February 4, 2011

My landlord had a long conversation with me yesterday. A pathan from Waziristan he's a big-built man with a swarthy complexion and too-often-dyed jet black hair. He looks like he could be anywhere between 40 and 60, but since he (according to him) has grandchildren, my estimate would be towards the latter. Ever since I moved into this apartment, a year and some months ago, this landlord has been someone I regularly avoid, but have the office call whenever there is some sort of an issue. Mostly, because he seems to have a very active Godfather complex which is at times useful, at times unnerving and occasionally incredibly uncomfortable.

He came down yesterday to collect some paid utility bills (despite my offer of leaving them at the reception) and spent almost 20 minutes at my door telling me excerpts of his life story. He began by explaining why - some days ago - he had decided to engage in a volley of gunshots and break down the door of an apartment on the first floor because they were 'partying' right next to his house. When we witnessed the scene (being the morbidly curious type - as all Pakistani's tend to be - we ran up as as soon as we heart the gunshots to figure out what was happening) men tied to each other by the backs of their kameezes where being led out along with women in burkhas. According to landlord, he moved from Waziristan (and his farm, and his houses, and his animals, and his tribe) to move to Islamabad where his kids could have a safe environment in which to live. What, he argues, is the point of making such an expensive change (his children's education, he feels, is an unfortunately large expense) if we can't even expect a safe, secure environment for me and him to live free of prostitutes and debauchery?

I murmer an assent, and try to shut the door, but he launches into a narrative of what his village in Waziristan is like. Half of what he says is because he wants me (through the NGO I supposedly work for) to set up tube-wells in his village. Or more importantly, he wants the money to set up the tube-wells (and we all know what that means). When I tell him my organization has nothing to do with infrastructure, and instead is more into training and teaching (gross generalization, but what can one do) he says doesn't matter, why don't you help me set up a girls's school? Anyhow, so the narrative is somewhat garbled, and not very logically coherent (you can't use THAT much dye and expect your brain to escape intact, I feel), but somewhere in there he confesses that he used to own much land in Waziristan, but over the years some 20-something houses of his have been blown up. According to him half of the damage is done by the local tribesmen, and the other half by drone attacks. Without any encouragement he then goes on to tell me that the reason for this enmity (by both local and external forces) is because of the heavy ammunition he had stored up in there. Say's he, they kept asking him who he was buying weapons for, and whose side he was on. Apparently, they didn't believe him when he said he was going to support neither party, and both decided to screw him over.

Weapons, he says, are a part of life where he comes from, but more than that they're a necessity for him. His father, says he, was murdered when he was a young boy, barely old enough to have a beard (I'm not certain when Pathan's get their beards, but I'd plug this episode at around 15-16). I sympathize with people whose fathers are killed (naturally) and I murmured some sort of condolence which made him go on and tell me it's okay because he got even. Say's he, I was barely 16 when I walked into the market and took my revenge against two of the men suspected for my father's death. Say's he, they took one life - I took two. And then we were even. Except for some reason, the other tribe didn't think so. And THAT is why he had to stock up on oodles of weaponry of the latest kind, and not because he wanted to further any other agenda.

Changing the topic, he says to me: so, how can I apply to your NGO for funding?

Don't you worry Khan-Saheb, say I, a man of your obvious talents will undoubtedly attract lots of funding. I tell him that I'll pass his number on to my office, however I really don't have anything to do with field operations on the whole. Thank you very much for coming down to get these bills. I really appreciate all your efforts on my behalf. Despite your murderous past. Good-bye.

And then I shut the door.

9 comments:

Shhhh, it's a secret said...

*Best* *Post* *ever*. This is so ironic, I had a (very) watered down version of this w/ wierd landlord and Pathan cab driver in Manhattan.

Aneela Z said...

*gulp* well just dont be late with rent next month thats all. And ask him to "leave the gun and take the cannoli" emm kebab roll next time.

Shhhh, it's a secret said...

@ Aneela - [GONG]. Why don't you two start a late night news/slapstick talk show on public access television? Also tell me what you think of MY Pathan story.

Aneela Z said...

Well I did try leaving a comment on the Pathan driver post but the blog doesnt accept any comments.

Anonymous said...

ok, will try to adjust. Let's just use Xeb's blog as if it were facebook. Haha j/k.

Ali said...

No wonder, i love pathans ;)

JDèé said...

WTF, seriously? You gotta move.

Deepak Iyer said...

He might be a dual murderer but on the bright side, he's not hitting on you.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what is stopping you from moving? Oh, it's a great apartment for the price? Maybe that's why it's cheap...