Published on 14th February 2015, Democracy by Fatima Bhutto is a short fiction set in the 90s when military coup overturned civilian government. It’s a fictional reenactment of Nawaz Sharif’s infamous folly of sacking Musharraf mid-flight and nearly getting him killed.
Infidelity and Hijacking
The story follows life of Brigadier Azad who was enjoying swimming in Sindh Club while waiting for his mistress Sharmilla, and a caravan of military vehicles under Major Jamshed arrive with emergency orders. Azad leaves to immediately secure the airport for plane’s landing while a drunk Sharmilla is news casting on national television.
Karachi of the 90s
There is a distinctive feel of 90s Karachi as the events progress, though the speed of the story and clear lack of background information causes confusion in what decade the story is set in. Airport, Sindh Club and PTV headquarters are the primary places the story takes place and their descriptions have been lightly touched. At one point the author says the capital must be now secured by 118 Brigade. It is unclear if the brigade was deliberately called 118 and not the real 111 Infantry Brigade stationed at the capital.
Apart from Honor to serve their “True” Army Chief rather than the one imposed on them so suddenly, infidelity is dominant theme of the story where Brigadier Azad is keeping himself unavailable to his wife Kiran while trying to find every reason to be with Sharmilla. Throughout the whole story he is worried about missing his date with her and thinking about ways to make up for it in the next few days, unaware of her own doings until he sees her on television drunkenly reading the news.
Crisp Language, Worldly People
Most characters seems to be following their instincts. Major Jamshed, trying to avoid becoming an imposter like his father under Zia; Kiran, screaming to look for her husband; Brigadier Azad, worried about both securing airport and pleasing his mistress; Sharmilla, trying not to look so drunk while reading the news to the applause of politicians. There are some formatting issues and script errors, such as “its tyres” written as “itstyres” which are aplenty for a fiction of such short length.
Democracy is an interesting but pointless fiction on the 90s coup. It seems to be a writing exercise that was published as an afterthought rather than a real work of fiction as it ought to be.Tags: Democracy, Democracy Review, Fatima Bhutto, Short fiction