Pathaan

[ This is a work of fiction & 99.99 percent of fiction is inspired from real life.]

Pathaan, as everyone called him, was working in Dubai for 28 years. He visited his home for 30 days after every 2 years of service. He was a labour in a foodstuff company. I don’t remember when we first got in touch, but he gave a broad smile, shook hand with full strength and sometimes even hugged me when he saw me coming. He was not aware that his sweat drenched my shirt and left his body smell on it with which I had to survive the rest of the day.

He called me ‘Dost’ I called him….nothing! I never addressed him by any name. Some of the days, when I would go for lunch, he used to stop me, forcing me to have lunch with him, which I never had, because I didn’t want to. I tried to ignore him most of the time, but he used to stop at his place, look at me and give a broad smile every time he met me.

“How are you dost?” he asked once and further inquired about the well-being of my family.

I was happy that day when he asked about whether I was married or not, I showed him the picture of my daughter, 12 days old. He advised me to bring my family to Dubai and live with them.

“Dost, living with your family is a blessing. I wish someday your family comes here and you spend time with them. You will feel at peace.” He always advised when I stopped by to just have a small talk because of that smile which could not be ignored.

“Let us have tea together! Come, I will pay for you as well!” He said one day.

I laughed and said, “Are you trying to tell me that I cannot pay for my cup of tea?”

“No dost! May Allah forgive me, I heartily want to pay for you, if you don’t mind.”

“Not now, I have to meet someone. I’ll come later in the evening okay?”

“You never come dost! You always promise, but you never keep it.”

“Hey, I did not promise anything to you. But I will try my best. There is a lot of work these days actually.” I said to avoid him and get going to the office where boredom was waiting for me. I had nothing to do except logging in to social networking sites and keep reading about the lives of those whom I didn’t know at all on the personal level.

Pathaan came to Dubai when this city was nothing more than a piece of land filled with sand. Merchant ships used to dock in the outskirts of the city and he used to pull his cart for 4-5 kilometers to deliver goods to the ships. He was earning a meagre amount of 1500 dirham per month ($400.00) which is a quarter of my salary. I was working in Dubai for the last 3 years I came across several people like Pathaan who spent their lives living away from their families.

Pathaan was still thankful that his family gets enough food 3 times a day and his kids studied in a good school in Pakistan. He had plans to bring his son to Dubai and get him a good job.

“Dost, will you help me? You must be knowing important people in big companies. I have seen you talking with so many big people in the market. Those people won’t ever talk to me or consider my son. Will you recommend my son to them when he comes here for the interviews?” He asked one evening. I could see all the hope of the world in his eyes at that very moment.

“I will try my best. Send him to my office with all his documents and I will try to fix him up somewhere.” I replied in a straight tone.

“Thank you Dost. I will send him to you definitely. Please help him to get him a job like yours!”

“Yes, I will try.”

———————————————

Many days passed and I had completely forgotten about Pathaan and his son. Life was very busy and it was natural for anyone to lose track of things in a while. I did not see him in the market and I was not aware of his absence as well. Every time I walked in front of the shop where he worked, I hoped he would not call my name and he did not. I was ignoring him continuously and successfully.

About 3 months later, I received a call. The man on the other side told that his name was Arif and he was the son of one Abdul Gaffar.

“I am sorry I do not know anyone with this name.” I replied.

“Sir jee, what is your name?” the man on the other side asked.

“Why are you asking my name? I do not know you, I don’t want to share my personal details with you.”

“Sir jee, my father said you will help me.”

“Who is your father?”

“Abdul Gaffar.”

“Look dear, I don’t know anyone with that name. I think you have dialled a wrong number.”

“No sir jee, I have dialled the right number. Your number is written in my father’s contact book.”

“Then he must have written my name as well! Right?” I said angrily.

“No sir jee. There is no name, he has written only ‘Dost’.”

Pathaan’s smiling face flashed before my eyes instantly.

“Oh! Ok, I understood. I didn’t know your father’s name. So when did you come to Dubai?”

“I came last week.”

“Hmm, he said he will let me know when you come here. Did you get a job or not? Visit me someday in my office, bring all your documents, I will try to fix up few interviews for you. What did you say your name was?”

“Arif, sir jee.”

“Yes, Arif. Allright, I am a little busy now. You give me a call before you come. I will let you know my office location.

“Ok, sir jee.”

———————————————————-

It was shattering to know that Pathaan was no more. He died in the Air Blue plane crash in Islamabad few weeks ago. He was going home after 6  years this time for a longer vacation of 3 months. His family was devastated with the loss. After weeks of mourning, his son, Arif, decided to come to Dubai and seek a compensation from the company in which his father worked all his life.

As most companies do, the bosses showed a cold response, parting away from the death stating he did not met with the accident while working for them. He was officially on vacation and the company was not responsible for whatever happens to a person while he is off duty. Though they expressed their grief, but it was not enough.

Arif knew some friends of his father. He met with them and they took him to the room where his father lived most of his life. It was there, he found his father’s contact diary and while going through it, he came across my number. His father mentioned me to him several times over the phone and Arif was hopeful that I might help him someway or the other.

Pathaan’s smiling face kept flashing before my eyes continuously. It was just like yesterday when he was pulling his cart, loading goods in the vehicle for the day’s supplies to restaurants and hotels. He did the same job everyday for 28 years, with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement. Whereas people like me get bored of fixed income jobs in a few months and seek better opportunities to switch and earn more money. Pathaan knew his worth and he was satisfied with whatever he was doing with his life. I had bigger expectations from my life and was constantly looking for the means to progress and reach the next level.

I wanted to help Arif but new workers were paid less salaries everywhere and considering the situation he was in, he needed to start earning handsome amount of money very soon. Arif was a Commerce graduate and had good knowledge of his work. All he needed was a start and he was talented enough to make a place for himself. He knew the business basics and with someone like him, there were always better opportunities. The only problem was his freshness in the country. He was just days old and he was competing with the experienced ones who knew the way of work regardless of their educational drawback.

I referred him for the bank interviews, insurance companies, sent him to my friends in automobile companies, even posted his resumein the best hotels in town but Arif did not get selected. I never asked him the reason for his failure, but continuously pushed him to attend more interviews next week, but all in vain.

His failure was beginning to get on my nerves as I considered myself responsible for not working out for him when his father asked for my help. Had I acted upon it that time, I would have cemented a better place for his son. He was on a visit visa which meant he could only stay in the country only for 30 days and had to return to Pakistan if he could not find a job during this period.

————————————————-

“Sir jee, I have to go back to Pakistan next week. But, if you find any suitable job for me, please confirm my availability to the company. I have decided I do not want a good job. I will say yes to any job that comes my way.” Arif said to me that day after he was, once again, not selected for a job for one of the reputed banks in UAE.

That night, I lay awake, checked my watch several times and when it struck 7 am, I got ready and left for office. I kept thinking about Arif, his father, his family, the chronology of events that took place in his life. For once, I began thinking what would I do if I were in his shoes. The answer was very simple & straightforward. I would go angry on the world. I would start hating the world to such an extent that I would not care about anyone else’s happiness or sadness, gains or losses.

The company his father worked for, shed hands over his death. The part of world where his father lived all his life, was not accepting Arif as one of its own. The only friend his father hoped would help him, failed to get him a suitable job.

“Please help him to get a job like yours!”  Pathaan had asked for help while looking straight into my eyes, smiling.

I reached office and sat in front of my computer. It had a display picture of a rose, with a honeybee sucking honey from it. I kept looking at the picture for a very long moment. A sudden realisation struck me at that moment. At one time, we were all roses. We were tender, full of fragrance, knew nothing of pain or death and then as we grew up, we started to work. We flourished and as we flourished, the world noticed us, honeybees started to hover on us. The honeybees sucked all the sweetness from us and left us with an emptied, dissatisfied & ruthless attitude. Now, honeybees had the honey, they had all the sweetness and we wanted to be like them. We wanted our honey back but did not know the way. There was no way. Fragrance of life, once lost, is difficult to get back.

After I was done with the picture, I opened Microsoft Word and started typing.

Dear Sir,

This is to inform you that I have decided to resign from my current position of Manager in this company. It has been a tough decision to take but I feel this is the right time for me to move ahead and make place for a deserving candidate for this post. I have really enjoyed the period I worked here and this company is the main reason that I have bigger dreams today, which have forced me to choose a new venture.

I hereby submit my immediate resignation.

Wishing the company success and a prospering future.

Best Regards

I signed the resignation, placed it on boss’s table and left the office.

On my way back to home, I called up Arif and said, “Let’s face the interviews, together. I will get you a job like mine.”

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