bdul Rasheed was one of the best plumbers in Lahore. Yet, he didn’t want his children to take on his profession. ‘Najma! The son of a plumber should never become a plumber!’ he would often tell his pregnant wife.
But now that the child had finally arrived, there were other important issues at hand. They had to name the kid. They also had to get him circumcised and invite all the neighbors and relatives to celebrate the event.
‘He is six days, 2 hours and 17 minutes old’, Abdul Rasheed whispered into his friend’s left ear, while they were sitting in the Eid-Gah, listening to the Maulvi’s sermon.
Abdul Rasheed always found the sermons prior to the prayers, boring. He could never fathom why Allah would want every good Muslim in the world to learn Arabic. After all, the noble Quran is written in Arabic, the Friday prayers and Eid Sermons are conducted in Arabic; one had to offer prayers in Arabic and even a person’s funeral rites must be offered in Arabic.
Besides a few words, Abdul Rasheed didn’t really understand Arabic and that was a serious cause of concern for him. More so, because he was told by the maulvi that on the Day of Judgment, Arabic would be God’s official language. Just like English was Pakistan’s official language.
The state of Pakistan claims Urdu to be Pakistan’s official language, but Abdul Rasheed knew that if one could converse in English, he could claim a distinct advantage over the ones who could only converse in Urdu, or worse, Punjabi.
Distressed by the thought, he nudged his friend and whispered again: “Bhai Naeem, I think junior must learn Arabic as well as English. Arabic is God’s language and English is language of all the learned people’. Before Naeem could muster a response, the Maulvi signaled the start of the Eid prayers.
‘Allah O’ Akbar!, Abdul Rasheed smiled and stood up with a broad smile, pulling his shalwar above his ankles.
‘Allah has testified! Junior must learn Arabic and English!’ he said to himself.
After the prayers were over, Abdul Rasheed took his time, exchanging Eid greetings with his friends. He had bought a new shalwar qameez for the occasion, which many of his friends couldn’t afford this year. He had also bought a new red dress and a set of golden glass bangles for his wife. For junior he had bought a rather expensive shalwar kurta, exactly like Mian Iftikhar’s son wore last Eid.
Mian Iftikhar was a grade 18, government officer and Abdul Rasheed’s most affluent and influential client. While having casual conversations with friends, Abdul Rasheed often bragged about his friendship with Mian Iftikhar. It was true that Abdul Rasheed had known Mian Iftikhar for years; however, deep inside he knew that the only relationship that existed between them was that of awe.
Abdul Rasheed admired a man like Mian Ifthikar. He could converse in English, wore the most gorgeous looking suits and ties, and smoked foreign cigarettes. Sometimes, though Abdul Rasheed wondered as how Mian Ifthikar was able to make such a fortune out of a job that hardly paid 35 thousand rupees a month. It had only been 5 years since Mian Iftikhar was promoted to the grade 18 job. Only 5 years ago, he lived an ordinary man’s life but now he had a large car, a hefty bank account and a palace to live in. Not to mention, his children attended the best of schools, where they taught how to converse in English.
It doesn’t matter how he got there but Mian Iftikhar is a true ‘officer’, thought Abdul Rasheed. He wanted junior to be like that; arrogant, powerful, a bit ruthless and surely fluent in English.
‘That is it!’, Abdul Rasheed squealed, as he made his way to his bicycle, outside the Eid-gah.
I want to name junior, ‘afsar’ (officer). He is destined to be an officer like Mian Iftikhar.
With an odd euphoric gait, Abdul Rasheed approached his bicycle that stood tied with a fence that bared the Eid-gah. He stooped a little to unlock the hind tyre of the bicycle. It clicked open with a rustic sound.
Abdul Rasheed had not completely removed the lock, when a speeding car, whizzed past him over a puddle, splashing last night’s rain water all over his new clothes.
As Abdul Rasheed watched the car scoot off, he shouted:
“That is why I do not want my son to be a plumber!”