Portrait of a Collaborator

  • Umair Gul
  • Publish Date: Feb 2 2017 6:22PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 2 2017 6:22PM
Portrait of a Collaborator

                                                     Illustration by Suhail Naqshbandi/ KI

There is a collaborator in us all. Make use of it before the offer expires


Let us be under no mirage, we all collaborate-consciously, sub-consciously or unconsciously. We could be anyone- Occupational armed personnel ready to pull a trigger at will, a civil servant signing PSA dossiers, a puppet legislator elected by a farce process or a military exercise, A social media manager, a vocal spokesperson, a sarpanch or a voter and all of them have been criminalized enough though everyone has excuses for being one among them. Then there is another class of subconscious collaborator – journalists and writers who have sold their pen, artists who decorate occupation, teachers who teach propaganda, engineers, contractors etc. Then there is a class of unconscious collaborators of men and women who claim to fight occupation but indulge in self righteousness. There is yet another category – a class of black sheep, who in popular Kashmiri lingo are referred to as mukhbir. So all the bad guys in movies from Gabbar to Mugambo , all need a mukhbir. Being Mukhbir is being bad and being bad-I don’t know. When bad becomes the new good, collaboration becomes duty. 

Earth had to revolve several thousand years for him to be born.  As he grew up, he realized the importance of a collaborator in his society. Smoking a long, smooth cigarette on the verandah of his mansion he doesn’t have much regret about his life. He scratches his clean shaven face. He gets up and while taking a look at the noisy crowded town realizes his significance. It is he who stands between them and their aspirations. There is an eye bank and that is his achievement. There is a graveyard and there are blooming flowers in it. There is an old woman who keeps looking at her door. There are people looking at each other. He doesn’t know anyone, but he erases them merely as numbers. There is despair. So he smiles. He has a beautiful smile. He is a nemophilist. He loves solitude so he kills the company. He is a nelipot. So, he has neither a car nor a shoe. He is an aesthete of blood. He loves painting the sky red. He is a great businessman. He invests wisely. No wonder he bought shares of a Braille manufacturing private limited last year. His two daughters who have taken up courses on human rights and film making on his insistence, know the worth and long-sightedness of his visionary decisions. 

Only the collaborator respects human rights as a discipline in need. A dead man needs a post-mortem. Tortured bodies need some nursing. A disappeared boy needs some mourning.  A blind man needs two eyes. An orphan has to be put in orphanage. So the world has to be told stories about erased numbers. Mathematicians, Biologists and psychologists all work for him. Dividing the numbers and calculating the percentages, decoding the DNA and interpreting our dreams. He caters to all the requirements meant for maintaining peace. He often goes uptown disguised as a banker and sits in those coffee shops, where the oppressed elite flock, seek and fling. He pays their bills and goes down town to witness self flagellation. He doesn’t love paying bills but that is his entertainment. Rumor is rife that he starts rumors that become rife. He has no partners in collaboration .He likes it alone. He doesn’t hunt in a pack. He is a lone wolf but if need be snakes can marry rats and bulls chase lizards. 

Speaking at the bakers shop against him, a young boy describes him as an anti social element, a drug addict, a failed lover, an abused child, a school dropout, paid agent , an elite hypocrite renegade and a desktop-keyboard collaborator.. Another old man sympathetic to him describes his activities as a result of alienation. The baker woman describes the collaborator as an unemployed, misled man. A bearded gentleman describes him as a brainwashed, religious fanatic used by an enemy country. However the wisest of them, a woman dawning green Abaya loathing in frustration recalls how she once saved him, expecting a change of heart in return. She is quick to add the effort that her late father had put in to kill the collaborator in him, but as they say “you can take the boy out of collaboration but not collaboration out of the boy”. A village elder, who some years ago was a bitter enemy of this collaborator, however was full of praise for him and strange as it may sound ,his biological clock automatically alarms him after six years to sing hymns in his favor and then he dances too. 

Finally when the baker had listened to everyone, he came up with his own analysis as he coughed in between a slightly feminine voice, “he is uneducated and so am I, if he and I would have been to school, he would have never been a collaborator and you people wouldn’t have had a baker”. However another young man with a cricket bat and a volley ball in his hand joins the baker’s political talk and shouts at the village plumber “your lethargy created him! You never did a repair at his home. He needs development and repair. Bad plumbing produces collaborators”. The village money lender who has it all calculated does some self flagellation and blames the village for making a hero out of a collaborator. He proposed an alternative hero making mechanism whereby the local milkman, grocer, carpenter, the mystic, the hippy, the Romeo, and even the lazy plumber are to be seen as heroes. Thus came up a calendar with each month dedicated to “new heroes“.

There is a collaborator in us all. Make use of it before the offer expires.