He was a 16 years old boy of small stature but big dreams. His real name was Rafiq but everybody called him Feeka. As mentioned earlier, Feeka was a man of dreams. Just like a wall is made of bricks, human tissue is made of cells, Feeka was made of dreams. He dreamt of becoming a world renowned author. Yet, whenever he held a pen with the intent of producing a master piece, his mind went blank and his fingers grew numb. He read several books about how to become a writer but to no avail. One day, he became really infuriated by endless, fruitless hours of staring at walls with a pen in his hand and blank papers staring back at him from his writing desk. He decided to seek advice on this matter from a writer whose column he regularly read in the local newspaper. After some effort, he managed to trace the author in question, Mr. Majzoob Ahmed Qureshi. Qureshi Saheb agreed to meet him the coming Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Feeka spent more time in shower than usual. He put on a crisp white Kurta Shalwar, applied oil infused with Jasmine to his head and sprinkled a generous quantity of Itar on his clothes. Before leaving, he cast a look at his image in the mirror. On a last note, he tucked an expensive pen (that he used exclusively for his writing sessions) in his pocket and headed towards Shahi mohalla where the literary rendezvous was supposed to take place. A brief excerpt from Feeka’s conversation with Majzoob Ahmed Quraishi is quoted here:
Feeka: Assalam o alaikum, Sir. I am your greatest fan ever.
Quraishi Sb (Twisting his moustache): So is everybody else. What brings you here, young boy?
Feeka: Sir, I want to be a great writer. No, the greatest writer, just like yourself, sir.
Quraishi Sb: Your last sentence smells of great ambition. But I don’t want to discourage you. So what is it that you want to write about? Politics, history, current affairs..?
Feeka: I want to write a story. An epic story, like Romeo Juliet, Heer Ranjha, Laila Majnoo, Jack Rose…
Quraishi Sb: Cut it, I know where this is going. By the way, I can already tell that of all the titles you just mentioned, your only inspiration is the last one. So how can I help you, young boy? Surely, you don’t expect me to write a story and put your name as the author?
Feeka: Oh no, Quraishi Sb. I am an original writer. I just want you to answer some of my queries.
Quraishi Sb: Let’s hear them.
Feeka takes out his pen and a paper and assumes an alert position, ready to take notes.
Feeka : What should be the theme of my story, I mean, action, thriller,..
Quraishi Sb: Make it romance. It has universal appeal. You see, people from all religions, countries and intellectual caliber can relate to it. Everybody wants a piece of the pie, let’s give them the whole pie in your story.
Feeka: How many characters should be there in my story?
Quraishi Sb: The less, the better. Kill the hero’s parents in an accident before he was born.
Feeka: Err, Sir that defies some basic rules of biology.
Quraishi Sb: Alright, kill them in an accident when they were coming back from hospital with the baby. Everybody dies, but the baby.
Feeka: What about hero’s siblings?
Quraishi Sb (smiling proudly): The hero was the first baby in the family.
Feeka: What about the heroine?
Quraishi Sb: That’s a tricky question, we can’t kill them all in car accident, can we?—-a long pause—-The heroine’s mother commits suicide after discovering her husband’s extra-marital affairs and the husband commits suicide after hearing about his wife’s death.
Feeka (reluctantly): But if the husband loved his wife so much as to commit suicide in the wake of her demise, what was all that about—the affairs, I mean ?
Quraishi Sb: You are too young to understand human psychology, my boy. In a nutshell, at any given time, there should be a bird in hand and two or more in the bush. The ones in the bush can be replaced, but if the one in hand is lost, you are broke—–well, sort of.
Feeka: Alright. What should be the heroine’s name?
Feeka (blushing): Yes.
Quraishi Sb: Shoot.
Feeka: Dilshaad Begum.
Quraishi Sb: Is this your romantic best?
Feeka (confused): Umm, no..
Quraishi Sb: Good. Because otherwise, I would have thrown you out of my house. Let’s call our heroine Gulbakaouli. There is something mysterious about that name, like a fairy who lost her way to Koh-e-Kaaf and ended up landing on your writing pad. (Laughs). Poor, little fairy. (Laughs again). And name your hero Batlamyus. That’s the only name I can think of that rivals the eccentricity of Gulbakaouli.
Feeka: What should be the timeline of our story? I mean, birth to death, only youth, two generations?
Quraishi Sb: Like I said earlier, the less, the better. Haven’t you heard that sometimes a few moments spent between two complete strangers outweighs decades of camaraderie. Let us reinforce the potency of the moment instead of drawing on years of nonsense.
Feeka: What should be the location for this story? How about our desi Lake district aka Kaghan?
Quraishi Sb: Make it Karachi. It would be easier to have them shot dead by terrorists than to devise a believable death plot in Kaghan.
Feeka: That’s heartless. Please suggest an alternate means of death.
Quraishi Sb: It’s time you get going. (Pointing to unfinished manuscripts on his desk) I have business to attend to.
Feeka: Thank you Quraishi Sahib from the bottom of my heart. I am your greatest fan ever.
Quraishi Sb (Twisting his moustache): So is everybody else. Khuda Hafiz.
The same night, Feeka wrote his first story that went on to become the most iconic fictional piece of writing of the century. The story was as follows:
“Gulbakaouli and Batlamyus: A love story made in heaven”
Once upon a time, there was a Gulbakaouli and a Batlamyus. Batlamyus was an only child and lost his parents soon after he was born. Gulbakouli = same as above. Now, this Gulbakaouli was a girl of exceptional beauty. She had the eyes of a deer, long hair like snakes and the gait of a peacock. In other words, there was hardly any human quality about her. As for Batlamyus, he was tall as a pine tree and had the gait of a lion. In other words, he was the product of a unique genetic mutation between the animal and the plant kingdom.
One day, Gulbakaouli went to the market to buy medicine for her sick aunt. Batlamyus was playing cricket in the street along with a bunch of equally vain friends. When Batlamyus saw Gulbakaouli, the moment that wraps up in it years of camaraderie took place. To impress Gulbakaouli, Batlamyus struck a powerful sixer. The ball hit Gulbakaouli straight in the head and she died of severe head injury there and then. When Batlamyus saw Gulbakaouli die in front of his eyes, he couldn’t bear the pain and had a massive heart attack. All the other characters at the spot grabbed a gun and took turns shooting themselves. If the hero and heroine are dead, there is no point in having extras roam about.
Moral: Brevity is the soul of wit.