We refrain from too much current events here, but the continuing story of the death of Benazir Bhutto has a tiny little comic book connection that adds to the poignancy of it all. If you saw the news this weekend, you’ll recall that Bhutto’s 19-year-old son Bilalwal Zardari has been named the symbolic head of her political party. This reminiscence in the UK Times by her friend Mahnaz Malik reveals Bilawal is one of us:
Bilawal is 19 years old, only a decade my junior, yet I cannot help but think of him as a child. I have always known him as one of Benazir’s three children, for whom she and I drove around London buying Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books.
Malik goes on to say:
I remember him as a shy, bespectacled teenager, often looking after his sisters. He was a film buff and I would struggle to choose a film that he had not seen when we all went to the cinema. Bibi was keen on reading and bought books by the boxful. But she was broadminded enough to realise that teenage tastes can vary. I remember one summer, we spent the entire afternoon at a comic book shop near Russell Square as Bilawal, with his sisters, completed their collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel comic books. Bibi patiently accompanied them.
That store sounds a lot like Gosh! In all the tragedy and tumult of these sad times, the idea of someone whose will find a place in history beside Anwar Sadat, Indira Gandhi and Archduke Francis Ferdinand going to the comics shop to buy comics for her kid is perhaps a fitting one for this day and age.
UPDATE: Bilawal’s comic-book reading ways are now being held against him, along with several other drawbacks:
The call came as supporters of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party expressed dismay at the naming of her 19-year-old, comic book-collecting son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and his allegedly corrupt father, Asif Ali Zardari, as her successors.