|Illustration by Fahad Naveed|
Most semi-educated blockheads believe Darwin said we have evolved from monkeys. He didn’t. What he said was that we evolved from a lower form of life and going by the behaviour of our civil, military and mullah politicians, it can safely be deduced that monkeys can only be a higher form of life.
However, looking at Pakistani male drivers you know that they very likely come from a long, lowly line of rats and mice. Not even monkeys would drive like them! This is especially true if you are either a motorcyclist or a paid or underage driver (whose father is either a powerful politico or a bureaucrat). By the way, underage here means any man less than 70 years old, because here men never grow up — they just grow old.
If you’ve looked inside dark places infested by rats, you know how those creatures fidget and jostle, weaving around each other as they go about their business. And they can get into the tiniest of holes. Ditto for our drivers. Watch them trying to get ahead: their faces twitch, shoulders alternately hunch up and slump, head spins in every direction as they try to edge past every other road user. They can get into spaces you would not believe were big enough for a large tin trunk. And they fit a 4×4 SUV in such holes.
The feverish agitation has only one answer: Drivers have their pants full of fleas. I believe every driver has an old shoebox at home and one at his work place filled with those tiny black critters that you simply cannot crush with your fingers. When they are ready to go, drivers take a handful of the jumping meanies and stick them into their pants or shalwars. Then, they set off at breakneck speed holding a phone to their ear with one hand and with the other scrabbling away in their nether parts as the fleas bite them to death.
Since, by some unwritten law, the fleas must remain in the pants as long as the man is behind the wheel, drivers are forever in unholy haste to get wherever they have to get. No surprise then that every three-lane road has nine cars abreast, the drivers in a hurry to get out of their cars to remove their pet pests. The endless scratching and fidgeting leaves drivers so listless that they have no energy for work. This is particularly true for government employees.
And then there are moped riders and rickshaw drivers. As descendents of tiny, mouse-like beings, they can get their vehicles into spaces as narrow as a few inches and can even go under your car and come out on the other side none the worse for wear. Stop the one who scratches your bodywork and the standard response will be: “Tay ki hoya. Ik leek ee luggi a na.” (No big deal. It’s just a scratch.) Unsurprisingly, anyone answering your ‘car for sale’ ad will ask a standard first question: How many times has the car been repainted?
PS. My chum ZAN (name withheld to protect the guilty — he being guilty of passing on so many departmental howlers to me) is inspector with the traffic police of Lahore. He says no one, and that is no one, without exception pays heed to traffic rules. Upon being pulled over the standard procedure is to whip out their cell phones and call someone they had met at their local barbershop. ZAN says most of the time, it is only some police constable or peon from the police chief’s office.
On one occasion, with cell phone services cut to prevent crime, the offending driver attempted to call his constable friend. Failing, he turned to ZAN, ‘Aj jay service bund na hondi, tenu pata lug jana cee main kon aan!’ (If services were not out, you would have known who I am!)
Needless to say ZAN slapped him with the heaviest fine he could.