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Archive for October, 2013

After a year of blogging I have neglected it for one third of a year. This was not planned. I just got busy in a serious writing project with a self-imposed deadline lurking over my head. My only breaks were weekend meetings with friends,  Gallery Hops  and occasional late night movies.  Last night I viewed Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a 2011 production that many of you may have already seen .  The movie is made in association with HASBRO, the toy company who had come up with this original idea of toys getting in and out of different avatars.

The story is about a peaceful race of intelligent mechanical beings that go through a civil war as a faction of auto parts fight for their freedom. Their defeat was certain but at the tail end of the war comes a ray of hope in the form of a mechanical being carrying a secret cargo. The destiny would have changed but the being crashed in the moon.  Fast forward and the story gets linked with the landing of man on the moon. What a wonderful hook, could have transformed in an engaging story but most of it was wasted in the extravaganza of special effects.

So here I am back to blogging, a little lost, perhaps, I can write on the origins of the concept of Transformers that had lived with us humans since ancient times.  Mangho Pir, an obscure shrine in the neighborhood of Karachi comes to mind with its nearby lagoon of crocodiles.  Legend has it that these monstrous animals were once the hair lice of the Pir (saint) Mangho who is buried in the shrine. The devotees of Mangho are Sheedis, a minority of Sindhis and Balochis of African origin, crocodiles  of their Pir are also sacred to them. I cannot write much on the subject because there is not much material available and, at the moment, I am not motivated to indulge in another serious research.

So here I am once again lost and looking at the lush green backyard through the glass wall. The tree leaves are just beginning to change color, autumn has come late and tonight is Halloween.  Many Americans will be watching Stephen Kings’ movies or reading Poe’s poems while their kids go trick or treating. My neighbor has decorated her porch with cobwebs, skeletons and pumpkins and news reporters are already on the hunt for Halloween stories, two days ago I read of Woody Allen going as Woody Allen to a pre- Halloween party  Out of curiosity I also visited the site Rotten Tomatoes to see the movie list recommended for Halloween night. There is plenty of choice in The Fresh Links section -‘Scariest Horror Movies,’  ‘13 Terrifying Movies on Netflix’  and ‘100 Best Horror Movies.’ The Exorcist continues to remain popular, the tagline is so true:

Ask 10 people what their favorite horror movie is, and chances are over half will say “The Exorcist.”

It’s a 1973 classic, which I have not yet bothered to watch as I have never even watched live shows of possessed girls been beaten almost to death to rid them of their devil.  It is not a common spectacle but it happened a few times in my village in Sindh. What I long to see however, are the great performances of the storytellers and most of the villagers in those days were great story tellers. As a tribute to their great talent I will share only one story, let this be a Pakistani story for Halloween.

When Sindh, which is now a province of Pakistan, was in the lantern era, when automobiles were not known and the roads were not paved and nobody had heard the railway whistles, people avoided night travels, only the courageous would take a chance. It was in those days that a man robust and alert, wearing a heavy white turban was riding back home at nightfall. While the horse trotted by an abandoned brick-kiln his ears pricked up and soon the man heard the bleat of a baby goat. As they moved on bleats grew louder and desperate as though the little animal was pleading for shelter. The man was kind he took pity on the goat like how we take pity on the lost dogs and cats. He stopped the horse and got down to carry the animal. The goat was heavier than he expected somehow he was able to seat her on the saddle with little  pairs of legs stretching on both sides of the horse back. As the man mounted the horse, the little animal crept closer to her savior.  The journey continued and after a little distance, once again the horse’s ears pricked up. The man tried to look through the moonlight but could spot only another abandoned kiln in the distant. For no reason he shrank little further from the animal who was asleep by now.

They say, Sindh is a country blessed and cursed at the same time. Millions of saints are buried in this tract of land but devil still succeeds in getting in the souls of young girls; occasionally at nightfall it resides in the animal bodies. There was a little chill in the air, or at least the man had begun to feel it now. He also repented accommodating the baby goat as he felt it had become a burden between him and his horse. He recited a Koranic verse that has the power of keeping the devil away. It gave him some security but after a while he felt something was dragging along with horse’s hind legs, perhaps a branch of tree got entangled, he thought.  But the horse moved on smoothly and the man did not stop to check. However,  after a miles journey when something kept rubbing against his ankles he reached for it and gripped the furry skin and bone of goat’s leg. As he ran his hand through the leg he realized that it had assumed an enormous length.  It were the goat’s legs, touching the ground and dragging all along, they were now longer than the horse’s legs. The man panicked, pulling his hands away he jumped from the horseback.  Next morning he was found, burning with fever, by a few villagers. The man had lived long enough to tell and retell his experience and ‘the story passed on from one generation to another and finally came to our village’ said the storyteller, as he will always say this line while ending each story.

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