A Desi Dilemma

With a contented smile Darya Khan beamed at the hodgepodge of houses and shops from the safety of his window seat in the airplane. He couldn’t wait to be with his kinfolk and walk proudly among his Muslim and Pathan brethren.

With a jerk the plane landed and despite repeated requests from the

air hostesses as well as the pilot, most of Darya’s brethren got up from their seats and tried to shove past each other in order to reach the closed gate of the plane that was still in motion.

Still smiling, Darya woke up his 10 year old son, to tell him that they were back home, back to the N.W.F.P. His son was taken aback by this sudden disorderly outbreak, and he was further confused by his father’s beaming smile, wondering what exactly made him so happy. But his father had more than enough reasons to be contented.

Darya Khan was a Pathan from the tribal belt of N.W.F.P. He came to the United States during the early 90s. The beginning days were really tough for him, but thanks to the co-operation among the fledgling community he was able to get better paying jobs and cut his expenses down as well.

Darya Khan’s turned him into a workaholic, with a diligent routine and negligible expenses he was soon able to buy a taxi of his own. From that point his fortunes took a turn and within a span of 15 years he was the owner of a grocery store. Soon he arranged for his wife to be brought to the U.S.

Before long he was the proud father of a son as well as a worried father of a daughter. Ever since the birth of Nabeela, Darya had been caught in a very dilemma. What happens when she grows up?

He knew that he had to go back to , but it was “when” that he was confused about. Although he had done really well, he still lived in an apartment and drove only a Toyota Corolla. The problem with that was that, he wanted more; he wanted the great American dream, a suburban house with a white picket fence and a big SUV. He knew that it wouldn’t be long before he would be able to buy all these things, but at what cost? At the cost of his ghairat?

“What if I have all these things but my daughter turns out to be like these American girls?” He would say to himself “Na, Na Tobah Tobah. Its not worth it then.”

It was this squabble inside of him that was tearing him apart. One day coming back from his store he saw his ten year old son Yasir talking to the neighbor’s daughter. He frowned and quickened his pace, the girl’s name was Sally and she was the only daughter of a lesbian couple. In Darya Khan’s book of this was as bad an influence as there ever could be.

Suddenly, Sally hugged Yasir and then kissed him on the cheek. Darya Khan’s heart sank as all his worries materialized in front of his eyes. He was horrified at the scene. What if it was his own daughter was doing that to some guy.

“THE KHAR BACHIYA!!! (You son of a donkey)” Roared Darya Khan as he slapped Yasir across the face.

Sally screamed and ran up stairs, Yasir ran after her.

Darya Khan stumbled on Sally’s skateboard.

Both Sally and Yasir locked themselves inside Sally’s apartment while Darya Khan pounded on the door. One of Sally’s mothers called the police and Darya Khan was arrested.

The legal proceedings astounded Darya, he felt helpless. What a bayghairat system? But he swallowed his pride and bore the brunt of his action. As soon as things had settled down, Darya sold his store, his apartment and with his said good bye to America for ever.

Darya had come back to Peshawar after 15 years and he couldn’t wait to see his brothers and his cousins. An entourage of about 25 men and boys had come to receive him on the airport. With garlands and tight hugs they welcomed him, and in a convoy of cars and pick up trucks they left for their village.

He was amazed at the way that things had changed in Peshawar. The traffic jams, the new buildings, the beards, the billboards, and yes the billboards with defaced !?!?

“Why have they done that?” He asked his cousin Younis Khan.

“This is a very good thing Lala jee, the Jews and the Hindus want to corrupt our morals, but Mashallah the MMA has foiled their plans.” He said proudly.

For the first time in his life, Darya Khan found himself guilty of having a liberal opinion and liberal in his subconscious had always been synonymous with bayghairat. He moved uneasily in his seat as he forced himself to agree with Younis Khan.

Darya Khan’s village had not changed much in its outlook, but the villagers had definitely changed in their appearance. To his horror Darya Khan discovered that he was the only clean shaven man in the whole village. His brothers were very cross with him for coming to the village without a beard. They barred him from leaving the Hujra (the men only section of the house) till his beard grew back.

Darya’s son Yasir was also having trouble fitting in; his elder cousins gave him an AK-47 as a welcome present. Yasir gave his father a perplexed look as in school he had always been told that guns were bad. Darya Khan’s nod of approval came as a surprise to Yasir, he picked up the gun and looked innocently at his cousins. One of his cousins who was Yasir’s age demonstrated how to load the gun and fired a few shots in the air. Yasir clung to his dad in fear and started crying.

After two weeks of self imposed imprisonment, and when his stubble started resembling a beard, Darya decided to pay a visit to his ageing cousin Khan Lala.

Khan Lala was a local celebrity and had had a somewhat “full” life. Over the course of his 70 years of life he had managed to kill a total of twelve men. He still cherished the memory of each of his murders and was well respected for his exploits as well as his short temper.

That day Khan Lala’s hujra had all of its regulars; these included the yes-men of his and his close relatives who still owed him for avenging their murdered brothers or fathers. Almost everyone had a white beard and with a hint of grey in his beard, Darya Khan didn’t feel himself that out of place.

The whole gathering rose up to greet Darya Khan, but he ran towards Khan Lala and stopped him from getting up. Khan Lala hugged his cousin, after which Darya Khan individually hugged everyone else. All of them had the same complaint Darya was either too busy or too rich to meet them. With bombardment from every side, all Darya could do was smile his fake smile and blush uncontrollably.

Finally Khan Lala changed the topic and asked him about things at home and how Yasir liked the village. With the pleasantries exchanged it wasn’t long before the topic changed to international politics.

“So how did u like America?” asked Khan Lala

“A nation of bayghairats” replied Darya, nodding his head in disapproval.

“Well what can we expect from Kafirs?” asked Khan Lala ” They have to be bayghairats because they have no Eman.”

“Bay Shuck Bay Shuck” chanted the chorus of yes-men.

“But there are bigger bayghairats than these Kafirs” said Khan Lala looking at everyone in the audience “Ask me who?”

“Who are they?” came a mix of voices

“It is YOU, it is ME, it is everyone who has said the Kalima Shahadah” he said in a calm voice “Ask me how so?”

“How so?” came a much synchronized reply

“because they make BETTER WEAPONS THAN US” Screamed Khan Lala

“Look at their inventions, they made grenades, they made Klashnikov, they made atom bum” contined Khan Lala “What do we make? replicas? that dont even work properly?”

Khan Lala stopped for a breath and then said,”Ask me how they invented their weapons”

“How did they invent them?” asked Darya Khan before anyone else could.

“Heh. They learnt it from the Holy Quran.” said Khan Lala as he beamed at everyone, daring them to disagree with him.

“Subhan Allah, Subhan Allah” came the reply.

“They used OUR Quran to make air planes and atom bombs and then they use it against us” said Khan Lala “Arent we the bayghairat ones? We should have had all this , but we gave it to them. Just because we are too lazy to read the Quran.”

“But how did they learn it from the Quran?” Asked a confused Darya Khan.

“Well how else do you think they came up with it?” Asked Khan Lala in a stern voice

“mmm gulp!” went Darya Khan

“I will tell you how” said Khan Lala,”when the Mongols conquered Baghdad, they threw all the books of Muslims in the sea. When the British heard that, they immediately sent their ships and took all the books of with them. The Quran has survived because of all the hafiz-a-Qurans, if it weren’t for them we would have lost the Quran as well, BUT we were lucky to only loose the translations and not the real book”

Khan Lala looked again for approval from his audience and it came in waves.

“That is why we have become their slaves” finished a saddened Khan Lala.

“Astaghfirullah! Lala jee, What are you saying?” asked Khan Lala’s younger brother Younis Khan

“Allah has put everything in this world to serve the Muslims,” he explained “These Kafirs are serving us by inventing things.”

With questioning gazes from every side, Younis continued his sermon.

“We are destined to rule these Kafirs, the Kafirs in turn are destined to serve us. The Kafirs are doing their duty by inventing new things to facilitate the life of the Muslim. But it’s the Muslim who has overlooked his duty to conquer the Kafir and impose Sharia in this world.”

He stopped for a breath and then continued “So you are right when you say that we Muslims are bayghairats but we are definetly not their slaves, compare our society with theirs look at their and then at ours, in no way can we be considered their slaves.”

“That is so true” added Darya Khan “Their level of morality is that of animals, they have no haya in them.”

One of Khan Lala’s oldest friends Gulzar Shah had always been intrigued by the west, especially their sexual freedoms. He pounced on this opportunity and said “Well Darya Khana, how about telling us a garma garam qissa (story) from America.”

The whole gathering broke into a loud laugh at the lewd tone in Gulzar’s voice.

“Well” said a blushing Darya Khan “The building in which I lived had two who were married to each other.”

There was a moment’s pause and then the whole crowd broke into another loud laugh.

Darya Khan repeatedly said qasams of every sort but to no avail.

“Well you didn’t have to make a qissa up” said Gulzar Shah wiping tears from his eyes. “All you had to do was to say that you didn’t have a qissa.”

“How can be married to each other?” asked a bewildered and highly amused Khan Lala.

“I swear they were married they even had a daughter” replied an exasperated Darya Khan

The crowd broke into an even louder laugh.

Suddenly Khan Lala realized that there were outsiders in the gathering who were laughing at his cousin’s expense.

gave way to honour as Khan Lala cleared his throat and looked at everyone with a solemn gaze. The laughing stopped immediately.

A flustered Darya Khan continued, “Well their have had enough of their men, they have had so much sex with men that men can not satisfy them anymore.”

This point made sense and the audience became more attentive.

“So that’s why” continued Darya Khan “Their have started to lust after their while their men are going after each other”

With this analogy everything became clear. As a loud Ah! Of epiphany was followed by a *tut tut* of disappointment, which was in fact concealing extreme inquisitiveness.

Darya Khan avenged his earlier humiliation by ending his story and staring at the ground. He knew that they wanted to know more but he wanted to be asked for it.

“I still don’t get one thing” asked a confused Gulzar Shah “How did they conceive a daughter?”

“Well” said Darya Khan “One of the got divorced from her husband and brought her daughter along with her.”

“That bayghairat let her have his daughter!?!??” asked a disgusted Khan Lala.

“Yes,” replied Darya Khan ”A husband cant do anything there, if you even lay a hand on your wife they would put you in jail”

“HUH!” came a unified statement of shock from everyone

“What INJUSTICE!” exclaimed Khan Lala

“Heh, and then they call them selves civilized and modern” sighed a gloating Younis Khan “Is this modernity? If a man can’t discipline his wife then he is definitely not a man.”

“You know, they say that if didn’t have noses, they wouldn’t mind eating cow dung” added a thoughtful Gulzar Shah.

“Woman is a fitnah” said Khan Lala in a profound manner “If you don’t give her a regular thrashing now and then, she will ruin your life.”

“Their daughter was a slut as well” said Darya Khan with gritted teeth “I caught her hugging my son.”

“Oh Kherrr” came a cheer from everyone “Mashallah! Yasir Khan has grown as well”

Darya Khan laughed with them and for the first time he saw that whole incident in a different light.

“Actually this is why I left that country; it is no place to bring up a daughter.” said Darya Khan, but he regretted saying it as soon as he had said it, because to mention his own daughter in a discussion of this sort was a big bayghairati.

Younis Khan came to the rescue of his cousin and said,”No! tell us about Yasir was this the only girl he ensnared?”

Everyone laughed out loudly at the innocent image of Yasir making out with American sluts of his own age.

“So how is he now?” asked a concerned Khan Lala “I have heard that he doesn’t like guns?!?!”

“Ha Ha” went a sheepish Darya Khan, “Actually the schools there teach them that guns are bad and stuff. He will get over it.”

“You have to make sure that he does” said Khan Lala “What is a man without a gun eh?”

He looked around at the approving nods and the instinctive curling of the moustaches.

“Hey!!, Did ever you give him those Polio drops?” asked Younis Khan in a concerned tone
“Errr Yes…” replied Darya Khan
“Na KANA!! (Oh damn!)” came a united reply.

“These polio drops are given to make our male impotent, it is a Jewish conspiracy.” Blurted Younis Khan.
Thus explaining Yasir’s aversion towards guns.

Khan Lala glared at his younger brother.

“Those drops are for only, the Jews wont give it to American .” said Khan Lala ”Besides, he is more horny than everyone in this village, look at what he did to the girl with two mothers and no father.”

Everyone broke into another loud laugh.

The servants served black tea along with the traditional Pathan sweets, these were the famous brown mithai from Rajar, as well as the heavy “Pairay” from Mardan. Darya loved both of these and told Khan Lala how he had missed them.

Darya Khan loved talking about Jewish Conspiracies a habit from his good old days, and Younis Khan was the village’s expert on it. So it wasn’t long before the discussion again focused on the latest Zionist conspiracies.

“So, is it true that the Jews are making our impotent?” asked a concerned Darya Khan.

“The Jews you see are the worst people on this planet” replied Younis “They just want to kill all the Muslims.”

“These mobile phones are invented by Jews” interjected Khan Lala “Ask me why?”
“WHY?” asked a confused Gulzar Shah as he reached for his own mobile phone.
“To bring into our mosques!!” exclaimed Khan Lala
“OH!” came a unified reply as Gulzar Shah clutched his beard

“Well don’t worry” said Younis Khan “You can replace the with an Azan.”

“Astaghfirullah! Even that is a Jewish conspiracy” said a beaming Khan Lala as he sipped his tea,“Ask me how?”

“HOW?” asked a bewildered Gulzar Shah as he tugged on his beard

“What if I call you in the middle of the night? What nimaz will you say after Isha? Haan? Answer me?” asked a defiant Khan Lala ”I shot my mobile as soon as I heard about these things. May Allah forgive me for all the calls I have attended. Ameen.”

“Well”, said Gulzar Shah “There is a vibrator option as well….”

“That is specifically for Punjabi Dal Khores” said a giggling Khan Lala “What if I call you in the middle of a nimaz, everyone in the mosque will think that you have farted.”

Everyone older than Gulzar Shah laughed at this joke, while the younger ones tried their best to stifle their laughter.

With all eyes on Gulzar Shah, he knew exactly what to do. He gave his beloved Nokia to one of Khan Lala’s gunmen, and watched as it was smashed into pieces with the butt of a halaal AK-47.

“So” said Khan Lala as he turned towards Darya Khan “Darya Khana! Will any one do something like that in the land of the Kafirs?”

Darya Khan felt so proud to be part of such a gathering, of such a society that would give anything in the name of tradition and . He smiled contentedly at everyone.

“I heard you were moving to Peshawar?” asked Younis Khan
“Yes, I am looking for a house there” replied a smiling Darya Khan.

“WHAT?!?” asked Khan Lala “Whats in Peshawar?”
“Well *gulp*” said Darya Khan “Yasir has to start school again”
“School?” exclaimed Khan Lala “English Medium School??!?”

“Well…. Yes” replied Darya Khan
“Why, did you come back from America then?” asked Khan Lala in a sarcastic tone

Darya gaped like a fish, as he didn’t know what to say.

“Peshawar is not the city that you knew.” said Khan Lala in a much softer tone as he placed his hand on Darya Khan’s shoulder. “It has become a center for all sorts of sexual activities.”

“Just Imagine!! Pathan , PATHAN !!!, driving cars!!, walking around in a dupata!! GOING FOR SHOPPING!!!! Out in the bazaars!!! While their men wait for them in their cars. How different is that from the Americans? Haan? Tell me?” Khan Lala was getting worked up and everyone had to listen intently.
“And its not only that, those filthy Persian speaking Kabulis UGH! Their stand on every corner waiting for a car to stop by. I am telling you Peshawar has become a hellhole, you don’t want to live in that sea of bay hayaee”

There was silence for a minute.

“But… I want him to… to get an .” stammered Darya Khan

“Offcourse! You do, but why teach him the of Quadianis, Jews and Ismailis? All of these English medium schools are built to turn our into Quadianis.” Khan Lala continued with a question “Tell me, do you want to go to Janat?”

“Yes offcourse I do” replied a bewildered Darya Khan

“Then turn him into a Hafiz-e-Quran, he will take you with him to Janat. Forget about this world; forget about these worldly jobs and this lust for material wants. Think about the streams of milk and honey, the furniture of gems and gold, the orchards of fruits, the HOORS and the GHILMANS. Forget about this world, you have enough for this world make your son a hafiz and you will have more than enough for the next world as well”

Khan Lala smiled contently as he saw the glint in Darya Khan’s eyes. He was sure that he would be one of the other people whom Yasir will take with him to Janat.

Darya Khan rushed home after dinner, this was a win win situation he thought. How na�ve was he to put his son into the same vile again. As Khan Lala had so eloquently said “Paatay duniya da” (this world is a temporary phase), Darya Khan hurried home to save himself and his son from the fires of hell.

Yasir was coloring a book that they gave him on the plane. He missed the days when he had so many interesting things to do, and most of all he missed his friends. The kids here were weird.

His mother Shireen was putting oil in her hair and smiling peacefully at her son, she cherished the fact that he didn’t like guns. She knew for sure that he was not going to end up like most young men in her village.

Suddenly the door opened and Darya Khan barged in, Shireen reached for her dupata while Yasir sat up straight.

Darya Khan snatched the coloring book out of Yasir’s hands and tore it into pieces.

“You are not going to read this filth AGAIN, UNDERSTAND?” He screamed.
“Yes… Baba!” answered a confused Yasir.
Shireen wanted to say something but she couldn’t.
Darya Khan turned towards Shireen, and said “Pack all his clothes he is going to school tomorrow.”

And so the very next day, Yasir was carted to a Madrassah near Peshawar. Darya met Yasir’s future teacher. The Molana sahib had a long grey beard, he smiled at Darya but glared at Yasir. With no paperwork Yasir was admitted into the madrassah.


Darya Khan had settled in his village, with his American money he bought some property in Peshawar and rented it out. His income made him the richest man in his village by far. Yasir came home every other weekend, Shireen was pregnant with Darya’s third child and five year old Nabeela had been “reserved” for Khan Lala’s 8 year old grandson. Life was pretty dull and the high point of Darya Khan’s day was his visit to the hujra of Khan Lala. He loved going through Urdu news papers and discussing the latest events with his jingoistic cousins.

When Darya Khan entered the hujra that day, Khan Lala was waving a newspaper in his hand. he showed him a photo and asked “Are these, those neighbors of yours? The two who got married?”

Darya Khan looked at the photo and laughed, it was an lesbian couple and the newspaper had printed the picture in color to show the level of of the society.

“No Khan lala” he replied, ”This is a couple from Europe, there is no shortage of bayghairat people in the west.”

“UFFF!!” exclaimed Khan Lala “If I become the King of America or England I will personally slaughter all of these people. Shukar Alahumdulillah we are not like them.”

Darya Khan laughed and glanced through other news items. One small headline caught his eye.

“RANGEEN MOLVI: Aik molvi apnay kum-sin shagird kay saath rung ruliyaan manata hua pakra gaya.” (A Molvi had been caught red handed frolicking with his underage student)

Next to the headline were the pictures of both the Molvi and his Student.

Darya Khan’s heart sank as the newspaper dropped out of his hands.

First published on Chowk.com on June 29 2006, under my pen name Adam Khan


Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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