Friday, May 6, 2016

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim - 1

The Fall and Rise of the House of Salim

Salim's House
A covel nomedy, a camel dromedary, or some such.

Dédicacé à Wayne Stewarte

1
Salim's Birth, and Childhood

This is the house. This is the house, in which lives Salim. This is the house that Salim was born in. This is the house Salim was married in. This is the house Salim was married in. This is the house Salim was married in. This is the house Salim was married in. I do not repeat myself, because Salim as a member of the faithful had four wives. He did not love one more than the others, but it is not clear exactly what Salim's love means, because at times it seemed that what this meant was that he did not love any of them at all, but that is later. This is the house Salim hoped to die in.

So how did this come about? And who is Salim?

God is good. God is great. Let me tell you how this was.

In this House in a small city of five million in the state of Udder Prudish, Salim was born, to the first wife of a wealthy merchant. His father had been born under the Raj, and prospered by trading with the Raj. He sold grain to farmers, and coal to miners. He sold sand to Arabs. He sold women to brothels. Now do you understand how he became rich? Because at the start of every year farmers need grain to plant, having sold all of theirs, and in famine they need grain to feed themselves. Because miners, when they start mining again, need coal to start their pumps and trains, having sold all of the old coal. The sand in much of the Arab lands, praise be Allah, is too poor to blow glass. And of course, brothels always need more women to restock themselves. His father would always remember that his fortune was others misfortune, and that the wrong thing to do, was the right thing to do.

May peace be upon you if you understand this.

So when Salim was a boy, he was a very naughty boy. He pissed in the sand, he shat on the floor and rolled it in grain to hide it, he would hit the women, and he would pound the coal into dust. And so he was sent away to the countryside to learn better manners from the third wife of his grandfather.

God is good. God is great. There is no other God than God. But God is a gangster. Remember this.

So when Salim was away, his grandmother would neglect him, and punish him by making him wear girl's clothes. Salim was ashamed and always stayed inside. So staying inside, he learned to read, and read the Koran every day. In this way he came to know every verse, without exception. His Lord was kind to him, because he gave Salim a bad memory. So Salim would have to begin again at the beginning after finishing.

In this way, when a mob came to rob the house, they found Salim wearing only a loincloth, reading the Koran. Look! At 12! Already a holy man! So the left the house alone and burned down the house next door. Which belonged to a pain maker, so they all perished in the flames. This saved the town from much more destruction, and Salim was put on a chair and paraded through town, and flowers were thrown on him.

Back in town, his father sold the sand without telling, and months later the Arabs came back, and the father was afraid, because he knew that these Arabs were the ones who he had sold the pissed sand to. They came to him and said:

“Oh mighty merchant, we have rushed back here, because when this sand was made into glass.” “Yes?”

The father said trembling “How do you know it was my sand?”

“We know. We want more, because it stained the most delicate shade of green, and our sheikh wants more. Do you have any?”

“I know where I can get some, come back in a week and I will have some.”

“Wondrous! God is good! God is great!”

And God likes Green.

Then the next day his second wife came to him and said, “You know the grain that we threw out because Salim shat in it?”

“Sat in it?”

“No, shat in it.”

“Ah yes. So?”

“Well it turns out the grain was with rot and poisoned, and the house next door lost two children from eating it.”

“How did Salim know? He could not have known?”

“But he did, he at a little first, and this made him sick. That is why he fouled the floor, and needed to hide the mess.”

God is good. God is great. But God sometimes poisons the grain.

The next day after this the owner of the brothel came back and asked Salim's father.

“The girls you sold me...”

“Yes?” said the father, trembling, “How do you know they were mine?”

“Because they were the ones who had been hit.”

“So?”

“Well we thought they were ruined, because now they would hit back.”

“And so? What do you want?”

“We want more, because many of the soldiers like to be hit. In fact, there is a general who likes to be hit more than have intercourse. Can you train more girls like this?”

“I could, but it will take me some time.”

God is good. God is great. But God can be a goon.
The next day a man in dark masks came to him and said.

“Are you the merchant who sells coal?”

“Yes, but now I have only coal dust.”

“Wonderful! I need to make fireworks by tomorrow for a birthday party celebration. It is for a rich Chinese merchant and he demanded it. If you have coal dust, I will take all you have, because there is none to be found, what with all the rebellions.”

So the father sold all the coal dust at a trebled price. He sent for Salim to come home from the countryside, so that he could piss in more sand, roll grain in shit, hit girls and pound coal.
But when he sold the sand to Arabs, they came back and beat him, because it did not turn green as promised.

And his son did not get sick, so he rolled no more grain.

And his son would not hit girls; because having worn girl's clothes, he knew how embarrassing it was to be a girl.

And his son powdered the coal, but the fireworks maker came back, and tried to sue the father, because the fireworks had exploded, killing the rich Chinese merchant's wife.

So the father murmured. “Not only is the wrong thing to do the right thing to do, but the right thing to do is the wrong thing to do.”

So he summoned Salim. And he said:
“Salim, I have four things to tell you.”

“What is the first father?”

“Your fortune is other's misfortune.”

“Yes father, but how am I not to do unto others as I would not have them do unto me and follow these words?”

“You will find out.”

“And what is the second thing?”

“The right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do.”

“Yes, father. But why would God punish the good?”

“Because if he were to reward the good, they would become wicked.”

“Yes, father. So what is the third thing?”

“The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do.”

“Why is this father, should we not do the right thing?”

“Well my son. Who knows what is good.”

“Why God knows good.”

“And is there any god other than God?”

“No father. There is no god but God.”

“So does anyone other than God know good?”

“No, they must not.”

“And does God what you presuming on his work?”

“No, that would be too proud.”

“So do the wrong thing, or God will know you want to try and trick him.”

“Yes Father. And what is the last thing?”

“As long as I live, never come back to this house.”

And he sent Salim away, with tears in his eyes. By this I mean both the father and the son were crying, because to dangle a modifier is a sin before the eyes of editor, and reader.

But that very week, a horrible plague struck the town, and all in the house Salim had been born in would perish. It seemed the grain had been poisoned. So Salim was sent back to town, as he was now head of the family.

When he got to the doorstep, a solicitor was there. The solicitor said to Salim, “Here is the money from the Chinese merchant. He has married a new and pretty wife, and could never have done so as long as the old and ugly one lived. He gives your father this in token of gratitude.”

Salim took the money.

God is good! God is great! There is no God but God! So, concluded Salim, best not to play God.
The next day the Madame came back, and asked if there were girls who had been trained as she had asked. Salim was so angry that he hit her over and over again, until she cried.

“Why did you do this to me?”

“If you want me to hit women, so I hit you. I do unto others as they do unto others.”

The Madame was startled and reached enlightenment.

“What is your name?”

“My name is Salim, and I am now the man of this house, what my father owned, I own.”

“So Salim, you will need to marry.”

“Yes, I will.”

“So Salim, let me be your marriage broker. I will find you four wives. Just name what you want.”
Salim did not know what wives are for. He knew from the farm that bulls studded heifers, and he new that hogs humped sows. He knew that roosters rubbed chickens. And this was important because they had children. But at the farm, people ate all the children. He didn't want to eat his children. But being afraid, he did not say anything.

“Come back in a year, and I will choose my first wife.”

“God wills it! God is good! God is Great! There is no God but God!”

But God has big gonads, if he wants all of the faithful to have wives, and some to have four.
And so Salim came into possession of the house, and he promised, that unlike his father, he would always try to do the right thing, because he thought that the right thing to do is the right thing to do.
The next day the Arabs came back, and demanded more of the first sand. Salim was puzzled, and so the Arabs told him how they had acquired the very last sand his father had had, and it had turned green when blow. They wanted that sand.

Salim thought and remembered that when he had pissed in the sand, the piss had been green. He remembered that he had been so sick, that he shat on the floor. The shit had been green. So he guessed that the way to make the special sand, had to be to buy bad grain.

“I will work on it, come back in a week.”

So Salim went and bought a little grain from everyplace that sold grain. He was almost done, but he went to the wharf. There was grain that was green and smelled foul. It was the grain that was supposed to go to charity, for feeding the poor. The city fathers knew that anyone eating the grain would get sick, and so they hoped it would reduce the number of poor. He could not buy it, not any or all of it. So he broke in that night, and stole it. He only ate a little, only enough to make himself sick. He pissed green, he staggered, and he shat green. So he pissed in the sand, and when the Arabs came back, they bought it.

But he felt guilty and so he donated the good grain in the place of the bad grain.

Later, a letter arrived:
“Allah be praised! This is the green sand! We can come back every month to buy more!”
And so this is how the young Salim made his money. Every month he would go down, steal the bad grain, and then donate good grain in its place. What this meant was that the poor became healthy, and other poor flocked to the town. The city fathers were outraged. “Who did the right thing?” They put a reward out on anyone who fed the poor.

This will be important later, because God is good. God is great. And so God hates the ungrateful.

This went on for 11 months. But of course, then came Ramadan, and he had to write the Arabs that there would be no special sand this month. They never came back.

Salim was puzzled. The Prophet had said that God wants what is easy from you. What is easier than pissing for your living? The Prophet had said that God demands that you fast during the Holy Month. What could be clearer? And yet, because he had followed the commandment of Ramadan, he had lost his easy livelihood. Perhaps the right thing to do was the wrong thing to do. Or perhaps he had angered God in some other way.

And so he decided that next Ramadan, he should make the Hajj, and cleanse himself before the black rock. He had enough money to do this.

God is Good. God is Great. But remember, God is in on the gag.

The next day a man was caught breaking into the charity house, with sacks of grain. He was a well-known thief, and before he was even brought to trial a confession was beaten out of him. He said he had noticed that someone was stealing the bad grain, and returning good grain, so he wanted to get there first, and sell the bad grain to whoever was buying it. He accused Salim.

Now the town fathers thought, “If he did it once, why not all the other times?” They didn't mind feeding the poor; it was keeping the poor alive, that was the problem. So they told the judge that confession notwithstanding, the thief was to be hung.

Salim heard of this, and he was terribly afraid, so he did not come forward. The thief was sentenced to be hung, and Salim was grateful that he had not come forward. On the day that the hanging was supposed to happen, an inspector of the new government came through. The new government was of the Congress Party, and so wanted to get rid of superstition, corruption, and unjust persecution. He asked who was supposed to be hung, and was told it was a thief of a lower caste. When he asked the crime, he was told that it was for breaking into the poor house to give grain. This angered the inspector greatly, who ordered the man be let go, reasoning that even if he had stolen grain, it was out of need.
He interviewed the thief, and was told about how the poison grain disappeared, and the good grain appeared. So the inspector had the town fathers investigated, and replaced with more humane officials. The word of this got round, and the poor flocked to the town, and soon the town was clogged with poor, utterly clogged with them. No one could go to the center to buy or sell anything, and the business was nearly choked off.

So it was, when snap elections were called, that the Congress Party lost the state since every shop owner turned out to prevent the spread of charity and justice.

So it came to happen that soon the poor were being fed poisoned grain again, and the streets were clear. But it was better than before, because the poor got sick and the wells were fouled as well, and even many of the poor who had houses died. This was even better still, for there was a huge boom in work for grave diggers and others who dispose of the dead, so the working poor were astonished at their turn of fortune. So they too supported the new government.

The new government took credit for this, and promptly lost the next national election, because word had gotten round about their Utter Prudish Miracle, and the poor turned out in droves to prevent such a miracle from happening in all of India.

God is good! God is Great! But remember the next time you vote, that God is Just.

Trust me.

This because once the boom was over, there was not to be found a laborer anywhere. No houses could be built, because there was no one to carry the sand or the stones, no fields were tilled or harvested, no garbage picked up. After the next harvest failed, there was another terrible famine in Udder Prudish. The rest of India blamed the Congress Party for allowing the people of Udder Prudish to be in such a state, and demanded action. So the Congress Party shipped grain from every other state to save Udder Prudish. However, it was always the poison grain, and there was even more misery. This made matters worse, and just when it seemed that the government was about to fall, a new factory was opened by a group of Arabs. They were making the most marvelous green stained glass, and selling it for a very high price. The money that flooded in to Udder Prudish was enough to buy grain from other places, and save the remaining people. The Prime Minister personally said that this was proof of how there were free market solutions to all problems, for this he would be appointed to the head of the International Monetary Fund after he left office, preaching a message that Destruction is Creation, Regulation is Risk, and The Invisible Hand is Slapping You. He became very rich helping the poor in this way.

If there was a lesson, Salim did not heed it, because he remained guilty about not coming forward the rest of his life. And the thief? I should not say too much about him, because he became a distinguished minister in the government, but not for the Congress Party.

So this is the story of the fall and rise of the House of Salim, who then was in the unfortunate position of not knowing how to make a living. He was still a little person, and thought that work was ennobling.

God is Good. God is Great. But remember, God writes his own gags.