In which Jassasa visits the dargahs to hear the chatter of pirs and learns of their unease
You must hear this, Master! Last week, I was brushing my teeth when a new image window popped up in the bathroom mirror. The face of the qutub materialised therein and he asked me to look into the reason for the ongoing carnage in the city. Because he looked troubled and also because it’s always a good thing to be chosen for errands by the powerful, I did not ask him to explain his reason for employing me in the mission. After informing me that magic was being employed and I must watch my step, he disappeared.
I pondered my mission all night long, marking the city map and occasionally consulting my library. Early the next morning I set out. Now, Master should know that there exists a parallel occult municipality in the city which is responsible for providing health, security, family welfare and absolution services to the citizens. Its offices are in the big, small and medium statured dargahs tucked away in the city’s many alleys and neighbourhoods.
I had decided that in the coming days I would make visits in person and in disguise to the big and small dargahs to hear the chatter of pirs. Surely if magic was in the works, the pirs would have an idea and would guide me to its source.
As the city is known to be in the protection of the patron pir Abdullah Shah Ghazi, I decided to first visit him. He keeps Karachi safe from all marine hazards and has personally intervened with tsunamis and cyclones. Everyone trusts the sincerity of his efforts because his own property sits on prime land by the sea. As the patron pir of Karachi, he is the mayor of this occult municipality.
Above his dargah, the luminous spirit of the pir fluttered in the air but to my eyes it looked weak and gangly. I had done my homework before making the visit and knew that he had been in his time a famous hunter of ibex, blue bull, gazelle, deer and rabbits. Moreover, as the title ‘ghazi’ implied, he was a warrior saint. I was shocked to find this famous hunter, warrior and tamer of typhoons in such sorry shape. While I ate the halva that a devotee offered me, I strained my ears to hear what the pir’s spirit muttered. It spoke not a word but it did look every now and then fearfully in a northwesterly direction. I looked in the map but saw no watery body there. Surely a tsunami was not coming from the land? And what had made him so weak? Did the magic get to him too?
I had many unanswered questions but decided to leave then to carry on with my field work.
My visit to Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s dargah had put the stamp of ill luck on my efforts. At all the dargahs I visited, I found the spirits of the pirs not at all chatty. And like the magnetic hand of the compass that seeks North, their gaze furtively and invariably swam northwest with fear. There was clearly something in the works there that had suffocated all the spirit out of them. But what was it?
I looked into the map again and suddenly struck my forehead. In the northwest of Karachi, in the neighbourhood of Gadap Town, was marked the domicile of Manghopir. After studying all night I was feeling groggy and I had missed it. I was done with my work for the day and I rushed back home to my library to research this clue, and suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle began to form an intelligible shape.
Guess what lies in Manghopir? Springs of sulphur, the element which represents the presence of the devil. There is also a whole colony of crocodiles, whose chief is called Mor Sahib. He regularly receives blood sacrifices. It is believed that he was miraculously converted into his present reptilian form from a louse. But I will strike a discordant note and say that he owes his present form to the darkest black magic. I’m on it, Master! I’m on it!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.