Razi's wandering feet, shifting eyes -- indeed his entire body language was cut out for the guiles of Rawalpindi. This bright young man, once my student, was haunted by the mortal fear of being kept away from the attractions of the city if he found work outside Islamabad.
Last Sunday, I was loafing on the grounds of Ayub National Park flexing my tired back and stiff knees. The hawk-eyed Shahzada (his nickname) sighted me from a distance, and decided not to avoid me this time. He smiled disarmingly and asked anxiously: "How's your stomach, sir?" "Not too bad, dear." "How's your knee, sir?" "It is alright, boy." "Oh, that's very good sir, very good!" I quickly realized that Shahzada was trying to keep the conversation focused firmly on my health. Just to pre-empt me from reminding him of an unpleasant task like finding a job. "Sir, I shall meet you in five minutes. I have to make an urgent phone call." "Regarding an interview or something?” I acquiesced but he continued speaking. "Well sir, actually, I just have to communicate my acceptance," he smiled briefly and walked away.
Minutes later, when Shahzada returned there was a light tune on his lips and a proverbial spring in his step. "Thank God, sir, it's all settled now." I congratulated him warmly, lectured how perseverance always paid, and took him for a cup of tea nearby. "The thing is, sir, my friend Haider has come here on a holiday from the States. He thinks, I should start working now. Even you have been persuading me to do so. After all, what is the harm in working, sir?" "No harm, at all!" "So sir, Haider wants me to be his agent in Rawalpindi. I shall collect garments here and export to his company in the States." "But how will you manage all this?" Razi flashed a broad, knowing smile. "That's a good question, sir. I need a spacious office with computers, fax, etc. and, of course, efficient staff. In fact, I want to recruit straightaway. Sir, you must help me in this. Please send me some hardworking boys and girls. Oh, I'll pay them well. The initial capital, just a few lakhs, can be raised easily." "Where? On this Ayub National Park itself?" "Oh, come on sir! You know I have a big circle of friends. I want to start working on this project right away. I should also spot some talented youngsters, immediately." He rose, allowing me to take care of the bill.
That's when I got alarmed. Was Razi casting his net of idle fantasies on other Shahzadas of Rawalpindi? Has this unemployed young fellow already become unemployable?