JournalismPakistan.com October 19, 2013
My friend Len finally managed to use influence and get a cousin he did not know a job in Dubai because he'd been told it was his duty to help and, after all, if relatives couldn't, who could.
Three months ago, the cousin arrived and since Len had ensured the job was several miles away from his place, after a couple of days of staying over with them he was dispatched to fend for himself.
We can't keep him forever, Len said when his wife suggested that perhaps two days was a little too short of forever and may cause friction and misunderstanding amongst sundry members of the family when it got back to the home shores.
I got him the job, didn't I, said Len, who says I have to nursemaid the blighter, you keep him loner and you won't be able to get rid of him, no I've done my good act, off he goes. The young man went. That was 10 odd weeks ago.
Yesterday, Len came home from work and his wife said he is not happy.
Who's not happy, he asked yanking his tie off.
Anand, she said, he called.
Who's Anand, Len inquired pleasantly as he kicked his shoes off.
Oh, for heaven's sake, Len, your cousin, the one you got the job for.
So, said, Len, so who promised him happiness, the guy wanted a job, I got him a job, not become his local guardian, life isn’t a rose garden.
She said what rose gardens, we're talking about your cousin, he's complained about his conditions.
Complained, said Len wrestling with his stupefaction, complained to who?
Whom, she said, having done her honors in English and, therefore, heavy on her grammar.
What are you blathering on about, he said, who cares about that, I want to know how he dared to complain at all to anyone.
He doesn't like the work, she said, he wrote to his parents who told your grandparents, who told your parents, who rang up today and said maybe you should look into it, they feel that he is your responsibility, it being a foreign country and all that.
He is not my responsibility, said Len, doing deep breaths, I made that very clear when they were badgering me to get him anything, you remember aneeething, please he'll do any job.
He's missing home food, said Len's wife, and his mother says he is homesick, besides which the salary is less than was promised.
Who told you all this?
Dad, she said.
Dad called, he said, kicking the cat.
He sounded upset, she said. He said it was getting embarrassing since Uncle and Aunty were worried by their son's letters, he's asking to be sent back and they feel he's been gypped on the money angle.
They feel that, do they, said Len, tearing the buttons off his shirt, so now I am a villain, two months ago I could do no wrong, let him go back, what do I care.
Dad said you may like to loan him some money, she said hiding behind the door, and give him some of your old furniture.
Len made some exceptional sounds in his throat and said, old furniture, why not a room in the house while we're at it.
It was suggested, she said, look I told you this would happen if you started getting relatives across, don't do it Len, I said. Len tell them you can't, I said but would you listen, oh no. When it came to his family, Sir Galahad gallops to the rescue, when I asked you to help my niece did you, I ask, did you, no, you said I can't do it, but your own cousin and it was no problems, Dad, tell Uncle and Aunt not to worry, Dad, so now handle it mister. Wait till I see him, I'll teach him a thing or two. He's coming to collect his loan, she said.
No way, said Len, not a chance, I am not his keeper. My niece would have never been like this, she said. Not one fil, said Len, and that's final. Okay, she said, but he did say he got a letter from home saying it was okay to ask because his parents had asked Dad and Dad had said no problem you can afford it and he also wanted to know if you can give him an old TV set and speak to his boss about getting him off night shift and help him find a better place to stay and let him come home for the weekends and...
Give me the phone said Len, want to talk to Dad. Not right now, she said, I'd wait if I were you because he told his parents you're still smoking and they told your parents and they want to know why you lied to them all this time, Len, what's wrong, why are you heaving that way.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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A study conducted by JournalismPakistan.com and Communications Research Strategies on the economic situation of slain journalists' families and journalists displaced due to security threats.