A 15-minute read that demands to be read uninterrupted. Chances are, to see you end up saying, “One of the most unusual things I’ve ever read.”
I just hailed an auto-rickshaw out of my house and I’m running out wild on my way dressed punk with my acoustic guitar sitting at the corner of the seat…Goodness me, I’m late! My shirt unbuttoned, my shoe-laces un-tied, my face longing for some cold cream and some mad water draining through my hair…At once I take out my head from the side of the rickshaw, with one hand holding the rod of the rickshaw, and the other hand busy in putting some gel onto the hair and dress ‘em up! That’s it, the natural hair dryer, gets me off to a perfect hairstyle! My cell’s constantly barking to pick the call, but I’m not! Just one text I send, “Be ready! I’m almost there.” and I turn my cell off…My friends are anxiously waiting for me in the concert arena and seems like I’m kind of late… “THE NAMELESS BAND” is about to perform live in a concert for the first time and God damn! Their reckless vocalist is still on his way! – This is the “Farrukh Zafar”, my two band members Osama Khalid [lead guitarist] and Hasan Ahmed [drummer] have always come to know!
All of a sudden, the concert hall takes notice of the sound of a rickshaw! The crowd is absolutely silent and confused after hearing a rickshaw sound on the mic… My two band mates know it’s no one but me! In no time, they see the rickshaw standing on stage that came from behind the backdrop! And to our surprise, it brings a huge electrifying wave of excitement into the crowd! Osama can’t wait to cash on this moment and he starts playing the guitar in-line with the roaring crowd and the sound of the rickshaw. All this triggers our drummer to drum, and with this, we all witness the coolest tune we’d ever imagine – The crunching sound of electric guitar, acoustic guitar and drums, smoothly blended with the rickshaw’s jingle!
There are only two moments in the lives of us three that can be termed as “real important moments”- Moments that literally changed our lives 360 degrees. One is THIS, and I keep the slot for the second moment vacant for the future…Nobody knew, not even me, how this peculiar vehicle, rickshaw, would change our lives altogether! The spur-of-the-moment idea of blending the Rickshaw’s sound with the contemporary rock beats has now made us famous allover the nation. Two things that the people have done for us: They made us famous in no time, and they have started associating a rickshaw with our band and in other words, given a name to our band, “The Rick Band”! In this way, “THE NAMELESS BAND” gets a new name and is now a unique entity! This is what RADIO PAKISTAN has been screaming all night while playing our new number in their charts, “The Rick Band is the inventor of a new rock music genre, The Rick Rock!”
I really can’t believe my fate. Neither me, nor Osama and Hasan, have ever received so many phone calls and texts in a few hours! Hasan has got tired of replying to his fans, but then, there’s one call that’s extremely important! It’s the DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS,who wants us to record our first studio album with them. This just sounds remarkably rocking!
Our debut album, The Rick Revelations, recorded at the DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS, with more than 10 different Rick tunes, comes out with a bang! More than twenty thousand copies sold on Day 1! After doing almost a dozen of concerts and shows, we finally decide to shoot our first music video. Our video features plenty of rickshaws parked at a highway and the Rick Band hops along the roofs of the rickshaws from one rickshaw to another with their moves. Our video also features some unusual rickshaw realignments such as a wheelie with our rickshaw running on two wheels, 360 degree turns etc…As accustomed, innovation always had to pay off, and so it did! As our hit video is being played on the channels, we decide to film our second music video… Tonight we three fly away to the holy lands of Palestine for our new video shoot. Our new number is another try of inventing something new by amalgamating folk music with our Rick rock. Ever since I wrote the lyrics of this song, I kept the Aqsa mosque and the Gaza strip in my mind. And so, we are finally making it to the land of the prophets…
It’s 7 AM here Palestine Local Time and we’re sitting by the window pane, while Hasan is busy eyeing for suitable places for the shoot, through the binoculars…His binoculars have been moving left or right for the last 10 minutes but he never got to stop at a sight until this…”Oh boy! You stopped up at some sight finally! Is that a mystic sight?” asks Osama in curiosity. “No” is the answer from Hasan. He’s still submerged into the depth of the sight and still hasn’t got anything to tell us. He steps back and hands over the binoculars to me, and after watching the sight for a few moments, I wordlessly pass it over to Osama. No body’s moving, neither our tongues. Because we just saw some troops snatching away little children from their mothers and shooting them dead. It’s no doubt the vindictive Israeli soldiers, snatching and killing the children of innocently veiled Muslim mothers.
Three hours have passed and we have hardly spoken to each other. We are sitting in a state of down-in-the-dumps, with our backs as erect as an arrow, and the scenes of those pitiless killings playing at the back of our minds. At once, we decide to visit those bereaved mothers and other people in grief, residing in the heart of Gaza. Our local guides, Mustafa Hanif and Irtaza Rasheed, along with our manager, Zoya Asad, take us to the tormented souls, right after sunset, since the troops go back to their barracks as evening approaches. We meet several women who have lost a man in one or the other way, at the hands of this cruel country. To name some; Bessy Espina, who just lost her son today in the morning; Mehvish Khan, who lost her husband in the latest war; Aliya Zafar, who has devoted her life to look after her father whose legs had to be detached from his body as a result of the intense bruising caused by a Panzerschreck rocket. We then meet Palestine’s representative in the UN, Amna Ali. Every single face has the same helpless story of grief. This is it! We can’t take it more and we pack up our baggage, as well as our ambitions to shoot the 2nd music video. And the second slot for the two real important moments of our life, that was kept vacant for the future, just got filled! This is the second time that our lives are abruptly changing. The course of our fate is changing while the earth is busy revolving around the gambling sun. And we are not going back to Karachi, but announcing our European Tour. Better say, our mission to Europe! There was no single country that could refuse to issue a visa to a rock band that was standing 4th on the MTV Modern Rock Charts. We remained awake for two consecutive nights, with me writing the lyrics for 5 Anti-Zio tracks and Osama and Hasan preparing the tunes.
Here we go on starting our tour. We start from Germany, the homeland of Hitler. Just 10 minutes to go in to perform, there comes a phone call from Awais Imran, the General Manager of the DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS…
“CANCEL YOUR EUROPEAN TOUR RIGHT NOW! STOP ALL THIS FUSS. OR IF YOU DON’T… THEN THIS IS THE END OF YOUR CONTRACT WITH THE DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS.”
At this moment, we come to know that even the DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS are secret supporters of the illegal state of Israel. Even though, all our song notes, lyrics and recordings for the second album are with the DEADENSTEINTM RECORDS, and our royalty for the sale of our first album completely lies with this contract, we didn’t take much time to refuse. And the next minute, we were singing out loud against the ‘Zio’s, in the very heart of Berlin!
As we moved across Europe, millions of people, who already had so much hatred for the radical Jewish ‘state’, joined hands to turn our Euro tour into a Global Anti-Zio movement.
After spreading the fire all through the forests, we are flying to the United States of America. On reaching NY, we announce our final concert-cum-protest, which is expected to be the biggest public gathering in World History.
Our Ticket Master, Usama Jabbar reports almost 9 million tickets have been sold so far, and plenty of dignitaries have confirmed their presence, through personal phone calls; Yisroel Dovid Weiss [Spokesman for Neturei Karta International, an anti-Zionist grouping of Haredi Jews], Skillet [An American Christian Rock Band], Danyal Ahmed, the right-hand man of George Galloway [Author, broadcaster and former British MP who campaigns in favor of the Palestinians] and Hina Aman [Spokesperson and Legal Advisor to Mahmud Ahmedinijad, President of Iran] to name some.
Here comes the day which we have been waiting for. Every sun beam that falls on this planet today, has got to give hope to the unlimited grief-stricken people, crushed by the barbaric policies of the ‘Zio’s. As I fold the blinds and look down through the window, I see Times Square absolutely packed to capacity by a gigantic swarm of people that does not seem to have an end, as far as the scope of the human eye is concerned. All of a sudden, room number 13-A, 13th floor, Hotel Monte Carlo, Times Square, NY, is knocked by a person… Hasan goes to check who’s on the door. He finds a waiter with “Ammar Haider” written on his name plate, and a food tray in his hands. “Who is it, Hasan?” asks Osama. “Did you call for breakfast?” asks Hasan in reply. As Osama replies back in positive, Hasan tells him that it’s the waiter with breakfast. As he let’s the waiter in, the waiter uncovers three pistols, that were hiding under the tray cover and pleads us to pick one each, as the killing wing of the ‘Zio’s might attack us anytime. We are absolutely speechless, although we’ve got security to accompany us from right outside our room and onwards. As soon as we three step forward to pick the arms, there comes a stream of bullets, piercing through our skulls. The same window through which we saw the makings of the greatest protest in World History, we came to see the snipers who were formerly hiding in the opposite building. Maybe this was a move to bring all three of us close together around one tray containing pistols, so that the snipers get a perfect view to snipe us through the big window.
As we three take the last breathes of our lives, we have absolutely no regrets, because nature chose us in making just another prediction of Nostradamus come true;
“Three bizarre music people,
Make stronger, who were feeble,
Zion faces cries,
Jewish nation dies”
The Rick Band might not have won a Grammy Award, or a Nobel Prize, but we were indeed, the propellers to time. We die proud as we always remembered these words of Abraham Lincoln which my mum used to remind us of, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” This is just the start of the beginning. Because we are…The Rick Band.
I dedicate this piece to all Palestinians who’re bearing a fever they can’t sweat out.
The next freedom flotilla to break the siege of Gaza, as announced by George Galloway, will be leaving soon. If you sense it’s time you should embark the flotilla, I swear to Allah, I’m thinking of the same. Now, can we be the lucky ones in history?
The sequel to this short story can be read here.
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