Blasphemed when no such aid befell:
A Cat, who feasted on that mouse,
Thought Allah managed vastly well.
‘Arrut Lutkay’ was the Pashto word for Persian wheels, Ghafoor Khan reminded himself. It was what he had been told as a child. He remembered being told about it by his grandfather, when he was very young. “ my child, remember life is like the Persian wheel, what goes around comes around, that is why you should always try to be good because you know not what will be your fate at Allahs hands when times are tough”
The Persian wheel ‘Arrut Lutkay’ was an interesting contraption, a water lifting device used to lift water from open wells. The wheels cyclic turns were a common sight in Ghafoor Khans village in Nowshera.
It has been a good few years, after the rocky start during Military rule. Ghafoor Khan had high hopes initially of Pervaiz Musharrafs government. It was an impossible situation in those days, the Army monitoring teams were either checking everything meaning nothing was getting done and people were getting angry. It was either that or they wanted all the money for themselves, and if you spoke about it they would ‘fix’ you.
Things got better after 2002 though with the MMA government, their inexperienced Ministers did not really know what they were doing for the first few years. It was fairly straightforward to befriend them and in time teach them the way things were done. ‘He would miss them, after all they did take to the politics of omission and commission really well, ‘it is amazing what you can hide in a beard’ he considered.
In 2008, the new government had come to power, but Ghafoor Khan found them hard work ‘Zardari was just too greedy, his party people wanted too much too quickly.’.
Time moved on, and then came that fateful day in 2010, rumours had spread about floods from nearby villages. Ghafoor Khan did not think much of it, after all there had been no warnings from his friends in the government (‘nothing like this had not happened in a hundred years they said’). The Media had not mentioned anything, as he had turned on the television to check ‘ No cause for concern, mentioned by them either something about a crashed plane, poor people’.
That night Ghafoor woke with a start, the house was flooding, and he and his wife and kids were unable to get out of his village house in the dark. Left with no option, they all hid on the first floor and watched as the water steadily rose. They then climbed up the stairs to the 2nd floor and again watched as the pouring water started to rise. The terrified Ghafoor, thought his time had come, his wheel had turned and Allah had decided to punish him for his ways. Why else would he be left to die like this while everyone else had safely escaped? He cursed himself, what was the point of his big fancy house and wealth? In that moment he swore he would not make the same mistakes again, all he needed was a sign from Allah.
The water was rising once again, his young son shouted to him, “Why don’t we climb on to the roof?” Ghafoor dejected but agreeable helped everyone climb to the roof in the pitch dark. “Those stupid children down the road and the neighbours will laugh at how I have finally got my comeuppance. “
Dawn broke soon and the water had started receding, Ghafoor looked around, where were the other villagers or the Army? Instead he saw the ruins of his neighbourhood houses and the neighbours dead body floating. It would be another day before any help arrived. As the relief workers picked up Ghafoor and his family, the young man looked at him, his tired family and his huge house and said “you’re a blessed man, not many people have made such tall houses. The others have just been washed away, many have been drowned and others are ill. Allah must have been watching over you last night. You must have done many good deeds”
Perhaps, Ghafoor thought, this young man was right, perhaps that was his mistake, perhaps that is what the Persian wheel was teaching him.
‘Next time around I will need to make an even bigger house. I wonder how much I can make as tehsildar of Peshawar?’