the jotshi. Bhayya was not convinced and admonished her for wasting time on such fakes.
Poor Baji, her face blackened perpetually from karamti surma—Soomro be damned--came out more dejected and started waiting for May 20th. She got up early in the morning that day to see newspapers. Nothing there. She even went outside to see in the sky if there were any signs of war, smoke, planes, anything. There was nothing on radio or TV either. She called Motumal and asked about his prophecy. “The stars can't predict the exact time; give them a margin of four, five days. You wait,” he told her. It was the most terrible time for her until two days when she was woken up by her sister, shouting “Get up, there’s a war between India and Pakistan in Kargil.” Baji went into a sudden sijda, chanting, “ shukr, shukr, Maula shukr.” Perplexed, her sister thought Baji had gone bonkers. Little did she know what was there to be happy about a war. “Bhaya is going to be a Raja; Karamti surma has worked,” she told her surprised sister. Since then Motumal has never looked back.
He remains the most important person at the Presidency. He claims he even predicted 9/11 but the Johnies in the US did not believe in this ‘crap.’ He was a regular guest while Asif was at Ziauddin Hospital in Karachi. The voluptuously beautiful nurses that Dr Asim made sure were always around will vouch for this. He predicted the trajectory of Asif’s life accurately. After all, he did become Raja. So you know why Motumal is so important.
The good thing is that he is an honest soul, the kind who would not misuse his influence on the President. But then can we say this about the President. Who knows what he will do with the 'dark' knowledge that he gets through Motumal. Watch out. We will keep following the trail of Motumal.