When there was a rat in the house

Published: August 27, 2013

The family stands like a nation. ILLUSTRATION: IMAAN SHEIKH

The family stood by like a nation. Mother was the intelligence. She knew all that took place – how many people entered the house, when they came in and when they left. Only she truly knew the quantity and quality of ration and what kind of sustenance was needed at any given point in time. She was also the government.

Father was the army. He fixed leaks, changed bulbs and defended the territory from external threats. He was also the opposition. My sister was the media. She kept a strict check on the army and government. She was also the judiciary.

I was the civilian. I toiled hard and rarely confronted the army, government or judiciary. The government was kind and worried about me, but complained the army was lethargic and arrogant. The media and judiciary said they cared, but derived much amusement from my plights.

One day a rat managed to break in. No one seemed to notice it for the first few days, but as suspicion of someone tampering with the ration grew, the intelligence brought it up with the army. The army rejected the claims outright and said that the institution was being defamed. There was no imposter in its territory. The government wanted to take action but the opposition said it was acting in haste. The talks ended in deadlock.

It was not too long before the media got hold of the news and the civilian was informed, however, the the civilian did not feel for the issue too strongly. He did not think minor pilferage would do any significant harm.

A few more days passed before the matter could no longer be ignored. The imposter had had encounters with all. The civilian was also uneasy and the judiciary gave the government a deadline to nab the unwanted foreigner.

The army paid little heed to the government’s suggestions and acted arbitrarily, without success. The government and opposition were having a free-for-all – dragging in other completely unrelated issues to the main debate, thus derailing the actual process of dealing with the threat.

The imposter had, in the time the state was bickering, entrenched its roots firmly and multiplied in might.

In the end, there was no choice left. The fumigators arrived and delivered exactly what they had guaranteed – total annihilation. The mice are no more but the period of inaction still haunts the state. The media doesn’t let the others forget and there’s more than the occasional mention. The government then blames the army; the army blames the intelligence which blames the media. The civilian, fortunately, is not accountable for his apathy.

Ali Haider Habib

Ali Haider Habib

A senior sub-editor on the National desk at The Express Tribune who tweets @haiderhabib (twitter.com/haiderhabib)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Legend

    Pathetic piece of writingRecommend

  • Tanveer Khadim

    @Ali Haider Habib
    LOL …. super hilarious, I really enjoyed reading your blog, especially the last paragraph. :D
    Full marks 10/10 Recommend

  • http://xerics.blogspot.com Xeric

    Quite creative, but totally based on misplaced notions.Recommend

  • Hah !

    What a rouge army,that not only opposes it’s govt. but has a say in policy making…Recommend

  • Morons

    What did I just read?Recommend

  • Maneeha Aftab

    A well and cleverly crafted piece. The analogies you have drawn do, to some extent, simplify the complex state matters of our country but I have to admit, the absurdity in some of the things such as the nexus between the government, army and media, probably based on your pre-conceived notions, is hard to miss.Recommend

  • loginabm

    Well written. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Kudos for your work :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Excellent concept but poor planning and shoddy execution………..but then you’re the confused civilian, so no one should blame you.

  • Channa

    I love your article Mr. Haider. I believe people who fail to understand this piece lack a sense of humor, something people really need in Pakistan. Despite all the humor the totally understand the message you’re trying to convey. Great work! Keep it up man. Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/BajiPlease Baji Pleases

    This has to be the smartest piece of writing in the longest time on ET. Creativity, witty and succinct yet powerful.Recommend

  • Ilsa.

    Best. Recommend

  • AbbasJay

    An intelligent and uncanny synopsis of our national character! Recommend

  • militant

    @writer….u forget us…….the militants if u are taking about the pakistani system…Recommend

  • Nb

    @ militant

    Hahaha….He already mentioned you dear..(the father…who’s your supplier…)Recommend

  • Critical

    As a Pakistani,shouldn’t you be feeding the rats in the assumption that it might go to your neighbor’s house and attack their rations ????Recommend



  • HZK

    Nice going. Enjoyed the analogies through out.Recommend

  • NS

    Hit ‘Like’ if you went back to the top to check who the Govt. Army, Judiciary and Media is :)Recommend

  • Hardliner

    Oh how familiar……… only that u forgot to mention that the rat entered from our eastern border……… :-)Recommend

  • Hardliner


    Shouldn’t u be telling this to our eastern neighbor?? its their house from where these rats entered ours’ ;-)Recommend

  • the rat

    hahahah awesome!!! y did i miss it first :'(
    @channa: spot on!!Recommend