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While evil Hindus plan world domination, sacrifice young virgins for gaining immortality, or simply terrorize others for no obvious reason, their Muslim counterparts emerge as noble saviors and wise father figures, righteously guarding their religious brethren and the rest of the world from the claws of Hindu spiritual imperial- ism.
This threatening Hindu power usually derives from vicious and ruthless black magic, which requires blood-curdling ritual objects such as owls with twisted necks, human hearts, or the blood of several virgins.
The magazine has been published for 17 con- secutive years and its staff consists of seven regular employees.
But what is the relation between a nation-state and pulp fiction short sto- ries sold at bazars, bus stops, and train stations? Stuart Hall suggests an an- swer to this in his seminal work on cultural productions, where he analyzes the nexus of cultural identities and political movements For him a nation needs a variety of platforms where its history, its position amongst other nations, and its future trajectory can be represented.
In other words, the nation is not simply a steady geopolitical entity, but rather a system of cultural representations that is continuously performed in various ways p.
This list does not claim to be exhaustive and many more mediators might come to mind. It is within this concatenation of texts and images that specific characteristics solidify over time and start to form an almost naturalized axis of a people. Lurid tales are no exception in this regard. National identity To disentangle the ideological content found in Dar Digest, one needs to analyze the crossroads of nationalism, stereotyping, and psychoanalytical approaches to the uncanny.
After the presentation of my empirical material, I will link them to the logic of stereotyping and its connection to the uncanny.
The complex link between Pakistani citizenship and Hindu identity has its roots in the two-nation theory Urd. This movement for Pakistan Urd. Jalal ; Talbot ; Shaikh In spite of the complex- ities behind the events that led to the Partition, the simplified notion of an incommensurability of Muslims and Hindus is widely disseminated in India and Pakistan and often serves as a retroactive explanation for the separation of the subcontinent.
Nation-state identity in Pakistan, for example, evolved according to an ideology that equates being Pakistani with being Muslim. This development required the exclusion of some for the unity of many. One platform where the strategic expulsion of Hindus becomes conspic- uous is the production of schoolbooks. Aziz ; Lall ; Rah- man Since textbooks frequently emphasize that Pakistan is a Muslim nation, this threat to the country semantically shifts to become a hazard for a shared Muslim identity.
We live in our country. Pakistan is an Islamic country. Here Muslims live. Muslims believe in the unity of Allah. Fre- quently benign tales carry similar messages under their vulgar content that, in the end, repeat the incommensurability of Hindus and Muslims by anx- iously retelling the story of the misguided, but also demonic Hindu.
The heart is put into a jar and then brought to a tantric, Ram Lal Das, who is also pleased about the quality of the organ p. It is the eleventh heart that Dr. Shankar has cut out of unnamed male victims and we learn that he and his team of scheming surgeons have now completed their contract with Ram Lal Das.
As pay- ment for this bloody agreement Ram Das gives Dr. Shankar is able to enter the mind of a young fellow who sits with his friend in a restaurant p. Instigating turbulence between the two, which ultimately ends in a physical fight between the friends, Dr. Shankar has proven the efficacy of the magic words given to him by Ram Lal Das. Pleased, Dr. After Dr. Shankar makes sure that his simpleminded lady assistant knows what aliens are, he explains that with the help of the mantra acquired from Ram Lal Das, he will create an army of man-machines with the power to fight the space aliens p.
With the support of the Indian government he intends to shoot a rocket into the cosmos for the sake of finding and killing them all p. Furthermore, Dr. Shankar plans to use his galactic supremacy to help India to become the new superpower on the globe.
Nirmala, who is very im- pressed by the doctor, nonetheless inquires if his plan might not be a bit too ambitious, which prompts Dr. Shankar to sneer at religion and the concept of God, whom he deems as a mere human creation ibid.
In the next scene the story jumps to Dr. At this point Dr. Shankar is complete- ly convinced of his imminent success. Suddenly the door to his demonic laboratory, where he works with his sinister entourage, bursts open and a white-clad figure with a long beard enters the room. Shankar, Nir- mala and Mohan turned around.
He was wearing a long white dress and had prayer beads in his hand p. We learn that this is Baba Abdulla, a pious Muslim man, who has witnessed the scene in the restaurant and after that decided to kill the evil mind-con- trolling Dr. Shankar and his servants. But Baba Abdulla has not come alone. He brought a gang of ghosts with him — all from pious descent as he men- tions p. A fight emerges in which the sinful bunch — Dr.
Shankar, his lady assistant, and their helpers — are ultimately killed by the pious sprits. Baba Abdulla saves the captured and mutilated men, who, as we learn, come from Muslim, Christian, and Hindu backgrounds. After their release Abdul- la brings them to the next bus stop from where they return to their respective home towns.
The story uses a wide set of genre-typical tropes including pow- er-hungry Hindu villains, black magic, and pious Muslim saviors. Embodied in the figure of Dr. Shankar — the megalomaniac, atheist super villain — we find the quintessential image of the untrustworthy and simply evil Hindu. In exchange for this support Dr. Shankar promises to turn India into a superpower on the globe, even surpassing Russia and the U.
India, thus, emerges as a cunning nation, which is conniving with an evil scientist and a tantric to gain world domination. In the end of the story, Baba Abdulla — a deus ex machina figure — averts this conspiracy and saves the world.
At one point he describes himself as obedient to the laws of God and hence responsible for eradicating oppression p. Baba Abdulla also controls spirits, but the story quickly reassures the reader that these are pious ghosts nek jinn — strictly in opposition to the black magic of the Hindu villain. Black magic gained from the brutal murder of the innocent, and executed by an atheist yet Hindu doctor versus an army of pious spirits under the command of a saintly figure.
These structures abound within the genre, and — with few exceptions — can be seen as the main characteristic of stories that feature Hindu characters.
The men have brought a girl with them, named Lilavati, who suffers from occasional fits. After this horrendous ritual, she explains, the bloody virgin cocktail will turn into amrit jal — a drink with the power to make Bhageshvari immortal.
Sadhu Maharaj is intrigued by this scheme and strikes a deal with the evil witch: he promises to let her go and Bhageshvari vows to share the amrit jal with him. The villagers are shocked, but subsequently agree and hand the girl over to Sadhu Maharaj. Akmal is suspicious about the whole story and suggests that Mahindra consults a Muslim saint, named Amal Baba.
Mahindra is appalled and requests that Amal Baba help him. The saint wants to support him, but explains that without converting to Islam, Mahindra will be pow- erless to help. You need to act as soon as possible. I am ready to become Muslim. You have taken the right decision. May God help you.
Amal Baba, further- more, gives Mahindra a dagger engraved with parts of the Quran. Along his way, for example, a beautiful young girl tries to seduce Arslan. But when he rejects her seductive attempts, the girl reveals herself to be a nasty witch. Arslan quickly destroys While there is no definite rule for the Hindus in rural Pakistan, cousin marriage is usually 12 rare, especially on the paternal side.
Further down his path Arslan reaches a canal blocking his way, but instead of carrying water the stream is of blood. The young Muslim easily fights them off by recit- ing the Quran. The bloody stream also disappears after Arslan blows some verses on a clod of earth and throws it into the river. After a long and arduous journey in which he endures earthquakes and fights off Hindu priests and massive bats, Arslan reaches the temple, where he encounters the evil Maharaj.
The cruel Sadhu shows him a cage in which Lilavati is kept, and swears that Arslan will never get his Lilavati back. In this moment the witch Bhageshvari attacks. Im- mediately after that Arslan dashes to the Kali statue that has pride of place in the temple. The evil Sadhu staggers and falls on to the Kali statue, which shatters on the floor. After that Arslan takes his Lilavati out of the cage and they leave the temple.
Similar to other tales, Islam emerges out of this battle as the superior religion. The saint then gives the young man what only Islam can provide to overcome the tantric and his evil spawn.
The hierarchical roles in this part of the story lack subtlety and clearly produce a chasm be- tween the two traditions. While evil emanates from one of the two religions, safety and salvation spring from the other. From here onwards the two religions, embodied in the evil Sadhu Ma- haraj and the newly converted Arslan, oppose each other in a physical and metaphysical showdown. While the Hindu Sadhu recites mantras to com- mand witches p. In this encounter Islam and Hindu- ism are reduced to their respective holy words and texts, represented by mantras on the one side and parts of the Quran on the other.
The words do not represent theological debate and reasoning, but rather lead to a clash of brute power. It is only as Mo- hammad Arslan, the young convert, that he has the power to overthrow the tantric and his evil kin. The story ends with the shattering of the black Kali statue inside the equally black temple, another awkward reference in a long list of simplistic metaphors. Since then their father alone takes care of the two.
Mala is good friends with Sunbal, a Muslim girl, who is exceptionally fash- ion-conscious. Sunbal wears pink, red, and green extensions in her hair, a mas- sive amount of bangles on her arms and, on this day, is dressed in a short top with a skeleton printed on it p.
One day Sunbal and Mala decide to go and see the Taj Mahal. Sunbal drives the car and the two girls keep chatting and gossiping the whole way. At one point, when Sunbal talks about her cousin who has mastered the art of dressing fashionably and even surpasses the style of the singer Madonna, the young woman gets so excited that she loses control over the car.
The vehicle slides off the edge of a cliff and in this moment both girls reach out to God for help. The next scene takes the reader into a hospital. When Mala regains consciousness, Akash and Raj Malhotra go to see her. As soon as Mala wakes up, she asks about her friend Sunbal, and learns from Akash that Sunbal is completely well and merely suffered a minor bone frac- ture. The door on her side of the car had opened right when the car fell off the cliff and so Sunbal was saved from the flames, while Mala was severely injured.
A few days later Akash visits Mala in the hospital. That night Akash stays with Mala in her hospital room and performs a puja. Mala is annoyed with her brother and tells him to stop, because she has lost her faith. At one point, however, Mala asks her brother for a favor and forces him to promise not to tell their father.
I started to believe… there is someone… who is inside me… who tells me that I should approach Islam… it spreads peace inside me… brother allow me to become Muslim… so that I can get salvation after death p. Mala feels as if she would die soon and so convinces Akash to reach out to Sunbal who should convert Mala to Islam the same night. Finally, Akash agrees and starts to search for Sunbal.
An evil witch, however, distracts him and lures him away from the hospital. The hideous creature tells Mala that she comes on the orders of Kalka, a powerful Sadhu.
On this very night, exactly 17 years before, Kalka laid eyes on Mala, when her mother was on the way to the hospital to give birth to her. Akash has to light the pyre, as his father Raj is too devastated by the death of his daughter to per- form the ritual. After the ceremony, Akash spots a woman in the distance who seems familiar. Sunbal tells Akash that after the accident she stopped using mobile phones and started to go to the al huda center for her education. The accident changed her life, she says, and now Sunbal knows that her God is almighty and always listening p.
Professor Jallaludin offers to help Akash enquire into the death of his sister. He tells him that Kalka, the evil tantric, lives in one of the biggest slums in the country — in Dharavi Mum- bai. But he also warns Akash about the difficulty of this endeavor. This task, however, does not frighten Akash and so he leaves to find Kalka. Suddenly a voice inside him tells him to stop and drink water.
Fortunately, it is really the evil Kalka, who then attacks Akash. An epic battle erupts between the two, but Akash is too weak and needs to flee the scene. Exhausted and confused, he sees a mosque in the distance and intuitively runs towards it p. Fearing for his life, Akash starts to recite parts of the Bhagavad Gita, which he once memorized. In his last moment, Akash has a vision of his sister Mala who beckons him to come closer p.
Kalka and his heinous servants perish on the spot. The last scene takes the reader into a car where a woman is listening to music and chewing gum. Madhu sees Akash sitting on the side of the road and, taken by surprise, stops the car.
This extraordinariness pertains to both its writing style as well as the content conveyed. Such rudimentary descriptions suggest that the evil Hindu ascetic is a well-known trope for the readership, which makes a detailed introduction unnecessary.
This, furthermore, supplies the readers with a mostly blank canvas onto which they can project their wildest fantasies. Her mother left when she was twelve p. When Mala refuses to go to the temple and instead choos- es to leave for a picnic with her friend Sunbal, the tragedy unfolds.
Sunbal causes a horrible accident and while the Muslim girl suffers minor damage, Mala ends up terribly injured.
The story offers a clear explanation — Mala called out to the wrong God. Afraid of what her father might say, she secretly begs her brother to help her. Throughout the story Mala is a disempow- ered character whose paralyzed position in life becomes manifested by her tragic accident. Sunbal, on the other hand, emerges as purged and receives a second chance. Her character is the stereotype of a westernized young Muslim woman, who is more interested in fashion than in Islamic salvation.
There we find a purged Sunbal who is — similar to her initial appearance — introduced through her way of dressing. She has stopped using mobile phones and visits the al-huda center for religious education. Sunbal, on the other hand, gets another chance. The other main character is Akash. One poignant example occurs towards the end of the story, when Akash flees the evil Kalka.
The organization has gained brief international attention; when it became known that Tashfeen Malik, one of the perpetrators of the San Bernadino shooting, studied in one of their seminars in Multan, Pakistan cf. Cambridge University Press, Partition Dialogues: Memories of a Lost Home.
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