A short story of sorts

I AM writing a short story these days for which I cannot decide the ending. It concerns a very rich man who owns a large plot of land in a residential area. This man comes back from abroad one day and finds that the plot of land has been occupied by a land-grabber.

The owner approaches the court and provides documents in support of his claim. Before the judge can give a ruling, the land-grabber’s attorney, a short, corpulent lawyer, says: “Your Honour, it is true that my client does not own the land in question. But his motive is pure. He is a deeply religious man who got his sons educated in seminaries, and got all his daughters married before they attained the age of 12-13.

“He is deeply worried about how much our younger generation is influenced by the conspiracy of the Western powers to wean our youth away from Islam. So he wants to build a huge Islamic centre where the young people of the area can learn the fundamentals of Islam and can then teach others.

“As for the owner of the plot, he is just like one of those who have succumbed to the teachings of non-Muslims; he spends his days and nights in places of leisure whenever he is in the country; his children have been educated in missionary schools run by Christians, and his daughters wear Western clothing. This man does not deserve to own this land. In fact, he should be deprived of it. I request Your Honour to rule in favour of my client”.

My dilemma is this: should the judge agree and award the land to the land-grabber? If he does so, would it be in accordance with the laws? More importantly, in the context of the short story, will the audience be comfortable with such a verdict?

Shakir Lakhani

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2022