A hellish gadget
“If you while away your day, you are either a thief or a politician. A third option, better than the two, is also available. Please visit us to avail it”.
A bizarre ad – but ads must be bizarre, or they will be more bothersome than statements of government officials.
Amar Aleem aka Aami got up at 11 am, and like every living soul under the heaven, checked his mobile phone inbox. This nonsensical message was inviting his eyes on the screen. In the meantime, he had come in the radar of his mother who in her mother tongue was lambasting all those who had even the remotest relation with this hellish gadget, called mobile phone, i.e. its invention, sale, purchase etc., but the ultimate, and the most sarcastic attack was unleashed on Aami, the ready-made target at hand like many of his jobless fellows in their respective homes.
Prevention is better than cure
If you are jobless, then leave your bed sooner than your parents do. It may not solve your problems but admonitions, whose fair share you are doomed to receive, will lose their immediate cutting-edge effect. If you evade it, remaining part is just a routine. After this sane advice of a senior fellow, also graduate and thereby jobless, Aami started offering prayers regularly. To stem more tides, he frequently talked about the transitory nature of the world, mysticism and blessings of the life hereafter. ‘Hermitage is better than this heritage’, he used to say in a gloomy tone, heaving as many sighs as possible. The reference to Maulana Tariq Jameel was also an effective ploy. But at the end of the day, these maneuverings may blunt the scathe, but they can’t change the ‘status quo’ – that is joblessness after graduation.
A fiery spirit unleashed
After graduation, Aami typed a sensational application for job. Actually he copied it from a website, but modified it for his present needs. The opening lines of the application challenged the entire idle system of the universe, threatening to shake it at the first available chance. Warning was solid enough: “I am jumping into the fray to claim my rightful status, stop if you can.” Idlers should retreat now that an extremely hardworking, talented, and enlightened gallant had emerged on the scene: Keen to cut all the mustard in one blow, committed to catch the black swan from the lower branch of next door mulberry tree, and the soul of the slogan, ‘Zalmo, Aami aa raha hey’, was his battle call. Sky was his minimum limit….though the job he was applying for was worth only Rs 20,000 per month. Poor sky was needlessly poked in.
Wonderful schooling, excellent results
During school days, Aami was blessed with highly able teachers. In fact, this country is full of such able teachers. In matriculation, he got admission in a school but it was a formality. For studies, he joined an academy ‘Galaxy of Knowledge’, opened by a cartel of his four main teachers who taught math, physics, chemistry and English. Their notes were excellent. All objective type questions were aptly answered. He joined a thorough test session and memorized them to his satisfaction. Then he did his F.Sc. in the same manner. Notes and test sessions, and then proper guess at the eleventh hour, some random accessories in the examination center. He passed, securing reasonable marks, but he couldn’t get admission in medical or engineering college. It seemed the end of his educational life. Most of our students think nothing beyond these two professions. Now his career expectancy was in tatters.
BA is a child’s play
Here Sir Hameed came like an angel of mercy, bringing him out of the woods. He was an English teacher. He convinced him to do BA which could open many paths for him. He could become a lawyer as he was physically well-built, having a good nick of martial arts. Sir Hameed was really a phenomenon of education. He had prepared an essay which could be written for any topic. The same modus operandi was applied for letters, idioms, dialogues and even précis writing. For paper A, he had written one-answer-one-lesson based notes. All poems, short stories, plays and modern prose was made-easy for students. The novel, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ may be a masterpiece of literature but Sir Hameed summed it up in a one-page summary in such a way that tough-guy Hemingway should be turning in his grave. In short, Aami passed BA in second division. His education span, like most of the students, from Matric to BA completed without reading a single book. His parents had never allowed him to read any extra-curricular books, as they would spoil the character. And his teachers had freed him from reading syllabus books. Now this bookless graduate could do Master and M. Phil in the same way. PhD research and thesis could be downloaded.
Response to Ad
Aami noted the address given on the ad and reached there. Written tests and interviews always vexed him. He felt sorry for the lack of insight of these bosses who were running big companies but failed to judge talent. He entered the office, his file stylishly held in his hand, walking with confident steps, a smart aleck, but nervy and worried inwardly.
His documents were seen. The manager called him in. Atmosphere was quite friendly. He was the only candidate called for the test and interview. He was given topics: music, soil, water, money, life to write on them in fifteen minutes. He tried to write on life but could write barely three sentences. He abused Sir Hameed and his magic essay which helped him get through then but now had fallen flat. He was asked for interview that was a hellish experience. Things were very easy, about everyday life, but he was all at sea.
Eureka! He was selected
He was shown the result.
“You can’t write a single line in correct English. You don’t know the kind of mangoes grown in your country. You can’t name the kinds of rice presented before you. You don’t know what kinds of soil are needed for various kinds of crop. Your canal system, your cotton market, your music and its kinds, even Urdu poetry and other kinds of literature are Greek to you.” He was asked many simple things of everyday life but he didn’t know how to think and respond. In the end, he was told that they were looking forward to such a young man who lived a life of idyllic ignorance, a specimen of our graduation system. He was told that there could be countless like him to rival him, and he agreed to this point frankly. However, he was selected on a fairly handsome pay which surprised him.
He was taken before the big boss, and after signing some papers, he was on duty. He was taken in a room that looked like a control room or news room of a media house. All walls were covered with screens which were showing various scenes of the city. He looked at the manager quizzically. The manager smiled and motioned him to wait. He was made to sit on a chair.
‘This is your disciple, teach him’, the manager addressed the man, pointing towards Amar Aleem. ‘So Mr Aleem, sit here and learn the task. It is your apprenticeship, but it will not last more than one week. You need to learn quickly. I am sure you do, because you have all the required qualities’, said the manager and departed.
In the office, a person was sitting in a glass cabin. He seemed to be the controller. But for what? Amar was unable to understand. Six men were working in the room, all fixed their eyes on the screens. One of them said, ‘Point number ten is going slow, take out some staff from there’.
‘Noted’, was the response from another. ‘Field manger number 10, remove three staffers from the point and shift to the point number 4.’
Such directions were being given and followed in a mechanical way. In the meantime, Big Boss entered the room. No one responded; all kept on working. ‘All things are going very well. Collection is satisfactory. But we need to open a new point at this crossing’, an operator pointed towards a traffic signal in some part of the city.’
‘Ok’, said the Boss. ‘I have asked Zaman to arrange more staff, and he may have done so’. Then the Boss called someone for supply of ‘goods’ and promise was obliged. All the things were happening mechanically. A screen was showing some digits, which were changing. They were six digits which were going up.
Apt and apropos
Within one week, Amar understood the job. He was shocked in the beginning but the pay and nature of job was appropriate for him… and like him many others. Within one week, he was expert in the task. It was really a job correspondent to his talent… the talent which was infused and polished by his education system and society. His eyes were fixed on the screen. That control room was equipped with latest communication system. All mosques, markets, bus stops, hospitals, traffic signals, parks, some typical streets etc were before their eyes. Their staffers were working. It was a very thriving business. The only mess was created by some civil society organizations which were making unnecessary hue and cry on abduction of children from various parts of the country, and increasing number of baggers in cities. But their fuss could make no dent. The Boss could move his teams on social media to curb civil society, accusing one or two prominent members of treason or profanity or some other serious crime. All high and mighty were receiving their due share. Last week, a high official of interior ministry was sent two million rupees. A packet of half million for local inspector was ready to be dispatched. Everything was happening according to rules and regulations. There was no cheating. In the warehouse, newly abducted children were ‘treated’ before being sent to job. Their wounds were properly looked after. The Boss was really very kind. After all, they were the staffers, begging at various places, booked and watched. Hi-tech begging cartel was thriving. Aami was a part of it. It was beggar’s choice, but very appropriate one.
Note: Names used in the feature are fictitious. Any similarity will be unintended.
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