None flew over the cuckoo’s nest

Until now, none of us has escaped the nest where some of us can narrate the story from a place of sanity and freedom


Imran Jan December 01, 2022
The author is a political analyst. Email: [email protected] Twitter @iamimranjan

In the movie, One Flew OverThe Cuckoo’s Nest, the character Chief Bromden narrates the story. He is one of the characters in the story set inside a mental hospital. The story revolves around different authorities that are there to control individuals using cunning and coercive tactics. In Bromden’s mind, he calls these subtle authorities The Combine, referring to the systematic way the individuals are controlled and manipulated. The symbol of such a clever mechanism is embodied by the character Nurse Ratched.

The story never fails to remind me of the politics of Pakistan. Especially the one unfolding in front of our eyes right now. For generations, the word cuckoo has been used to mean as someone crazy. Cuckoo’s nest which, in the movie, is meant to be the mental hospital and metaphorically any place where madness, manipulation and exerting control happen, sounds no different than the madness Pakistan has unraveled into. In the movie, Nurse Ratched controls the patients at the hospital using a combination of rewards and shame. Sure, sounds very familiar ways to control the defiant ones in Pakistan.

In the end of the movie, Chief Bromden escapes the hospital after killing the only sane man there who was only trying to do his time at the mental hospital in order to avoid being in prison. The story has a central message: that instead of the sane man already there, it took a crazy man and his journey toward sanity to escape and achieve freedom. That freedom is always there for anyone brave enough to reach out for.

Such has been the rhetoric given to the nation by the most popular politician of Pakistan right now. But the Pakistani Nurse Ratched, if you will, went all out to crush him, using a combination of coercion, reward and shame. Freedom will not be achieved by The Combine because that would only go against their godly powers. Freedom will only be achieved with bravery and defiance.

Cyril Almeida rightly commented and I will rephrase it; that PML-N has a strategy in place but no popular support. In other words, they have a strong strategy because they know they do not have the support of the people. Reminds me of atheists. The atheists always have a strategy and a plan for almost everything, even daily plans because they do not believe in the existence of God and hence they do not allow any space for chance and God in their daily activities and affairs. People of faith, regardless of which faith, believe in starting the journey with or without the plan. Back to Almeida’s comment: Imran Khan has mass support and approval but no plan or if I may add; he has no plan because he knows he has people behind him. And then he says that The Combine neither has a plan, nor popular support. That is the system minus the systematic.

Imran Khan’s ouster from the office is one of those cold cases, which may never be solved even though the people know who the suspects are. However, if I can boil it down to a simple sentence, Imran Khan’s attempt to snatch the foreign policy of Pakistan by declining giving bases to the Americans and rejecting to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, left a bad taste inside the mouth of The Combine, which had to do whatever it took to take back its turf. And it did. Once the dispute had begun, everything that followed later was merely the raging flames from the initial ignition. Especially, the jailing, shaming and pornifying, if you will, of the politicians and journalists was all part of the strategy to crush the defiance. That defiance is the biggest threat to the existence of The Combine. Until now, none of us has escaped the nest where some of us can narrate the story from a place of sanity and freedom. Until then, we will fake sanity just as McMurphy fakes insanity.

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