Friday, November 12, 2010

Unlikely Superhero

-The follwing story is a work of fiction. All characters and events are a product of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual events is entirely coincidential

I suppose everyone is familiar with the concept of superpowers. We’ve seen enough movies and read enough comic books to know how it works. There are two common explanations for people possessing such powers, either they’re not human and belong to a more developed species, or they’ve been in some horrible accident where they’ve been exposed to radiation or chemicals or something powerful enough to alter their genetic make-up.

I’ve still to figure out which of these categories I fall into. I have been in possession of my power as far back as I can remember, but it’s difficult to tell how I got it. There was one bizarre incident when I was little.

I’m not a very smart man now, so, needless to say, I was no genius at the tender age of two either. My entire day was spent waddling around the room, banging my head into pieces of furniture. For some extra excitement, I would chew on whatever I could fit into my mouth; shoes, crayons, table legs, I’ve chewed them all. So, it was one such action-packed day when I sat behind the television taking in the weather report while happily chomping down on the antenna cable, when the antenna, outside, was struck by lightening. The electricity from the strike travelled down the cable to the television, blew it up, and threw my two-year-old frame across the room. I was lucky to have survived. But this doesn’t really sound like a bizarre enough accident to have given someone superpowers does it?

On the other hand, my superpower isn’t really all that super either. I’m getting quite embarrassed talking about it now. I suppose I should say what it is and get it over with quickly. My superpower is, brace yourself, the ability to forecast the weather. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I can give you all the details. Just pull them out of thin air. The day’s highs and lows, humidity, wind speed, rainfall, pretty much anything you need to know. The time-span of these forecasts diminishes with the distance. So, sitting in Lahore for example, I could give you the weather for this city for the next four days, but for Islamabad it would be the next three days, and barely twenty-four hours for Karachi.

So was it due to the weather report on television that I got this skill, or are my parents aliens? I couldn’t really say. I mean they’ve never mentioned it, how would you know?

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered I had this gift. I was somewhere in my early teens, and was ecstatic at being gifted at something. I figured I could be something great with a skill like this, if only I could figure how to use it properly.

You can also imagine my disappointment in my later teens when I discovered how utterly useless this gift was. There wasn’t much crime-fighting to be done just by predicting the weather. There wasn’t much money to be made either. To be honest, modern technology really killed off any potential I may have had. In another time, I could have been a god or a messiah of some sort. I could have blessed generals and emperors with knowledge of what the future would bring. For all I know, soothsayers of ancient times were actually people like me. Today, of course, we live in the age of the weather report. I used to stare in horror and disgust as smug, smiley men and women graced my television screen with predictions they had made using their machines. These hacks who think they are doing me a favour. I don’t need your bloody forecasts; I already know what the weather is going to be like. I am the chosen one!

Like a lot of other things in my life, this anger also left me. I had barely scraped through college, and with few options open to someone as devoid of talent as myself, I was facing tough times. The trouble isn’t just that I lack talent. The trouble is the coupling of this disability with my crippling laziness. I really can’t imagine working hard at a job. So, I did the one thing that seemed logical. I sold my soul and went over to the dark side; I became a meteorologist. Now it’s my smug. smiley face on television that tells people what weather awaits them. I get to do nothing all day and just turn up for the bulletins. I don’t need to prepare, obviously, so I have absolutely nothing to do.

Given my lethargic disposition, I am living the dream - getting paid, decently enough, for showing up in front of a screen and saying things from memory. Sometimes the machines get it wrong, and we have a mismatch between what I’m saying and what’s on the screen. At these times I act all worked up about the incompetence of the guys running the screens, and bask in my brilliance the next day when I am proved right.

It’s a nice existence, but sometimes I do wonder about what could have been. If there had actually been some awesome application to this skill. I even have a superhero costume, hanging in the back of my closet. Sometimes, late at night, I get it out and dress up while watching television. I narrate my own background story.

“Iqbal Jameel, by day he’s a mild-mannered weatherman, but when night falls, he becomes… Weatherman!”

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