by -Shoeb Hamid
I am going to hang myself to the ceiling fan tonight, and perhaps this is the last shame I will have to bear in my miserable existence. But I am not entirely to be blamed for it, as you all have an equal share of accountability in this act of cowardice.
I was young, resourceful and filled with ideas when I started this journey to my own end. I had the grades, the piece of paper called degree which I thought was more valuable than that. I had learned some lessons at media school, not many but I had learned them well. People who taught me will vouch for it.
Once out of the school, I was neither a student nor a professional. I was simply a jobless youth who ought to have found a place, engagement not only for bread and butter but also to retain sanity and mental equilibrium.
At first it looked that I had everything in my possession to make a good living, a decent life, dignified one. Without money and the most sought invariable, recommendation, I knocked the first door, a small newspaper office. I was immediately taken in but never paid. I kept counting bylines and going around in the entire city on foot. There was nothing else to count. The newspaper was making money, may be less may be a lot, but I didn’t get any. I tried to find who was benefitting. That’s when I decided to leave, because the one who made a good bargain for my hard work didn’t even know what journalism is. That journalism the idea of which was deeply embedded in my mind for three years in college.
I wasn’t completely depressed as I had the paper cuttings with my stories and praise of some people for my work that comforted and kept me going.
Next I decided to knock the door of a bigger newspaper. I kept knocking at the door but no one seemed to hear. I imagine and it may be true that my CV might have been served as tea plate of some editor, uglier because of the cup bottom stains and less appealing in the words printed on it. I realized that the big ones didn’t take anybody who simply walks in.
So I went back to school, half-buried my ego and self esteem, and asked the teachers to help me out, to recommend me. I was amazed at the speed at which things could happen when approached differently. In ten minutes my appointment with a popular journalist was fixed.
With a new and pleasing sense of purpose I went to meet the person. It was more an interaction than an interview. But there were too many caveats. I was told first what not to do than what to do. I thought journalism was freedom, but I was wrong. Yes, it may be as long as it is in books, but in field, in industry it turned out to be more of a performance show.
After a while, on some occasions I felt like a hitman who was told whom to take down on a particular day, on others I felt like a pimp in some high office listening to the lies of the person standing before me. The office scared me, the authority with an unseen power and influence made me bend and kneel. I had lost all respect for what I was doing, lost my own honor. I kept on asking myself this question: was I supposed to feed a lot many lies in a media package to the information hungry readers, audiences and bask in the pointless false praise. But it was different now, as I was counting the bucks that got into my pocket. One day someone pointing out that I had become a messenger of power structure swore that I worked like a prostitute, appeasing all those who were in power and wanted to retain it, consolidate it. Once again I felt depressed and yes by handing over to me a selective list of clients, the office looked like a brothel. I had two choices – to accept the money and live with this reality, or leave and wander the streets as a destitute non-existing entity. I left because I thought there were still doors to be opened and blind alleys to be discovered.
I went back, but not to the teachers but very important persons I had so much praised in my small stint of career. One phone call and I was set for a bigger game, a bigger fort. There we didn’t discus individuals but groups, parties and a whole bunch of them together. I know what poker is, and this was the high stake game where the players would often go all-in. My lifestyle changed, morals became jelly and flexible and was consumed by my own consumption of a celebrity journalist. Everything became light and dazzling like psychedelic lights. The rigid ethics and morals about issues like humanity, poverty, conflicts, diseases, disasters had all but blunted. As important and valuable asset I had become, I had been reduced to nothing but an outer shell that was to decide upon the matters affecting thousands of gullible people. My world didn’t exist anymore and the world I lived in was a manufactured one. Unable to control all that was coming I tried therapies, medicines, drugs to the point of becoming an addict. I desperately wanted to escape because few lines would snatch livelihoods of hundreds of people, end up killing lot more, bring wealth and fortune to some powerful people. It is not easy to write the fate of people when you know that some of them may end in coffins or pyres.
For my own sense of redemption and to rehabilitate myself I left all and was back on the street. I would have stilled lived and pulled myself through but you don’t allow me. Your insatiable hunger to be ruled, to be misruled, to be used, to be exploited, to be abused, to clap and stand in ovation at some performance and show… all of it is telling me to go that cycle once more. I have nowhere to escape, nothing left to abandon, no morals, no principles or ideals, no sense of honor or self esteem. I hate you all for clapping as clowns at my own cause of death and offering me flowers at the funeral.