Discuss the prose style of Tariq Rahman as a short story writer.

Tariq Rahman is a well-known academic and critic. He is also a short story writer. His Work and Other Short Stories consists of a selection of stories, which were published, in his three previous collections. He has also written a short, but pertinent preface, which reveals that he wrote his first short story at the age of nineteen and which describes his gestation as an English language writer. He says that at first, he was strongly influenced by Maupassant and Oscar Wilde, but his desire to write about Pakistan, not distant European societies, led him to an exploration of Urdu literature and the social realism of Munshi Premchand and the Progressive Writers Movement, before he found his own voice.

 Selected Stories follows Tariq Rahman’s development as a writer. Inevitably, the second half of the book is more assured and more rewarding. Many of the early stories are curious by today’s standards. Some have no sense of Pakistan as a location, employ English names and are set in the distant past or the distant future. However, these are of academic interest for that very reason. They reveal the difficulty that so many English language writers of South Asian origin have faced, before South Asian English literature became as ubiquitous as it is today: How to tell stories in English, when all the English books you read neither described nor provided any space for the real world you inhabited?

As a young man, Tariq Rahman clearly tried to tackle this by exploring universalist themes about the human condition. His stories, such as “The Work” shows the mechanical routine of money needy workers; while “Bingo” and “Moustache” are set in the distant past, where men battle for survival against the odds of life comic or tragic. Several stories, including “Transfiguration” about a corrupt priest, are written within the social and religious parameters of classical English literature and are set in a nameless European setting in a pre-industrial era.

These stories dwell on themes of sexual repression, social hypocrisy and social iniquity and provide interesting parallels with the similar subjects that Tariq Rahman explores in his stories about Pakistan, in the rest of the book.
Tariq Rahman’s “European” stories also serve as a reminder that many conflicts so often perceived today as a cultural clash between the East and the West are nothing of the kind. They mark the tensions between traditional rural societies and the advance of industrialization. At the same time, unlike Europe, South Asians have inherited an Anglicized ruling class created by their erstwhile colonial rulers, which has widened the social and communication gaps.

An early story “Bingo”, written in the mid-1970’s, was the first work of fiction in Pakistani English Literature, to focus on the 1971 war. The tale revolves around the relationship between the West Pakistani narrator, Safeer, and his friend Tajassur, from East Pakistan. Both are in the military academy together and are posted as junior officers to Dhaka on the eve of the civil war, with tragic consequences. The story makes a telling comment on how a blinkered reading of colonial history has shaped the perceptions and institutions of Pakistan’s ruling elite.

In a later, more accomplished story, “Mai Baap”, about the Bengal famine during the British Raj, Rahman shows very clearly how Khaled Khan, an ambitious, Cambridge-educated young Indian in that elite colonial corps, the Indian Civil Service, echoes the contemptuous attitudes of his British superiors, when he is posted to Bengal and finds himself surrounded by starving people clamouring for food.

The indifference and revulsion that the British Raj and its echelons demonstrate towards the poor and wretched in “Mai Baap” is reflected in the attitudes of Rahman’s many characters depicting Pakistan’s ruling elite. “Animals” looks at the dehumanization of rural society, under the onslaught of progress, and revolves around government appropriation of scenic mountain land. There, the “sahib” who stays at the Dak Bungalow, is as alien to the local inhabitants as were the Englishmen he emulates.

Whereas “Game” revolves around some cadets who decide to teach a group of village boys a lesson, for having the audacity to play on land, to which they assume, erroneously, they have the sole right. This story provides a chilling insight into the in-built fascism, which runs through Pakistan’s class-riven society, while “The Inquisitors” reveals how easily innocent children can be manipulated and turned into monsters. The plot revolves around a group of small children, who are trained, or rather brainwashed, by an uncle, to be worthy of his great hero, Quaid-i-Azam, through secret outdoor games involving slogans and endurance tests. Tellingly, in most of these stories, the liberal voice of protest exists, but remains largely ineffectual.
Tariq Rahman once served in the Pakistani Army and some of the best stories in this collection describe different aspects of military life. He also describes lives village people and peasants, with great sensitivity and shows the desperate circumstances in which they try to eke out a living as best they can.

“The Lead Gatherer” is poignant portrait of a young boy, who lives near a military camp and gathers metallic fragments to sell, until one day, he picks up a grenade.

A few stories such as “The Dance of the Beards” look at the feudal structure of rural society, while the “The Moustache” tells of a Punjab village, where a luxuriant moustache is considered such a symbol of pride and honour. A myth develops and Dadu’s moustache earned the envy and wrath of the local Chaudhary. A generation later, Dadu’s nephew Shafqat who sports an equally enviable moustache, leaves his home for a job, where his family discovers that neither his height, nor strength nor a moustache, is of any consequence at all.

The quality of the stories in this collection might vary, but they do have a tension that impels the reader forward. They touch upon many disparate lives, to highlight those of the innocent, the downtrodden and the dispossessed, in particular.


Tariq Rahman’s short stories are the stories of Pakistani people. Discuss

Tariq Rahman is a Pakistani storywriter whose very purpose of story writing is to express various emotions and experiences felt by the Pakistani people. His stories are the reflection of Pakistani society to some extent; but it is hard to believe that he completely represents Pakistani society and culture. But Pakistani mindset is to be felt throughout his short stories. It is, however, good enough that he is not influenced by any foreign or western European writer and writes in his own style and content. His writings are original and reflective of his thoughts and experiences in the land of Pakistan. He has not produced many short stories; but the few he has written has been knitted with the soul of Pakistani land and culture.

His characters such as the professor, Tajassur and the narrator in the Work are all Pakistanis with the powers and weaknesses. They speak the language we do; they react to things very much the same way as we do. They are philosophical as well ordinary men. They contemplate and loosely pass over an issue. They have been made from some of the Pakistani people in general.
His themes are Pakistani such as poverty, exploitation, appearances, repressed sexual impulsive, religious extremity and psychological imbalances. His stories, such as “The Work” shows the mechanical routine of money needy workers; while “Bingo” and “Moustache” are set in the distant past, where men battle for survival against the odds of life comic or tragic. Several stories, including “Transfiguration” about a corrupt priest, are written within the social and religious parameters of classical English literature and are set in a nameless European setting in a pre-industrial era. These stories dwell on themes of sexual repression, social hypocrisy and social iniquity and provide interesting parallels with the similar subjects that Tariq Rahman explores in his stories about Pakistan, in the rest of the book.
His style and technique is also Pakistani or to be more exact casual. He has not followed any fictional writer in his art and technique; rather he writers as one writes some type pleasure essays or diaries. He rests more on linguistic and stylistic aspect of language as visible in ‘Work’ and Moustache’. For Tariq Rahman content is important; but it does not seem to be so and is entrapped by the stylistic ornateness. Story does not seem to be following its logical path; but is directed towards it by linguistic compulsion. These features also present him as a typical Pakistani writer.
In short, his stories are the stories of Pakistani society, culture and people because they represent the same themes, problems, issues and characters. Poverty is a Pakistani problem is it has been death with by Tariq Rahman, exploitation and corruption are the issues; so they are the themes of Tariq Rahman’s stories. His stories, largely, give the impression of a traditional land like Pakistani. 

Tariq Rahman has a unique style of making familiar characters unfamiliar and unfamiliar the familiar, justify or refute!

Tariq Rahman, the linguist, the critic and the short story writer is a famous and notable writer in Pakistani literature whose main fame in literature is due to his stories rather than his linguistic ideas. Tariq Rahman seems to have observed Pakistani society so closely that he has chosen a handful of characters as epitome of Pakistani culture and present ideology.

His characters are real people from real life in the fictional world made real by him. For example, the narrator of ‘Work’ is like all of us who keep busy with ourselves and spend most of our time observing things and people around commenting on them all the while. The professor in the short story ‘Professor’ has been portrayed in the real setting with real professor-like idiosyncrasies. Tajassur in ‘Bingo’ is both comic and philosophical. Therefore, he has chosen the characters we actually feel.
Tariq’s another quality is his flat portrayal of characters. They do not develop or surprise us or they do not take any U-turn in the narrative. They are flat for a particular span of life like rest of us. The girl in A Friend, however, startles us but she is not round. She is what we can expect from her. This is ironical pattern in the character rather than the rotundity or three-dimensional aspect.
His art of characterization is never distinctly visible from his art of narrative. His characters and narratives go hand in hand. This is so because he presents themes not through the narrative but through the characters. For examples, the theme of irony and labour is reflected though the child and the narrator respectively in the short story ‘Work’. The theme of simplicity, humour, intellect and tragedy is reflected in the character of Tajassur in ‘Bingo’.
In short, Tariq Rahman’s characters do not develop themselves but develop the themes caused by them. They are universal characters and individuals as well as types. They peculiar habits and styles make us laugh, weep and think so that we can change ourselves by the process of evaluation.

Summary: Moustache by Tariq Rahman

“The Moustache” is a very interesting story about the deep-rooted tradition of Punjab namely moustache growing which guarantees manliness of a man. Moustache is a common enough idea; but the way Tariq Rahman treats it makes it every more interesting in its tragic and comic scope. The Moustache tells of a Punjab village, where a luxuriant moustache is considered such a symbol of pride and honor.

A myth develops and Dadu’s moustache earned the envy and wrath of the local Chaudhary. A generation later, Dadu’s nephew Shafqat who sports an equally enviable moustache, leaves his home for a job, where his family discovers that neither his height, nor strength nor a moustache, is of any consequence at all.

The story is very gripping and tells the theme that surfaces are not important in actual realities of life; what matters is the real quality to be possessed by an individual. The appearances are no consequences.

Summary of Moustache
No body talked about moustache and turbans as enthusiastically as in the narrator’s family. Moustaches and turbans were taken to be the pride and honor of a man. Great myths were all about those people whose moustaches were large and twisted upwards.

The piece of the land they cultivated became smaller and smaller and uncultivated, so they had to rest upon the animals. The animals produced less than they ate and instead of working as laborers in their lands where they were owners, they put their gear on the cart and went to another village where they were welcomed openly by Chaudhary.

For some years, there was little talk of moustache and food was the topic that was mostly touched upon. When the narrator was twelve, his cousin Allah Dad who was twenty-two and had beaten every one in the way, had grown moustaches. He drank two big glasses of buttermilk and laughed for no reason while walking through the village and looking at the girls washing clothes in the groves of the village trees. The narrator’s father was happy that at least one man of the family had moustaches and he thanked Allah because he believed that it was because Allah had restored the family’s honor through Dadu; that was his pet name.

Those were the peaceful days and the family members talked about the good moments and there was a gathering of reciting of  Heer Waris Shah. But days are never the same. Dadu’s moustaches were debated by one of the uncles. The narrator’s father used foul language and told every body that Dadu’s moustache should not be cut down because they were not mean workers. They too were Chaudhary. It was actually Jaggu whose face was clean-shaven who was envious of Dadu’s moustache. Jaggu predicted that Dadu’s moustaches would be soon parted. Back at home, Dadu’s mother invoked the blessings of saints on her son. The meeting was over; but the burning jealousy was there.

One day, Dadu took the narrator to a place where he had killed a cobra and suddenly some persons came there and asked Dadu his name and started abusing him and finally beat him and the narrator and cut his moustache and filled his mouth with it. The narrator couldn’t bear the ultra-foul language they were using although he was used to such language. Dadu was on the ground; mercilessly beaten with his moustache gone. Before the men went away, they called them dust and cheap people of the village were not allowed to grow moustache.

Later that day, no body talked about the moustaches. Dadu did not die of that extreme beating; but he did not speak a word until he died after ten years. Then the narrator was sent to school to get education and he became a clerk. He moved out of the village and came to the city where his son was born from Dadu’s sister – the narrator’s cousin. She did not remember when Dadu was beaten; but she remembered the dashing moustache of her brother and the pride associated with it and she told stories of Uncle Dadu to the narrator’s son, Shafqat.

The real Dadu was petty and weak and the mythical Dadu was magnanimous. The narrator never tried to erase the image of Dadu from his son’s mind. When they went to the village, again there was talk of Dadu’s moustache and some even then praised and it and said that Dadu used to apply pure butter on it so it was so healthy. Shafqat wanted to be a soldier and he told the village boys that they could not grow moustache as long as Chaudhary was there in the village.

Shafqat grew in no time and he became muscular and strong with each passing day. He had no moustache or beard and then he joined the college and got recruited with the army. Small wisps of hair starting sprouting on his lips and his mother called him the heir of Dadu due to the moustache. There were luddos and sweets to celebrate his coming of age and army recruitment. When he would wear the uniform, he looked more like a real man and muscular giant equaling Hercules; with his head towering his uncles and father. No body talked about the moustache; although his cousins were impressed by his moustaches.

After graduation when he came back home from army, he had grown fully upright grown moustaches which impressed every one. He was hailed hero in the village and hero-like worshipped.

He looked like a lion in the army and the news of his great moustache spread to other parts as well.  One day his uncle came and asked the narrator to send his son, Shafqat to see Patwari about the issue of a land. Only his moustache will do the job. So they went to meet Shafqat, the soldier told them that he was at the bungalow, when they reached the officer’s bungalow, they found Shafqat working in rooms washing clothes and being abused by a woman. His moustache was barely visible when he was working. The officer who was not as tall as Shafqat and neither had impressive moustache, was ordering around Shafqat; the heir of Legendry, Dadu. Seeing this, they came back home.

Moustache: Critical appreciation

Introduction and Title
Moustache is a short story about the distant past cast by memories. The narrator narrates his experiences as a child and as a grown-up adult regarding village traditions and growing moustache. The growing and lifting up of the moustache is a deep-rooted tradition especially in the realm of Punjab where the absence of which negates the manliness of man. The story is comic and tragic at the same time. the title of the story is apt as moustache is the central issue in the story and is a symbol of pride and honor.
Although the story has been overshadowed by memories, it has a clear-cut plot involving experiences of the village and those of the city. Moustache is the central issue. Dadu whose healthy moustache earns the reputation throughout the village is envied by the Chaudhary of the village who in turn has him severely beaten and his moustache cut. With the moustache gone, the pride and power of the family seems to fall away. For years there is no talk of moustache; but when the narrator’s son, Shafqat grows up into a man and has moustache enjoys the same reputation as did Dadu and then the disillusion follows. The story moves very smoothly and effectively from start to the end and the events and memories are tightly connected.
Main theme
The main theme in the story is that moustache is traditional associated with pride and honor; but pride and honor do not simply arise from physical appearances or outer outlook, there has to be a merit within man. The merit is what actually carries weight in society and not some traditional habit of wearing turban or growing moustache. The quality or status of a person is not to be judged by these measures. One has to go beyond to understand the nature of things.
Symbolic elements in the story
The story is highly symbolic in which moustache symbolizes pride and honor and conventional views about facts of life. The narrator himself and his family give due importance to moustache and it is a heated subject of most of their discussions. We understand that it is due to moustache that Chaudhary punishes Dadu for his up-twisted moustache. Therefore, moustache is a symbol of a typical Pakistani mindset. It also symbolizes tradition and conventional views.
Ironical Patterns
Irony in Moustache is the very heart of the story. Irony is also linked with the theme of appearance and disillusionment in Moustache. Apparently, it is a good idea to grow moustache and be proud of it in the village but this is not the same case in the city where power and status are judged not by moustache, but by the measures of wealth and status. This is evident in the character of Shafqat. When he is introduced in the beginning and also in prime, he is the crown of the family, but towards the end, he is found to be washing dishes like a mean worker in the house of an officer. This disillusions him and his family. Therefore, the pride of moustache which brings honor and glory in the village brings devastation in the city. Ironically, moustache, which entails many legendary traits, fails to achieve results in the city because the people of city are modern.
Tariq Rahman has created a legendary character of Dadu in the story who commands our full attention and that of Shafqat who is no less than the latter. The story shows a typical trait of Tariq Rahman as a writer that he has the knack of creating grand characters and equally well the quality to degenerate them as in the case of Dadu and Shafqat. It is the mythical stature of Dadu which keeps the story gripping. Again here like Bingo, the main themes are not to be sought for in the narrative; but the characters and their descriptions.
Style and Technique
Tariq Rahman’s style in Moustache very enjoying. He has employed simple diction with appropriate phrases to convey the idea. Tariq Rahman has used flashback technique to enhance the impact of distant past and its effects. The character of Dadu has been superimposed throughout the story although he is dead.
In short, Moustache is a very interesting story with the conventional and modern view of village and city respectively. Moustache enjoys an important place in the selection Work and Other Stories. The story catches the spirit of the Pakistani culture and the mindset of it people. They are still fascinated by the idea of turbans, moustache and Ajrak in the 20thc. It is no bad to substantiate our cultural patterns, but we must pace with time. Moustache and Turban do enjoy pride and honor but they do not work in line with the facts of life.

Main Characters – Dadu and Shafqat

Moustache has two main characters that cannot be studied in isolation because they are tightly linked to each other. The mention of one causes the mention of the other. Both the characters start with grander and end with despair. They have a magnificent beginning; but a despairing end. Of the two, Shafqat, is the most impressive and more realistic and Dadu is more legendary and ideal.
Dadu is the first main character to appear in the story. It is due to his moustache that he becomes so prominent and important in the village. He is a strong man with large muscles. He is only twenty-two while he becomes the cock of the village. He speaks casually. He drank two big glasses of buttermilk and laughed for no reason while walking through the village and looking at the girls washing clothes in the groves of the village trees. The narrator’s father was happy that at least one man of the family had moustaches and he thanked Allah because he believed that it was because Allah had restored the family’s honor through Dadu; that was his pet name. The grandness of Dadu is improved when he takes the narrator to the place where he killed a large cobra, but ironically, his grandness is shattered at the same time when the mercenaries of the Village Chaudhary come cut his moustache off after giving him a sever beating. Dadu is no more; he comes silent but remains a legendary character throughout the village history and the narrator’s family.
Shafqat is another important character in the story Moustache. He is fully individualized but is still overshadowed by the qualities of legendary Dadu in some respects. Nonetheless, he is full functional character who has, in turn, also overshadowed Dadu in some respects in the story. He is the second prodigy to bring glory and fame and honor to the family. He studies and joins army and becomes a lion-statured man. His fame reaches as far as his village. People also envy him for qualities as a person and moustache.  His greatness is shattered when he is found to be working in the officer’s house and the illusion created by moustache is disillusioned.


Both Dadu and Shafqat are the two manifestations of one personality in two different situations. Both are tragic figures and fall from high to low. Tariq Rahman has delineated these characters very superbly; especially the character of Dadu is a memorable one from our own culture and tradition. Both the characters are important as far as the theme of the story is concerned because the theme is expressed through them; not the narrative.

"Bingo" a short story by Tariq Rahman

Background to Bingo
A challenge to Pakistan’s unity emerged in East Pakistan when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (“Mujib”), leader of the Awami League, insisted on a federation under which East Pakistan would be virtually independent. He envisaged a federal government that would deal with defense and foreign affairs only; even the currencies would be different, although freely convertible.

Mujib’s program had great appeal for many East Pakistanis, and in the December 1970 election called by Yahya, he won by a landslide in East Pakistan, capturing 160 seats in the National Assembly. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) emerged as the largest party in West Pakistan, capturing 81 seats (predominantly in Punjab and Sindh). This gave the Awami League an absolute majority in the National Assembly, a turn of events that was considered unacceptable by political interests in West Pakistan because of the divided political climate of the country. The Awami League adopted an uncompromising stance, however, and negotiations between the various sides became deadlocked.
Suspecting Mujib of secessionist politics, Yahya in March 1971 postponed indefinitely the convening of the National Assembly. Mujib in return accused Yahya of collusion with Bhutto and established a virtually independent government in East Pakistan. Yahya opened negotiations with Mujib in Dhaka in mid-March, but the effort soon failed. Meanwhile Pakistan’s army went into action against Mujib’s civilian followers, who demanded that East Pakistan become independent as the nation of Bangladesh.
There were many casualties during the ensuing military operations in East Pakistan, as the Pakistani army attacked the poorly armed population. India claimed that nearly 10 million Bengali refugees crossed its borders, and stories of West Pakistani atrocities abounded. The Awami League leaders took refuge in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and established a government in exile. India finally intervened on December 3, 1971, and the Pakistani army surrendered 13 days later. East Pakistan declared its independence as Bangladesh.
Yahya resigned, and on December 20 Bhutto was inaugurated as president and chief martial law administrator of a truncated Pakistan. Mujib became the first prime minister of Bangladesh in January 1972. When the Commonwealth of Nations admitted Bangladesh later that year, Pakistan withdrew its membership, not to return until 1989. However, the Bhutto government gave diplomatic recognition to Bangladesh in 1974.
Introduction to the story
Bingo is a game in which numbered balls are drawn at random and players cover the corresponding numbers on their cards; but here refers to a character Tajassur. He belonged to the East Pakistan; now called Bangladesh. People coming from Bangladesh are Bengalis and so the character Tajassur is nicknamed Bingo.
Bingo is an early short story written was Tariq Rahman in mid-1970’s. It was the first work of fiction in Pakistani English Literature, which focused on the 1971 war.
The tale revolves around the relationship between the West Pakistani narrator, Safeer, and his friend Tajassur, from East Pakistan. Both are in the military academy together and are posted as junior officers to Dhaka on the eve of the civil war, with tragic consequences.
The story shows friendship or enmity of the two parts of a country symbolically represented by two characters Tajassur and Safeer. The story also makes a telling comment on how a blinkered reading of colonial history has shaped the perceptions and institutions of Pakistan’s ruling elite.

Detailed Summary
It was very painful experience during the first term because they made us stand in our half pants in the cold weather at night. The Battalion sergeant was a sadist and enjoyed inflicting juniors. When I became SGC, I made my cadets stand up early, as it was idiotic to be late. I made them double round and why should they be sleeping while the seniors are all up.
Tajassur was one such idiot whom the seniors were trying hard to make a better soldier. He let the cadets get up late and had his back kicked but did not care. He chatted around, walked carelessly and was not particular of the military discipline and it was really hard to bear that while I was in my pants up and kicking; he was always sleep like top. Yet Tajassur looked more girlish in his looks and the seniors called him sissy and commented that he was fit to be a heroine. They joked about him and even bothered us much as he was popular and this drew attention of every one to both of us; although I was good at drill and Tajassur was a real louse at that. Most of us did his job for him; but what he was particularly interested in were jokes. These things made him popular but his performance and training sessions were always marked down. After during each military duty we ended up in a dance or some trivial activity and were always late for the academy doors. This could have been dangerous if any body had noticed that we shirked our cadet responsibilities.
He got the twentieth position and it was all due to his oral expression in English and discursive abilities. However, before we passed out, things were against him as he was a Bingo and the East Pakistan was in conflict with the West Pakistan striving to separate. We called him a traitor and Sheik Mujeebur Rahman’s ally. He did not say anything as he was a kid and kids do not mind politics.
The day came when we passed out and Safeer thought that Tajassur would bring shame to army due to his indiscipline. Tajassur said that he did what he liked to do and it had nothing to do with Bingo. Later, they had to report to the stations for duty. They boarded a plane and found themselves lucky as they were among the soldiers.
When they reached the station, they found hurry and tension. There was captain Maqsood who ordered them to look sharp in their army uniform, which meant ready for battle. Captain Maqsood rebuked Tajassur as he got there late as was his wont and was much advised by him. Captain Maqsood, the Adjutant, seemed to be a real officer. Then the commanding officer (CO) came in. He had a little introduction with the Safeer and Tajassur and Tajassur was again much advised by the C.O. Some military and personal information and ideas were shared.
They were talking about the bravery of various soldiers and military officers while Tajassur was silent. He suddenly spoke that people had to fight when they were oppressed and exploited. This startled every body. Tajassur’s view was that bravery was only good if is used for a just cause and if it is used to exploit people, it is evil.  The C.O. became furious thought he didn’t express his anger and left. The adjutant spoke angrily to Tajassur, ‘How dare you speak so insolently before the C.O.?’ Tajassur replied, ‘I merely expressed my opinion.’ Safeer had always advised him not to speak so casually before the elders because a respect for the senior is necessary in the army. When he went to the room, Tajassur was asleep and had fallen into every body’s bad books.
Then the C.O. called a conference and briefed about the border conditions while Tajassur remained psychologically aloof. Then they started discussing what would happen and that they would have to kill the Bingo friends (the people of Bangladesh) and they felt sorry for that. Safeer said, ‘my conscience says that kill the enemies of Pakistan’ and Tajassur spoke, ‘that is propaganda’. Before independence, we were beaten by the British and now by our own government. He detailed the exploitation and devastation of the Bingo people and he frantically kept on it and behaved like a mad man. Days passed and the condition of the Bingos went worse. Safeer began to think that it was a race of slaves. They started killing the Bingos where they found and where they heard the news that some military guys were killed.
When Tajassur came of age, he also got his first girl friend. He was intoxicated with whisky and when he went into her room, she started crying out and Safeer gave her a slap and she lay quietly like a log and he felt disgusted and later he learnt the rules of the game and found brown bodies enjoying and better to play with.
One day, they were given the orders to clear the village the Muktees. Safeer was in charge. They attacked the village and spread havoc and they were counterattacked and had to retreat. Safeer was given a blow and fell into unconsciousness and found himself to be prisoner with the Bingos. They started a heated conversation about the two different nations, their governments and the next day Safeer was to be killed. He recalled Tajassur and the happy moments he had spent with the girl and his friends.
When the day for execution approached, there was a tap at the door and a familiar voice. It was Tajassur who had come to rescue Safeer. Safeer was most delighted to have him back at that critical moment and glad at his help. The Civil War beginning to end. The Pakistani soldiers had surrendered and the East Pakistan had come up as Bangladesh. Safeer had to stay with Tajassur and his family for some days to reach back to Pakistan. Tajassur had a sister and a mother who most politely welcomed him and treated him well and when Safeer’s was about to leave for Pakistan, Tajassur’s mother and sister gave him some gifts. But just before he was leaving, a band of soldiers entered the house and shot down Tajassur and his family. There was no mother and no sister any more. Safeer shouted to stop them, but to no avail.
Tajassur’s sister Amina was naked, raped and dead. Her mother tore her hair at this sight and Safeer could not look into the mother’s eye and shot her down as well. Nothing mattered now. Tajassur, his sister and mother were death. Pakistan had surrender and Bangladesh was free at the expense of so many innocent lives.

Bingo – Critical appreciation
Introduction and Title
Bingo is a story about the two countries represented by the two characters; Safeer and Tajassur. The tale revolves around the relationship between the West Pakistani narrator, Safeer, and his friend Tajassur, from East Pakistan. Both are in the military academy together and are posted as junior officers to Dhaka on the eve of the civil war, with tragic consequences. The title of the story is significant because it is surprising for some people as Bingo denotes a game; but Bingo here refers to a person belonging to Bangladesh and the title is just belongs the story revolves around and in Bangladesh and about a Bangladeshi; Tajassur.
Main theme
The story describes the condition of East and West Pakistan in which both the people of the country shared equal status; but the East Pakistan under the leadership of Mujeebur Rahman announced autonomy and independence. The writer contends that price of meaningless independence is at the cost of one’s valuable innocent lives. Pakistan as composite of East and West could have been even stronger and more productive but for the unnecessary slogan for freedom from the Bingo leadership.
Symbolic elements in the story
The story Bingo is highly symbolic of the two forces struggling to set each one of them free and ironically destroying themselves. Tajassur symbolically represents Bangladesh and Safeer symbolizes Pakistan.
Ironical Patterns
Both the friends undergo the military training and aspire to contribute to the protection of the state; but ironically, they are put under the trial of their consciousness whether the war they are fighting is just or wrong. Both Safeer and Tajassur think that they are right and Safeer towards the end of the story is changed into a type of beast who, though unwillingly, but still kills the family of his friend. He kills Tajassur’s sister and mother who praised for his protection. There is another ironical pattern in the story. Both the countries are Muslim states; both of them got independence under one banner; but the Bingo state (The East Pakistan separated) and what can be more ironical than the fact the two Muslim states are fighting for the same cause which each of them thinks right for himself and wrong for the other.
Tariq Rahman has employed very few characters in the story. Tajassur and Safeer tower above other characters and significantly provide a contrast to the military-trained officers who know no humanity. Tariq Rahman’s depiction of characters is real and authentic and his characters are felt by heart as we feel humans in our real life. Tariq’s main achievement in Work and Other Short Stories is the portrayal of Tajassur and Safeer in Bingo. Nowhere does he command our full attention as in Bingo which the crown of this selection in terms of characterization.
Style and Technique
Tariq Rahman’s style in Bingo has a different change in it. He did not write Bingo as he wrote other stories. He seems to have conceived the idea properly and applies his style well to the structure of the story.  He has used conversation language at some places to amuse as well as to philosophize his issue.  His conversational style also adds variety to this story.
In short, Bingo is a well-conceived and well-structured story. Plot moves from a certain cause and effect pattern. The idea of 1971 war is really thrashing and very few Pakistani writers have chosen it to present in their literature. Tariq Rahman has not only used the topic but also given it a new orientation.
Main Characters – Tajassur and Safeer
Bingo does not have any one central character to be superimposed on the others. It has a parallelism of Tajassur and Safeer; both of whom are to be military officers. Tajassur belongs to Bangladesh and is nicknamed Bingo while Safeer belongs to Pakistan. Before the civil war, both the countries were one and the east wing was called East Pakistan which became Bangladesh and the west wing was called Western Pakistan; now Pakistan only. These two characters represent these two countries respectively.
Tajassur belongs to Bangladesh. He is a young man having some boyish and shy look. He is very casual. He does not attend his meetings well in time and he doesn’t even get better marks in the pass-out. Tajassur has a sister, Amina and a mother in his east wing. However, he is very outspoken and sometimes bitter, but is very kind and generous. Safeer does not seem to regard the Bingos; but we see that at the end of the story, he not only gets his released, but also helps him get out safely from Bangladesh while the Pakistani troops were surrendering. Largely, Tajassur is a good and loyal character who is enveloped into bad political conditions.
Safeer is the narrator of the story. We come to know his name later in the story while Tajassur is the first to be mentioned in the narrative. Safeer is Tajassur’s friend and belongs to West Pakistan. He is also an aspirant military man like Tajassur; but is serious and a lot more responsible than the same.  He passes out with a good position and is intellectually superior. He supports Western Pakistan and doesn’t have good regards for the Bingos. Hence the term ‘Bingo’ rather than ‘Bangladesh or East Pakistani’. Safeer is a complex character. Towards the end of the story, when he is caught by the Bangladeshi soldiers, he is released by Tajassur who supports him and looks forward to sending him back safely. Safeer is well treated by Tajassur’s family. While he is in Tajassur’s house, Pakistani soldiers enter the house and kill Tajassur and rape and kill his sister too. His mother is left badly off whom Safeer himself kills because he is unable to look into her eyes that treated him so well.
Tajassur and Safeer are the central characters of the story. They are so tightly connected that one cannot discuss one without mentioning or discussing the other. They were as linked as the East and West Pakistan were and were such like separated. The death of Tajassur causes a number of questions and the shooting of Safeer at the end of the story produces questions whose answers lie in the unnecessary freedom of a nation at the expense of thousands of innocent lives. 

Introduction to Tariq Rahman and his Collection: Work and Other Short Stories

Tariq Rahman is presently an associate professor of lingustics at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam Univiersty, Islamabad. He did his master’s and Ph. D from the university of Sheffield in English Literature. Later, he also studied Linguistics in Glasgow. Dr. Tariq Rahman is a renowned Pakistani linguist and literary figure who has produced a number of research papers and literary writings. He is a man of international repute. He is also the first to write a linguistic description of Pakistani English (1990) as well as the first history of Pakistani Literature.

His first collection of short stories were The Legacy and Other Short Stories (1989). Work and Other Short Stories is his second collection of stories written between 1982 and 1988. Most of the stories in this collection preserve the narrative style of the last century; but the concerns and themes are contemporary. Stories are symbolic as well as contain symbols in them.
As far as the purpose of the stories is concerned Tariq Rahman says, ‘my purpose is to communicate thought and experience or to create a world of microcosm’. For these reasons, one cannot cover up one’s tracks and if there is obscurity in the stories, it is due to the same approach and purpose adopted by Tariq Rahman. Although, the writer says, ‘I am not genius’. He has tried to combine beauty and wisdom in these stories and has been successful to some extent.

Work : Summary
The work is a story about a routine matter of a day in which the narrator goes to a workshop to get his car washed. The narrator watches the scene how the master of the shop and the boy – the pupil in the workshop retort to each other while still keeping to their work. The narrator, being free while his work is being, opens T.S. Eliot’s poem and starts reading it; but he is not able to understand it. In the cold weather, his attention is diverted by a local boy selling grams. The narrator starts observing the scene again.
He sees Tongas and cycles on the road and the drivers shouting. There is also a Datsun car in the workshop for the washing-up and its owner is quite rough. The owner gets engaged with the boy while the boy is doing his car. The narrator starts reading T.S. Eliot again; but muses that he cannot start it again while some one is talking.
He plans to get up and then goes to a nearby shop to get a coke or something. There are two girls at the shop and he steals glance at them while still being indifferent to them; gets busy with the drink and makes comments that one of them is beautiful. The boy who brings him the coke is in shabby clothes as compared to the blue-eyed boy in the workshop. He could not get anywhere else, as he knew that workers usually get the parts out if the owners happen to be away from their cars for quite a long time. Thinking so, he goes back to the shop.
He again finds the boy washing the car diligently. He is working so fast that flies do not find chance to sit on. The narrator humorously says that he should start reciting Eliot to drive the flies away. The owner of Datsun is haggling with the worker to settle the price but narrator makes no comment. The owner of Datsun keeps shouting at the boy for one thing or another; sometimes for washing up or sitting at the back seats longer than the owner thought is necessary.
The owner of Datsun starts watching the pictures of actresses on the hoardings and the narrator turns to his poetry, ‘We are hollow men’ and ‘We are stuffed men’. In the mean time, Datsun is ready and the man pays for the services and goes away and the workers exchange some bad remarks about the owner of Datsun.
The narrator’s car is ready and shining too. The narrator observes the boy who jumps from one place to another like a monkey while doing his work. The boy is talking to the car-washer; but the narrator is not able to hear what actually they are talking about. However, he is able to hear the boy talking, ‘I have a mother’. The narrator talks to the boy about how much money he is able to earn. The boy tells him that only once on Eid, he is able to wash ten or more cars and he usually makes seventy to ninety rupees. The boy says that it is difficult to manage the household.
The narrator pays the boy money and leaves for home. At home, he resolves to work diligently like the boy; but ironically with AC on in his room without disturbance.
 Summary: A Friend
The narrator describes the event of his life when he was in friend with Soniya than whom he was older by six months. Although, she herself was a quite a young girl; yet she behaved like grown-up ladies. She was a soft-spoken girl who loved to pass messages and interact with young boys. The narrator and the girl had found The Station Club where they used to arrange their night adventures and meetings.
One night, the narrator found Soniya in the car and asked her where she was going. She stopped short suddenly and looked like a statue. The narrator said, ‘been stealing’ and the girl said, ‘shut up, lad’. Therefore, they exchanged their normal words of conversation and then they went home.
That evening the narrator had more whiskey with Mati than usual and when he was going to his room in intoxication, he saw the figure of a girl towards whom he found himself to be attracted. It was Soniya. She rebuked him for drinking so much whisky and even demanded that he should learn how to drink. The narrator justified himself with the excuse that he drank only rarely. The narrator was always treated as a child by the girl.
Later, Mati and Adel had adventures with girls. They went to a brothel and asked the narrator to find some relax in the company of nude girls. They were drunk and quite determined to have sex adventure. The narrator kept himself aloof from this. They left the narrator and went with a girl wearing black shawl and had fun and with her and wine. After they had enjoyed the girl and the wine; they came back to the car and asked the narrator to drive, as they were tired and intoxicated. The narrator could not see the face of the girl. He held her arm and she revealed her face. It was Soniya.
The narrator exclaimed, ‘you’ and it was like a snake that hissed the narrator. Soniya asked him to leave and her and go back to the car. She had full signs of desperation, guilt and anguish and she had become a woman and was a girl no more.
She said that she was a call girl. Once she had wealth, had a rich family, and studied in a convent where she learnt English and she used her beauty and language skills to project her body and that paid well and was better than washing dishes or working in homes. The narrator was deeply touched because he had heard stories about sacrificing prostitutes. He spoke softly and sympathized with her. Soniya slid her hand into his and expressed genuine emotions.
Time passed and they kept meeting each other. First the narrator didn’t form any sexual relationship with Soniya because he thought that he was engaged into a Platonic love; later he got engaged with physical love and that was a tremendous experience for him and was an explosion of emotions which gave him as much pleasure as two physical bodies can afford. The month of relationship was over and then the narrator asked Mats for some money to give Soniya for the month he had spent with her. First, he thought that she would not accept the money and throw it over his face with a heavy slap like the scenes in popular romances. He believed that Soniya was not the kind of prostitute who cared only for money. With this scene in his mind, he went to Soniya with tears in his eyes. First, they talked amusedly with personal feelings tinged with sexual flavors and then he said that he wanted to give her a present. However, Soniya said that she did not need trifles. What she thought was worthy to accept was money. He said that he had brought money for her. He stopped short for a minute searching for proper words to describe and when he actually brought the banknotes out. Soniya burst into laughing and said, ‘are you serious?’. She returned the money with a smile and said, ‘you are not the week; but weekend, holiday and not work and one doesn’t get paid during holidays’. Then she vanished into the darkness and shattered the world of romances and stereotypes of the narrator. The narrator began to feel that he would grow up if he started meeting her.
Summary: The Professor
The story started with the narrator in the train. While in the train, the narrator wants to see the little station from where he started his practical life. He thrust his head out of the window; but his view was distracted by the tall trees around and he could not stick his head out for long as it was too cold.
While so, he noticed that there was an old man dozing in the train. There were also some students from Hasan Abdal College talking to each other amiably. There was one man in particular gazing at the narrator. He was wearing Shalwar qameez in ordinary attire, but he didn’t look shabby. He was a middle-aged man distinguished by the book he was reading; because other passengers on board were either reading newspapers or reading nothing at all. There were also others who were reading popular magazines and watching picture of fascinating female models. The narrator judged the book to be no extraordinary and too thick to read even for a dying a grandmother. The narrator smiled which drew the attention of the man on the train. The man asked the narrator if he belonged to Sarai Alamgir. The narrator responded affirmatively. The narrator asked in surprise, ‘how did you know?’ The man said, ‘the way you were looking out of the window’.
The book was about some political topic having detailed maps and illustrations and analyzing some conquests. The topic was dull and drab and exhibited no interest for the narrator. He had the idea that such books were read by well-off people and that the man was not so particular. The man asked when the train would reach the city, the students of Hassan Abdal College answered that the train would get there at ten. When the train got Lahore, the train significantly got emptied and the narrator put his handbag on the seat and the man whom the narrator had nicknamed professor did the same.
They got off the train and the professor went to a bookstall. The narrator thought that perhaps he was looking for some sexy girls in the books and then he thought again that he was a professor – an intellectual. He justified that by talking to himself that he also studied intellectual stuff and read the dirty things at the same time and again he thought that the professor is employed and that is the reason he himself is unemployed after MA. He further went into consideration that the man is not a real professor. From one of the stalls, the narrator wanted to buy the Reader’s Digest but it was too expensive so he bought a cheap magazine showing some pretty models.
Then both of them boarded the train in the midst of students from PMA, Pakistan Military Academy. When the train started off, the professor kept looking at the cadets. There was anger in his looks. He despised them. He spoke aguishly and said that those cadets were bred by the sweat of the Pakistani people and they think themselves superior and all others inferior. They have no value in them; they are just parasite. They considered themselves elite and others rubbish. They enjoy all royal pleasures: neatly dressed, humanly treated, finely trimmed and mannered behaviors. But all this is due to the incoming of hard work Pakistani people.
The narrator showed indifference to the professor’s talk because he could not understand the reason for his anger. Later when he woke up, he found the professor in a debate with the cadets. He told them their weakness and discussed how Martial Law harmed the country.
The narrator got engaged with what was happening around like selling boiled eggs. The professor, however, behaved ridiculously in the train with all the cadets around. The professor did not like another man’s arrival in the train and wished him to leave soon. He was the captain and he got off the next stop.
At the end, a card, which contained the professor’s name and designation, fell out of the book. This gave the narrator some information about the professor; but he could not understand what the book was and how martial law had harmed the sensitive minds.

A critical evaluation of: Work, A Friend and Professor

Tariq Rahman is one of the short story writers whose emphasis seems to be more on language and less on content and thought. The three stories which have been summarized provide an ample evidence to support this. According to a critic, the short stories, Work, A Friend and Professor, exhibit no deep philosophy or moral lessons; but simply provide linguistic play work. But this is not entirely true. Though Tariq Rahman is a renowned Pakistani linguist; his shorts stories do have literary merits; apart from their linguistic elegance.

Work being the title story is significant in this respect. The title itself is catchy and reflective of some important fact of life. The meaning of work is different from person to person. Work for the boy means to find means of survival and for employers; it means exploitation and even for the observers; this may stand for simply entertainment. The importance of work is undeniable and when the writer goes home, he also wants to work harder like the boy in the garage; but the point to understand is that the writer is not determined to work exactly like the boy but ironically in his room with AC on. The story is highly satirical and ironical of the upper class.
Tariq Rahman’s A Friend has been both touching and romantic in which the protagonist is ultimately disillusioned and comes to terms with actual reality. The love-relation and the friendship of the boy and girl are also startled. The boy is not able to understand the nature of the girl and his perception of sacrificing prostitutes is shattered when the girl refuses to take money and turns him into a plaything for her. She says that the affair with him was not week; but weekend.  Tariq Rahman finds a full scope to discuss human relationships and their complexity at the adolescent level in particular.
His short story Professor is highly humorous and serious at the same time. This may be called a character-story of the man sitting in the train entitled by the narrator as the Professor. However, the Professor is also a strong gibe at the military cadets and the military officers. We know that all humans are equals and there are no superiors in terms of humanity; but cadets arrogantly give themselves high airs and brand all others as inferior. The ironical situation causes a little chuckle when the professor says that these cadets were bred by the hard work of the common Pakistani people. So irony becomes more and more deep when the readers acquires that common man’s utmost toil goes to the credit of military men and no their own and in return they are enslaved and humiliated.
The three stories Work, A Friend and Professor are highly entertaining for a general story reader. However, these stories are intellectual and moral. Tariq Rahman exhibits variety in these stories and comes up as a good storyteller. Tariq Rahman’s handling of Pakistani style in the contemporary themes is superb and he has maintained Pakistani flavor in almost all his stories; that is what makes him special.