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.

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