Friday 16 March 2012

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall and looked gloomily down the road.

Humpty was not happy. In fact, he was so far from happy that people with mild depression crossed the road and turned their heads away in order not to become suicidal at the sight of him. He was so far from happy that condemned prisoners turned cartwheels and broke into joyous songs at how much better off they were than he. He was so unhappy that Mrs Humpty, unable to tolerate him any longer, had ordered him out of the house until he could cheer up enough not to turn the air blue.

"Don't you sit on the wall, either," she had shouted after him, loud enough for all the neighbours to hear. "One of these days you'll fall and break in half. Don't expect me to feel any sympathy for you."

Humpty grimaced, thinking of that. Falling off the wall would probably be the best thing that could happen to him.

Humpty’s problems were many and, to all appearances, insoluble. He was in hock up to the crown of his hairless head, and had no prospect of paying off the debt. He’d been laid off at work because his company had been taken over, and he had no savings left. A stock scam had taken almost all of his investments, and his last attempt at getting hold of money from somewhere had collapsed without anything to show for his efforts.

Even lookswise he had nothing going for him. As bald as he was pale, as fat as he was clumsy, he had absolutely no charm, no charisma, nothing. Hell, kids yelled at him in the street, shouting that they'd make him into an omelette. People wondered why his beautiful wife still stuck with him. Even Humpty wondered, sometimes. But she was a high-maintenance woman, and he hadn’t been able to provide much maintenance recently. So losing her was becoming a more distinct possibility by the day.   

Humpty had just one last hope, and, sitting on the wall, he was thinking about it. It was a desperate shot, but he had to try.

Far down the long white road into town, he saw a pall of dust. It was the sign he’d been waiting for. He’d have to move fast.

Inching forwards until he was balanced precariously on the edge of the wall, he leaned forward to ensure that it was the people he’d been looking for.

What happened next was perhaps inevitable.


The King’s Cavalry Corps had been on a training ride, and now they were on their way home.

They rode easily in their saddles, tall men in dust-streaked blue and red ceremonial uniforms, plumed metal helmets on their heads and sabres at their waists. Coming round a bend, they drew their horses to a sudden stop, gasping with involuntary horror.

A mangled body lay in the middle of the road. Shattered white shards mixed with gelid material, in a scene of horror so great that even the hardened cavalry troopers were shocked to the core.

They tried, though. Gathering around, they did their best to put life back into that poor ruined shell. Even the horses, poking around with their sensitive noses, tried – but it was far too late.  

And as they straightened from their labours, there was a sudden wail. Mrs Dumpty stood with her hands over her mouth, eyes wide open, staring at what lay on the ground, and shrieking.


Well,” said Humpty, “how do you like the seaside?”

“Very much, so far.” Mrs Dumpty sipped at her daiquiri. “You know,” she said thoughtfully, “I never actually thought it would work.”

“Frankly,” her husband said, “neither did I when I first thought of it. But then I realised it might.” He stretched lazily. “I’m so glad I paid that last insurance policy premium, even though I could barely afford it.”

“Still,” his wife said, “you took a real risk. If they’d caught on to the fraud...”

“There was never a chance of that.” Humpty smiled, with the happiness of one whose financial woes were taken care of virtue a massive insurance payment. “They could never have suspected that it wasn’t I lying on the road.”

“Why not?” asked Mrs Dumpty, frowning. “I never could understand why you were so sure about that.”

“Elementary, my dear,” Humpty said. “There is, you know, an advantage in being precisely as bald and obese as an egg.”

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Abort! Abort! Abort! Or, why the "pro-lifers" are wrong

Good morning, all you good, moral anti-abortionist “pro-life” people. How are you today? Fuming? 

I've got some good news for you. Just sit down and listen. No, don't hit me over the head yet there's plenty of time for that. For the moment, just listen.

You ought to realise something – you’re on the wrong track. You should actually be promoting abortion, and screaming its virtues to the skies. It’s in your own best interests, nobody else’s.

What's that? You want to know why? I'll tell you why.

First, I appreciate that you don’t exactly like people like me; you know, left-wing libtards and atheistic scum who hate your freedoms, support terrorists and promote abortion (I’d happily call it unborn-child-murder if you want but that’s kind of unwieldy to write each time, so I’ll call it “abortion” and you can read it as whatever you want. Deal?).

OK, now, you know that argument you have against us pro-abortion scum, the one which would have been infallible if we hadn't simply laughed at it: "What if your parents had aborted you?" Well, say it again, out loud: "What if your parents, you pinko Islamofascist libtard, had aborted you? What if your parents had aborted all of you?"

Well, then, we wouldn’t be here trying to stop you from enjoying your freedoms – would we now?

See here, as you’re well aware, nobody is actually forcing abortions on your wives and daughters, right? You aren’t at risk in any way. So let us pinko libtards abort our future generations all we want. If those kids get born, they’re – seeing who their parents are – going to grow up to be another lot of libtard pinkos, right, another lot of lazy welfare cheats, peaceniks and suchlike vermin? And the fewer of them there are, the better for you, isn’t it?

And it gets even better for those of you who say abortion is a religious, not a merely moral, sin – the more abortion there is, the better for you. You’ll all go righteously to heaven while the rest of us, the insufficiently religious or atheist libtards, the abortionists and their clients, will all roast in hell. Can you imagine how awesome it will feel for you, sitting on a cloud (or pleasuring virgins) while we burn in eternal hellfire? You won't have to share the hereafter with us. See how good it can get?

There you are. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Game, set and match. You win, we lose.

So let a thousand abortion clinics bloom.

Courtesy Doonesbury.Click on the image to enlarge

Thursday 15 March 2012

It's a Kony Game

Somewhere in the scrub forests of East-Central Africa is a man so evil that he is the epitome of all that is wrong with the Universe, a man so utterly vile that tracking him down and bringing him to justice is a Holy Crusade, one that should involve children from around the world.

It’s a Children’s Crusade, too, because this monster is allegedly a uniquely savage predator of children, pulling them away from their families to conscript them into his savage personal army; thousands and thousands of them. This monster must be stopped.

And there is just one force which can stop him.

If you think this sounds like the plot of a hackneyed Hollywood action movie, you wouldn’t be wrong.

For anyone who hasn’t cottoned on yet, I’m talking of the Internet’s latest involuntary star, the Ugandan war criminal and militia leader Joseph Kony. He’s the star of an internet campaign by an “activist group” called Invisible Children, who have made a video which went viral on YouTube and gathered many million views. If it were a Hollywood film, it would be called a terrific hit.

In fact, in many ways, it was like a Hollywood film, carefully constructed to elicit an emotional response with a minimum of thought involved. In fact, the very slickness of the video, its obvious attempt to make the viewer think as the makers want them to think, immediately aroused resistance and suspicion. Making things even more Hollywoodish was the involvement of “activists” like Angelina Jolie, who claimed “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t hate Kony”.

Really, lady? You don’t know anyone who doesn’t hate Kony? Try any of the more than 99% of the planet’s population who have never heard of him.

Just who might Joseph Kony be, anyway?

Born in Northern Uganda, Joseph Kony was a onetime altar boy who later came to command a militia called the Lord’s Resistance Army. This militia itself grew out of something called the Holy Spirit Movement, a messianic Christian cult of the Acholi people, which tried to oppose the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museweni. Here is an excellent account of the LRA's origins.

Now, Mr Kony is not, actually, a nice person. Let’s be very clear about this; Mr Kony is a very nasty person, and his Lord’s Resistance Army is by all accounts an extremely nasty militia. Over the last three decades and a bit, it’s murdered many people, kidnapped many more (estimated at thirty thousand, if you believe the reports) to make some of them into child soldiers and sex slaves, and mutilated a not inconsiderable number. You’d say that his reputation as a villain has some justification, and the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museweni the Chosen One who’s supposed to defeat Kony and bring him to justice, is the right man for the job.

The problems with that are, actually, many.

In the first place, Kony isn’t the Ultimate Evil he’s painted to be. In fact, he’s not even a particularly repulsive warlord by Central African standards, and probably no worse than Museweni himself, whose own depredations were the reason the Acholi people rebelled in the first place. Museweni, a close ally of the Empire, is a man who’s up to his neck in war crimes himself, and is one of the worst culprits of the civil war in Congo – along with his erstwhile ally and protégé, the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame.

While Kony’s LRA of course did use child soldiers, that’s an extremely common occurrence in sub-Saharan Africa, and quite logical when you think of it. Children, actually, make superb soldiers. They obey orders utterly without question, they have no intrinsic moral compass, and they lack a sense of self-preservation. They can be utterly and fearlessly brutal without even knowing the implications of what they’re doing. They are smaller than adult soldiers, require less food and facilities, and can be kept going with drugs like amphetamines as long as required. And in an overpopulated and impoverished part of the world, when they die, they can be replaced easily and cheaply. Armies all over sub-Saharan Africa have used child soldiers to fight their battles.

And if that sounds strange, it’s because when most people hear the word “army”, they think of a force with a centralised command structure with soldiers commanded by, and under the control of, a central authority. But most African militaries aren’t like that. They may wear uniforms and carry modern weapons, but in most respects they have more in common with their militia opponents than with an army in other parts of the world. Their generals act more in the way of warlords than officers of a military hierarchy. These generals fight wars for personal profit as much as for political or nationalistic reasons. Museweni is as guilty of fighting such wars as Kony, and is guilty of far more deaths.

And this is the Saviour the people behind Invisible Children want to aid to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Actually, there are far more things that are wrong with that idea. For one thing, Invisible Children claims that they are not “overlooking” the crimes of the Ugandan Army, and yet are passionately pushing for arming that same Ugandan Army. This strange dichotomy gets even worse when one realises that the Empire has sent a hundred Special Forces to “train” Museweni’s army and pursue Kony, wherever he may be, and that one of Invisible Children’s prime aims is to ensure that those Special Forces stay where they are.

This is strange on several levels. First of all, though the Lord’s Resistance Army originated in northern Uganda, it has not been there for years and as far as is known is now over a thousand kilometres away. This is something the people at Invisible Children themselves admit – but nobody who watches their Kony video will come away having learned that little fact. The northern Ugandans themselves are severely resentful of the video’s implication that they are still at the mercy of the LRA; they have long since moved on with their lives and they want to be left alone to move on with their lives.

I said that the LRA was nowhere near northern Uganda. It’s also no longer the force it once was; at the best estimates it only has a couple of hundred fighters left and is on its last legs as an organisation. It’s hardly the source of ultimate, child-eating evil that Invisible Children claims it to be.

And as for the monster Kony himself? There’s something very interesting about him, which I’ll discuss in a moment. For now, let’s say that there are probably more pressing problems in Africa, and the world at large, than bringing Joseph Kony to book.

So why, exactly, is Invisible Children suddenly jumping on this bandwagon at this present time?

In order to understand that, it’s necessary to discuss just who Invisible Children are. The group’s finances are rather murky, to say the least; it doesn’t even have a good transparency rating, and it apparently had a big infusion of cash from some unknown source at about the same time those hundred Special Forces turned up in Uganda to train its army to capture or kill Kony. It has been accused of various malfeasances, and its members have been photographed holding guns and posing with members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. In other words, the group which wants the world to unite against one militia has no problems with hobnobbing with members of another militia.

Now, it’s not unknown that the Empire is trying to expand into Africa in a big way; Africa is ripe for economic neo-colonialism, stuffed with unexploited resources including, in the case of Uganda, the magical word: oil. As those of us with some analytical ability know, denying the “other side” control over oil is as much a part of geopolitics these days as controlling it oneself is. It does seem somewhat strangely opportune, then, that Invisible Children should suddenly set up a video demanding that the Empire’s soldiers remain in place to ensure Kony should be brought to book – and that in a place where he is not, and has not been for many years.

It seems even more strangely opportune that nobody, outside presumably his own militia members, has actually seen Mr Kony for years, and there is a strong and persistent rumour that he died some five years ago. If he is actually dead, in fact, that would make him the perfect villain; he can never be found, never brought to book, but must always be flitting around in the shadows of our consciousness, like a real life Hannibal Lecter with an army to back him up. The facts don’t matter – it’s the perception which does.

And this, I believe, is the actual plan behind the much-derided Twitter and blogtivist campaign launched by Invisible Children and its celebrity backers like la Jolie. Not even the most deluded individual will believe that tweeting STOPKONY is going to bring the monster to book. Nor will keeping soldiers where the man manifestly isn’t, do anything to make him answer for his crimes. But the perception of the danger from Kony, and the necessity for protecting children – that is what it will take for people of the liberal persuasion to promote, quite unthinkingly, a military presence in a part of the world where there was no military presence at all.

Make no mistake – the target of the Kony video and Invisible Children is the so-called “liberal” section of the populace. These “liberals” are extremely dangerous people because they can be easily brainwashed into doing precisely the wrong things by some clever propaganda. They – far more than the conservatives – are the ones pressing for an invasion of Syria. They are the ones who cheered the aggression against Libya and now look the other way while brutal Al Qaeda-affiliated militias terrorise that nation. They are the ones who support “humanitarian war” and can’t understand the oxymoron in the term. It’s no surprise that the Kony video has the blessings of Hollywood celebrities like Jolie; with its faux reputation for liberalism, Hollywood would never have got the support of conservatives anyway.

Even the paternalism of the White Man’s Burden, implicit in the idea that the “enlightened West” in the form of the soldiers Angelina Jolie and her peers want to go and hunt down Kony, is perfectly in sync with this kind of unthinking “liberalism”. A conservative would have turned away in disgust and left the "savage" Africans to fight it out; it’s the “liberal” who will push for troops to be sent and save those poor benighted lesser breeds without the law from themselves.

This faux “liberalism”, too, is the reason why children are the focus of the video, though the LRA has been accused of lots of atrocities towards adults. It’s because people react on an emotional level to children. Very few are realistic enough to see through propaganda using children as the USP, and even if they do, even fewer are bold enough to stick their necks out to expose that propaganda and be called cynical monsters. (That’s why anti-Syria propaganda sites like Paola Pisi's Uruk Net keep repeating the claim that the Syrian government are “child-torturers”, or why anti-abortionists keep calling foetuses “unborn children”; it’s emotional blackmail.) The image of a doe-eyed, tearful kid affects most of us on a subconscious level, because protecting kids is something hardwired into the majority of us. We react viscerally to it; we have no choice. And the propagandists know that.

And Invisible Children’s plans are not just confined to Uganda, either. In 2009, Obama signed something called the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. Passed, in true Obama fashion, without Congressional approval, it

allows the US to deploy military forces in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan (at the consent of those nations) in pursuit of LRA rebels. [Source]

Remember South Sudan? That newly free, impoverished nation with border problems with Sudan to the north, with its own rebels, and with all that lovely, lovely oil? How about Congo, which has been ripped by year after year of horrible civil war, but which has its own riches under the soil? Now, with a manhunt seeking an invisible, incredibly malicious figure who may not even exist any longer and so cannot possibly be brought to justice, any nation which refuses to throw its territory open to forces “pursuing” him risks being seen as allying itself with him, and therefore part of this new Axis of Utterly Depraved Child-Killing Evil. Even assuming Kony is alive, he, in fact, cannot be tracked down until and unless he outlives his utility and a new and even more menacing enemy can be substituted.

On another level, there are critics who claim that Invisible Children is a scam. Of course, it is a scam, with Kony T shirts being sold and schoolchildren being asked to make donations for the Cause. But that’s merely small potatoes compared to the actual profits to be made from facilitating the occupation; so why is it being done at all? Isn’t it counterproductive?

I believe it’s being done quite deliberately, to provide a smokescreen; in order that those who see through Invisible Children’s tissue of lies and fabrications will come up against the scam and be content in thinking it’s just a con game, and not delve any deeper. And while everyone’s attention is focussed on the spectre of Kony, the real agenda will play itself out on the ground. It is a scam, and on more than one level.

It’s up to us to spread the word, far and wide, and make sure it does not succeed.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

The Spider

The Spider sat in the centre of his Web, waiting.

From his hideout under the Andes, lines went out to all parts of the world, spreading his Web’s invisible filaments. Some of them trailed in the depths of the sea, tasting the currents for the movements of submarines and drilling rigs. Others drifted high in the air, keeping tabs on commercial flights and fighter jets, or even higher, to the fringe of space. Yet others spread through the continents, touching the hovel and the mansion, keeping tabs on the investment banker and the inner city drug pusher.

The Spider’s senses were everywhere. Literally nothing could escape his attention, from satellites in low-earth orbits to narcoterrorist coca plantations in Central America. He knew the location of Nazi gold in Swiss bank vaults, and the exact amounts transferred by the hawala system by shipowners as ransom to Somali pirates. He knew it all.

And he taxed it all. The Spider was not stupid; he didn’t even risk harming a tail feather of the goose that kept laying golden eggs. He only levied a small, a tiny tax – so tiny they wouldn’t even feel it – but half a per cent here and two percent there added up, and paid the bills.

And the Spider had many bills. Deep in his hideout under the mountains of South America, wrapped in kilometres of rock and titanium, he had to keep warm and comfortable. He needed fresh air, too, and water, and he had to have food delivered daily, to satisfy his by no means frugal appetite. And there were the expenses to keep his crime empire going – the Web to keep in repair, the rent on his various offices, and all the salaries and insurance premiums to pay. The Spider was very generous with his salaries. Good help was hard to come by, and when you got some competent hirelings, whether hoodlums or accountants, you didn’t want them defecting to some low-grade small-time crooks like the Mafia, for example.

Despite the bills, the Spider’s wealth was incalculable. He himself had long since abandoned all attempts to compute it. Only a tiny fraction of it was public, open to his army of accountants, banked in ultra-secret numbered deposits, or put to legitimate business use under names such as the Rogerio Corporation. The rest sloshed around, uneasily, until the Spider found a use for it. Finding a use, generally, did not take a long time, but only the Spider himself knew what he did with that money.

Nobody, of course, had ever seen the Spider. They thought of him almost with mystical awe, as if he was thirty stories tall and had five heads. None of them knew anything about him at all, and filled in the gaps of knowledge with imagination.

The Spider’s personal office was almost entirely a communications suite.  From his desk, ultra-thin fibres radiated to all corners of the world, bringing him information from everywhere. Other fibres conveyed orders to minions around the globe. None of the threads was ever still, for the Spider never slept.

Meanwhile, the Spider’s infamy was spreading, slowly but surely, around the planet. Most who heard of him did not believe in his existence, and thought it mere fiction, not even good fiction. Some even thought him the invention of the female arch-terrorist group, known as Alka Ida after its two founders. But one man – one man did not disbelieve.

His name was Inspector Mahakotwal, and he was determined to bring the Spider to justice. Patiently, year after year, he sat in his office and gathered information about the nefarious crime boss. At first he drew a total blank, and if he had been made of less stern stuff might well have given up. But he was not a distant descendant of the great Hercule Holmes for nothing. So, with the tenacity of the British Bulldog, he followed up leads and rumours, interrogated suspects, and over time the shell of secrecy began to crack. Mahakotwal sniffed after the Spider like a bloodhound. He tracked him down, plot by plot, money trail by money trail, informant by informant, until he knew where to strike.

Then he collated all the information and went to his superiors. And there, he ran into a brick wall.

“Nonsense!” snapped his boss, Superintendent Daniel Outing-Thomas. “The Spider doesn’t exist. He’s a fantasy, a chimera.”

“He exists,” Inspector Mahakotwal insisted. “Just look at the evidence, sir. I’ve got it all in these 123 files, 456 CDs and 789 flash drives, right here. I even know how to attack his organisation and break it into pieces.”

“What organisation?” D Outing-Thomas snapped.”There’s no such thing.”

“It exists,” the Inspector insisted. “It’s called the Web. I’ve got all the proof, right here.”

“All right,” Superintendent Outing-Thomas said. “Show me. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

So the Inspector and his boss pored over the files and perused the contents of the flash drive for forty days and thirty-nine nights (they took one night off; Bang Bang Lulu the queen of the strip show was in town), until all the data contained therein had been examined. And at last the older officer sat back and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“My boy,” he said, “this is remarkable. Go forth with my blessings, apprehend the dastardly criminal mastermind, and consign him to durance vile.”

“Thank you, sir.” So saying, the brave Inspector strode out of his office to gather his team together; men of blood and iron, honest as the day was long.

And so, over the months that followed, they pried apart the Spider’s crime network, step by excruciating step, and little by little, they tracked him down to his lair.

One spring morning, then, the Inspector stood in front of an Andean cliff and pried a boulder out of the ground. It need hardly be explained that he was alone. After all this hard work, he had no intention of sharing the glory of the capture with anyone.

As he’d expected, inside was a panel with buttons and an LED screen. Quickly, he tapped out the secret code he’d waterboarded out of a suspect mere hours ago, and a section of the cliff slid away to reveal a flight of steps, heading down.

Standing at the top of that flight of steps, staring at the Inspector with all his eyes, was the Spider.

“Welcome, Inspector,” he said, his fanged mandibles moving. “I have been expecting you.”

The Inspector was a tough man, a hard man, not a man to trifle with. Even so, the shock made him lose his voice for a little while. His jaw hanging helplessly, he goggled at the Spider helplessly

“Confess,” said the Spider, chuckling. “You’re surprised that I was expecting you. But, my dear sir, you knew that my Web spreads everywhere. A filament was in your office from the beginning.”

“Grooh,” the Inspector said. “Gah!”

If the Spider had had eyebrows, he might have raised them. “Oh, I see,” he murmured. “You’re surprised to find me an actual spider.” He paused, cocking his cephalothorax in thought. “A giant actual spider,” he amended. “But what else did you expect?”

The Inspector finally recovered his voice. “’re under arrest!” he said.

The Spider laughed so hard that he shook. “And what are you going to do – handcuff me? He stuck one of his legs forward. “Go ahead and try.”

The Inspector thought better of it and returned the cuffs to his belt. “Will you come along to jail with me?” he asked.

“No,” the Spider said pleasantly. “Why should I? I’m much more comfortable down in my nice silk-lined office.”

“Because you’re a criminal,” the Inspector wailed. “And my job is to hunt down criminals!”

The Spider laughed again. “Then you’d better begin by arresting Outing-Thomas. He’s been in my pay for many years.” He paused to let that information sink in. “Didn’t you think to ask just why I allowed you to track me down when I was in on it from the beginning?”

“Uh,” the Inspector said, “no. No, I hadn’t thought of it.”

“Well,” said the Spider with gusto, “Outing-Thomas is a moron. I need a really competent man, someone I can absolutely depend on. As soon as you began working your way through the network, I knew you were that man.”

“And,” the Inspector said, “I’ve destroyed your network, and I’ve found you, so it was for nothing.”

“Oh, come. Do you really think I’m that stupid? I showed you only a tiny fraction of my organisation, my friend. Entirely expendable, I assure you. Besides, almost all of them are already out on the streets again. Some of the judges are in my pocket, you see. Of course,” he added, “I’m not wearing any pockets.”

“I,” said the Inspector, “will not work for ill-gotten gains.”

“Better and better. Do you know where the money you’re paid comes from? My income is cleaner than that.”

“Is it?” The Inspector snorted. “Where does all your net profit go? I couldn’t find a trace of it!”

“You know,” the Spider said, “the world is a pretty terrible place these days. All those wars. All those displaced children. All those orphans. Someone has to take care of them, and pay for orphanages, and so on. Mind you, I’m not saying I do any of those things.”

“I’m sorry,” the Inspector said. “But I’m not corrupt, and I will never be corrupt.”

“Oh well,” the Spider said equably. “It was worth a try. All right, then, you can go, as long as you don’t come back.”

“And if I come back?”

“I wouldn’t advise that,” said the Spider. “I really wouldn’t.”

The Inspector gulped again. “Suppose,” he said, “I come with my men to arrest you. Then what?”

The Spider lifted his mandibles in a smile. “My lady friend,” he said, gesturing with a foreleg, “might have some objection to that.”

Slowly, the Inspector turned, and looked. He had to tilt his head back up to look. He had forgotten that, in spiders, the female is much, much larger than the male.

“I love the taste of fresh policeman,” said the lady, and moved in for the kill.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Monday 12 March 2012

Absolutely True Alien Abduction Story

The night he decided to get abducted by aliens, Roger was just drunk enough to decide it might work.

Roger had been wondering how to become famous. All his plans to become well-known had failed. He’d tried to be a famous sportsperson, but they didn’t have a World Paintball Championship, and when he tried to play rugby he got trampled under by fifteen hundred-kilogram Afrikaners. Then he decided to become a famous movie star. One audition later, and that was out. They didn’t make him a romantic lead. They refused to cast him even as a mook, because he didn’t look villainous enough.

Then someone suggested he tried music. So on karaoke night at the local bar, he did his best to set the joint on fire. It very nearly did set the joint on fire, because the stampede of people trying to get away overturned a decorative candelabrum by the door and seared the curtains.

Then he tried politics. He stood for election to the local council, and gathered a grand total of three votes, including his own. He never did find out who the other two voters were.

After that he thought of becoming a famous serial killer, but that had an obvious disadvantage: in order to be successful, he had to keep his identity secret. Besides, he was allergic to blood, even his own cuts and nicks while shaving made him want to faint.

But he wanted to be famous. As he gazed into the depths of a bottle of mescal, the caterpillar’s corpse inside gazing back at him, he cogitated on the problem. The caterpillar, rotating slowly, looked rather like an alien, he thought. An alien from the Andromeda Galaxy.

And that’s when the Idea struck him.

“I’ve got to be abducted by aliens,” he muttered, a wild gleam in his eye. “That’s the ticket, that is!”

“What are you talking about?” His drinking companion looked up at him, befuddled. “What alien?”

“You just drink up,” Roger told him. “I’ll be back...sometime.”

Now, he thought, stumbling outside, just how did one get abducted by an alien?

The first thing he needed was night. No self-respecting alien would ever appear during the day. Well, it was night, and a dark, moonless night, too; good for aliens.

Then, he had to be on a lonely country road. It wasn’t a lonely country road, but that could be fixed with a little driving, as long as he managed not to draw the attention of cops with breathalysers. So, folding himself behind the wheel of his car, he drove off with exaggerated care down the exact centre of the street. The gods were kind, and nobody got rammed or killed.

Half an hour later, the houses around disappeared. All around now stretched the arid plain of the Great Karoo, dotted only with scrub. Roger slowed down until his car was barely moving, and waited for the aliens to come.

And then they came, right on schedule, bright lights hovering over the road, revolving orbs of blue and green and yellow. The lights settled down on the road ahead of the car, and a ramp came sliding down.

Roger stopped the car and got out. He felt no fear, and no surprise. He’d wanted to be abducted. He’d gone out of his way to be abducted. The aliens were merely doing their duty.

The first alien emerged. It did not look like a little grey man with a huge egg-shaped head and gigantic black eyes. It came out of the flying saucer and came out and came out and came out.

Roger jumped back a couple of steps when all the ten metres of creamy white caterpillar-flesh came crawling down the ramp, and a couple more steps when the alien reared up into the sky and stared down at him from a pair of compound eyes like shields.

“Well, earthling,” it said, in a heavy Mexican accent, “let’s go.”

“Go where?” Roger managed, gulping.

“Why, to be abducted, of course,” the alien said, sounding surprised. “Isn’t that what you want?”

“Well, um, yes,” Roger said. “Actually, I want to become famous.”

“Oh, you’ll be that, all right,” the alien promised, grasping Roger by the shoulder and pulling him up the ramp. “We’ll probe you and process you, and then drown you in a nice bottle of alcohol. Human in alcohol is a prized drink amongst us. And you – you’ll be served up at the banquet in honour of the Galactic President himself. There’s no higher honour.”

“But that’s not what I wanted!” Roger shouted. “That’s not what I wanted at all!”

“But you want to be famous, don’t you?” The alien sounded irritated. “What do you want us to do, make you a galactic ambassador or something?”

“Well,” Roger replied, “why don’t you, then?”

The alien stared at him, nonplussed. “You know,” it said at last, “I haven’t the faintest idea.”

And that is how His Excellency Roger the First became humanity’s envoy to the Galactic Empire. He’s famous and well-liked, but for one thing. He never attends the banquets.

The human in alcohol makes him want to puke.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

Mother Says

Mother says
Before going out, look at the sky
Because death on silver wings
May hover high above, waiting
And come down like a thousand
Angels of doom.
But it can happen even when you are at home.

Mother says
Stay away from weddings, and from funerals
Anywhere people gather, because
When people gather, that’s when
Bad things happen, like bombs from the air.
But how can I avoid them?
The funerals are everywhere.

Mother says
When gathering firewood on the hillside
When getting water from the well
When playing with your friends
Be careful, because to be out in the open, 
Even if you’re young, is dangerous
And punished by loss of life and limb.

Mother says
If they come in the night,
If they break down the door
And enter with dogs and guns,
Don’t look at them, and above all
Don’t scream or run.
Because if you do, bad things can happen.

Mother says
Your father is not with us, but it was not by choice.
He did not leave us deliberately alone.
He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time
And paid dearly for that mistake.
Called an enemy, he sleeps this night
Under the stony ground.

Mother says
Look at this picture, look at this girl
Hugging her father’s leg, staring tearfully
Out of the magazine page.
She doesn’t want her father to go away to war.
She doesn’t want her father to come
Across the world, to us, to our land.

Mother says
Look at this girl, blonde and young
On the other side of the world. Frightened, too.
You could have been friends,
Mother says, and though you are a world apart,
There is a little girl
Like you.

                                            Copyright B Purkayastha 2012

The Frame-up That Failed

Those of us in India who follow the left-wing independent media are familiar with John Cherian. One of a dying breed, the investigative journalist with a spine, he’s never been one to regurgitate dumbed-down pap fed by the “mainstream” media sources, be they the Indian government or the Western propaganda machine. In other words, he’s just the kind of person our venal so-called government, with its commitment to neoliberalism within and vassalhood to the Empire abroad, detests with a vengeance.

Cherian, for instance, was in Syria to see the situation for himself, and wrote articles like this one, exposing the “brave freedom fighters” for what they were, murderers who dropped the tortured corpses of Syrian soldiers into rivers, and clearly stating that the blame belonged to the Empire and its proxies. This is not the kind of thing which would make the usual suspects happy, not least when his visit to Syria gave the lie to the canard that the Syrian government doesn’t allow independent journalists into the country.

On his most recent trip to Syria, at the end of February, Cherian had been accompanied by Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, an Urdu journalist who was subsequently arrested for being “involved” in a bombing in New Delhi in which the wife of a so-called Zionazi “diplomat” was injured.  This bombing was blamed, quite predictably, by the Zionazis on Iran’s Quds force. Actually, the Iranians would have been quite remarkably stupid to have carried out any such bombing, because in one of its increasingly rare displays of spine, India has refused to be drawn into the anti-Iranian alliance of hate headed by the Empire, its European vassals, and the Zionazi pseudostate; India has even refused to stop buying Iranian oil, despite Imperial pressure.

The most likely, indeed almost certain, scenario is that the Delhi bombing was carried out by the Zionazis themselves in order to defame Iran; and, though it failed in that purpose, the aforesaid Kazmi was arrested and “tortured in custody” (according to his family, but torture in custody is standard operating procedure for police in India) to produce a “confession” that he was somehow involved in the bombing. And then, yesterday, 11th March, Cherian got a visit from the police at his apartment in Delhi.

They’d had, they said, a tip off that heroin had been kept inside his house and demanded to enter. Since they had no warrant, and since he’s not a fool, Cherian quite correctly refused to let them in. After some talk on their mobile phones, the police apologised and said they had the wrong apartment; they were told the heroin was in No 160 but had come to Cherian’s flat, No 107, “by mistake.” They then went to No 160, searched it, found nothing and left.

Incidentally, 107 is “ek sau saath” in Hindi – with a soft “th” as in think – while 160 is “ek sau saat”, with a hard “t” as in terrorist. Can anyone believe a police force would be so incompetent as to take one for the other without any corroboration? If someone had said an Al Qaeda man (or, this being India, a Maoist) was in the flat, would they have come in with automatic weapons blazing, and said afterwards, "Oops, we misheard"? Isn't it more likely that they made up a "plausible-sounding" story on the spur of the moment, without thinking it through?

Now, if Cherian had actually let them in, the chances are more than high that heroin would actually have been found in the flat – planted by the police themselves, of course. It’s a neat way of getting rid of a troublesome journalist. Even if they couldn’t convict him, they’d keep him so busy trying to clear his name (including hundreds of court appearances in India’s incredibly slow criminal justice system) that they’d effectively neutralise him. At least he’s well enough known not to be quietly murdered in custody and claimed to have “’committed suicide”, something that happens not infrequently.

Apparently, the police later apologised, without explanation as to how one number was mistaken for another and a raid made on the basis of an anonymous tip. But Cherian, it seems, is a marked man.

Knowing him, though, they won’t shut him up that way.