Neelum Nawabji, chairperson of the Progressive Alliance of Pakistan, has read the news items three times now, and every reading has risen the level of her rage.
Not surprisingly, the kitchen helper labeled as butler for public consumption was getting more flack than usual.
It took her three shots of double espresso to gain the strength to pour out herself in her conference call to her progressive and liberal network.
On call were Sitara Ayyashi, president and founder, of the Liberal Alliance for Feminism, Firoz Shobdaybaz, founding president of the Association for the Protection of Pakistani Liberalism (APPL, spoken as Apple), and Chamak Josh, founding editor of the Illustrated Liberal Pakistan.
A frantic Neelum blurts out, ”Guys did you read the news this morning? I have been doing a lot of Googling and it is everywhere! Unbelievable! Such crap going around worldwide! All our greats drank like fish … our own ZAB… Bhutto used to put fish to shame… Lenin Prize winner Fair Ahmad Faiz, the poet who truly felt the workers’ pain … Manto … who else… except for the sorry Donald Trump, every successful person tipples.
“This new analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risk, published in the August 23 issue of The Lancet, says be warned if you’re one of the third of all humankind who drinks alcohol. It says that there’s no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for your overall health.
“According to the study, alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths.
“Have you guys heard of this magazine? Neither I. So I just checked Wikipedia. It says that the Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best-known general medical journals.
“This is not all. The earlier study published in April in The Lancet said that even one drink a day could shorten life expectancy; while long-term reduction in alcohol use added one to two years to life expectancy at age 40.
“They are even scaring expectant mothers that alcohol in breast milk may lead to lower cognition in kids. OK … OK … don’t we have formula milk?
“And wonder of wonders who financed this study? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Yep. I am sure it is those fundos … those fundamentalists … the maulanas … have infiltrated the Gates set up.
“We … we funded it … buying all those Microsoft Windows and what not from Gates… this is so sad!
“Imagine, Sitara, Chamak, and Firoz having dry meetings! People will think that it is a meeting of some fundos and not liberals! And now this nut, Imran Khan has done his oath taking serving a cup of tea and some locally made cookies. Surely his fans will go crazy imitating him and of course, anyone wanting to look up to date will do too.
“Oh, fine, Lancet or whatever, when our guys don’t give a hoot to the Quran and hadith, why would they believe some puny Brit medical journal, which no one knows!
Sitara ever so thoughtful, added, “Oh shoot, you know that we do give more ear to anything some one blasts from New York, or L.A., or Paris or London … so keep your fingers crossed. And in your next cocktail, watch out for all those pointing to their abdomen and saying ‘oh, I can’t, it’s my liver’.”
Neelum was unrelenting, “I tell you that this study is simply aimed at scaring the daylights out of the weak hearted… not me … I am not lily livered … what fish … I will now drink like a whale!”
“Neelum there is a bright side to everything. If some get scared and stop or reduce their drinking, the dealers will have to cut prices to stay in business,” offered Firoz.
“Yes … oh … wow… I should share this with Chamkeen Chakkar. She hasthe best contacts with dealers.
“But guys, don’t you agree that even white people can get it wrong,” declared Neelum optimistically.