ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Door

Stories are potent weapons we all can, and do, arm ourselves with without licence as exemplified by the phenomenon of The Professional Pakistani.

In the first version of the story, a mob of male relatives stoned a woman to death outside a courthouse in Lahore for marrying the man she wanted to instead of the man they wanted her to. In the second version of the story, the husband of the woman brutally slain in broad daylight in a street in Pakistan admitted he had killed his first wife so he could marry his second for love. In the third version of the story, the family of the woman bystanders watched die claimed it was her abusive husband’s family that had actually bludgeoned her to death with bricks. In each of these versions, shuffled details created the illusion of freshness. In each of these versions, the woman died. But that is not the story, that is just impotent fact.

Stories can be shield or lance. An angry woman could use a story like this to prick a well-meaning male friend into submission when he asks whether her feminism need be so strident. A conservative father could use it to deflect criticism of his own rigidity with his daughters onto the state of the world around him; he just wants to protect them, that’s all. Stories are potent weapons we all can, and do, arm ourselves with without licence. Take the meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi, and subsequent details from both sides on how they had bonded about their mothers. The dutiful south Asian son shone through. Wise men both, they knew to tap into that familiar tale, one that voters on both sides could step into without prejudice. All men are born of mothers, after all. But again that is not story, without details of sweets or shawl that is just impotent fact.

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