Blood Money

Sep 23, 2013 by     Comments Off on Blood Money    Posted under: Non-Fiction, Opinions

They say money is the root of all evil. For me, this has purported to be nothing but the truth. For years, I have seen currency breed evil and evil in turn breed more evil. It is a vicious cycle that has not yet seen an end.

The event I narrate today is but a rendition of this particular cycle as it exists within our midst, thriving on our silence.

In a small village a few miles distant from Lahore, Khaano decided to get rich. Illiterate, he had no means of earning a proper livelihood. His earnings, especially given the present harsh times, were scarce and without routine. The family was majorly supported by his wife, Basho, who worked as a maid in the Feudal Lord’s haweli.

One day, Khaano decided he had had enough. He was going to make more money in one day than he could possibly ever do working hard as a laborer for ten years. He decided to kill.

He accused a local doctor and his male nurse of having an affair with his wife and mother-in-law before killing both women in cold blood. The doctor and his assistant went underground for several months while the local Jirga decided to take a hand in the case. In cases of Karo-Kari, the local police never interfere. It is considered to be a matter of honor and social customs – and does not come under the Pakistan criminal code.

The accused are never allowed to speak in a Jirga; for which reason, ransom on the accuser’s besmirched honor must be paid in order for the accused to leave safely with their lives intact. Both the Feudal Lord and the Jirga have a share in this payment; with the largest going, naturally, to the Feudal Lord himself.

After receiving his “blood-money” payment from the doctor, Khaano retired to a quiet life in the village. A few years passed by with no incident, before another murder shook the little village of Ghotki. This time, it was Khaano’s mother, sister and brother-in-law who lay dead at his feet in a pool of blood in order to avenge the shame they had supposedly brought on the family.

He accused the two women of dishonorable conduct and his brother-in-law for being their ‘pimp’. The Feudal Lord refused his plea of justice on the grounds that Khaano did not have any perpetrators left from whom to collect the blood-money. Everybody the Lord considered to be involved lay dead at his feet.

It was thus no surprise when Khaano resurfaced after a couple of days with the names of two villagers: a father and son who lived alone some distance away from the main village. The villagers boiled with anger against the accused, refusing to listen to their pleas of innocence as they were dragged before a Jirga for sentencing in imitation of a similar incident that had taken place years before.

Once again, Khaano was paid a hefty sum for his troubles. His wounded pride received the balm of thick wads of cash the accused were forced to pay, which he then divided between himself, the Jirga and the Feudal Lord. Once again, ‘justice’ was served – only to claim more innocent lives than the murderer himself.

Will this cycle never end?

 -The names of the individuals in this narrative have been changed to protect their identities.
   Written in collaboration with Qazi Minto. 

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