Once upon a time, but not long, long ago, a meeting of mice was held in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. For the righteous republicans who had gathered in underground Islamabad, the topic of hot discussion was that abominable autocrat, the cat of Rawalpindi. How to escape its clutches rather, its claws? That was the problem. Many were the ways and means suggested for tackling the terror. Finally a wise, old mouse said, let’s face it, we are a nation of mice and have always been ruled by a succession of cats. As born mice, we are born with the skill to scamper. Unfortunately, often times we don’t have enough time to take to our hind heels because of the soundless stealth with which the cat strikes. There is no advance notice, which is crucial for our survival. So the basic problem is: How can we know when the cat is coming? Again many were the ways proposed, including sending secret agents to catland to keep tabs on the tabby. This preposterous proposal was summarily shot down on the valid ground that it would amount to home delivery for the cat’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Finally, the same wise mouse had a brilliant idea: let’s bell the cat! That way we’ll hear it coming and have enough time to scamper to safety. The very novelty of the idea took the meeting by storm. Everyone acclaimed it enthusiastically. But then the wise mouse asked: So who’ll bell the cat? There was pin-drop silence. Then everyone looked at the two mice jointly chairing the meeting. With great daring they agreed. Since then they have been making bold squeaking sounds. One of them even dared to place an order for a bell made in the USA. At the same time, it was also reported that he was thinking of scampering away to the safety of a foreign hole. Watching all this drama, the cat virtuously declared I assure all and sundry that I’m not going to eat any more mice. The question is, “sou sou chuhay khay ke is Kayani the cat chali Hāj ko?”
Darwin was condemned for saying man descended from monkey. Serve him right, says Satiricus. For what Darwin should have said was that monkey ascended from man. Why else would anyone feel the need to study simian society, and compare (or contrast) it with human society? For that is what a certain American scientist was trying to do some time back. It was reported by the media that he was camping in the jungle near Mysore to study the “social” habits of a certain species of monkeys. He even sported whiskers and a beard like a monkey so that the monkeys would take him for a fellow-monkey and admit him into their social circle. Well, now, what do you know? Satiricus had heard the phrase making a monkey out of somebody, but he had not heard of anybody making a monkey out of himself. Anyway, Satiricus hopes that this study progressed from ‘social’ to ‘political’ and this scientist learnt the monkey business that passes for Indian politics.
Then again, if a monkey can have a social sense and a political proclivity, why can’t it have an artistic ability? It can and it does. Believe it or not, in a sanctuary in Canada a monkey of the Capuchin type has earned a reputation as an artist, and his paintings have been sold to buyers in Europe for hundreds of dollars. He uses not only a brush but also his hands, feet, even his tail to daub paint on canvas. That settles it. Satiricus knows he is not much of a journalist, so he has now decided to leave journalism and become a painter.
God can do anything. So can a computer these days. From writing poetry at one end to formulating foreign policy at the other, there is virtually nothing the computer cannot do virtually. But can a computer become a journalist? While giving a speech during London sometime back, an American journalist firmly asserted, “Never”. Journalist Satiricus begs to differ. For he equally firmly believes that a computer and a journalist are virtually doing the same job. The reason is that both work on the same basic principle GIGO, Garbage In, Garbage Out. Read an election manifesto of any political party, for instance. Could you find better-quality garbage anywhere else? And the party that writes it knows it. For after the election not only the losing party but also the winning party dumps it in the garbage dump. Has anyone seen a party riding to power on election-time promises remembering those promises later? Nature is full of freaks, but Satiricus is sure such a party is not one of them.