The Devil's Apprentice

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Chapter 5- Nasar Jatoyi


“Jee Saab, coming”

A short and lean man wearing a white cotton shalwaar kameez and a white turban runs across a veranda. There were date trees lining the boundary of the great Victorian style bungalow constructed first in 1855 by a major trader of the British East India Company in Rawalpindi. It was later bought and renovated by a general in the British Army in 1857 only to be handed down generation after generation to his descendants until the Independence movement of 1947. The colonial bungalow was then bought by a close confident of the family and sympathizer Nawab Shah Jatoyi. Since 1947 the colonial bungalow has been occupied by Nawab Shah’s descendants.

The man crossed the vast expanse of the veranda that was lined with Canadian grass and flower beds. The grounds of the bungalow were well kept with five servants tending to the various imported flowers of various varieties of orchids from England, calla lilies from South Africa, tulips from Holland, and iris flowers from France. There was an entire closed gated garden just dedicated to roses of all colors and varieties. The fragrance in the expanse of the veranda of divine and serene. Any person walking into the space for the first time would have a sensory overload from all the different smells from each section of the gardens. The small man makes his way across the gardens to come upon a large wooden door. Its shiny brass handles reflected the early morning sun. The entire door was carved by hand with intricate floral patterns to reflect the history of the occupants. The stems of the floral patterns curved as if dancing to the tone of the silent workers carrying on with their tasks. The man’s hands brushed against the embossed flowers and leaves erected into the door only to push open to a large foyer. A crystal chandler hung from the center of the foyer with two winding staircases leading to the first floor of the house. The foyer also provided entry into other rooms on the ground floor.

“Jameel!” a deep husky voice was calling from a room across the foyer.

“Jee Malick”

The man walked across the foyer’s shiny granite tiles the color of white sand. His traditional peshawari shoes clinking against the tiles. He opened another dark oak door to a room resembling a study. A large oak desk was situated in front with a large plush chair. The desk was as old as the house and restored with a new coating of glaze to enhance the natural tones of the wood. A tall man was glancing out towards the gardens from an arched window about eight feet long. He too was wearing a white shalwar kameez but color of the suit looked crisp and well cleaned. The man was over six feet tall with broad shoulders and well-built arms whose curves were prominent from the sleeves of the suit clinging to them. He turned to face his man-servant with piercing grey eyes set in a lightly tanned face.

“Maalick, you beckoned for me?” the small man faced his master. He was older than the man who beckoned for him. Beaded black eyes stared at his master while his dark tanned arms crossed over his chest in respect. He bent his head slightly low to signify that he was present to act upon whatever his master commands.

“Hmm, Jameel did you deliver the package to Ajmal Sabir Khan yesterday night on time?”

“Yes sir I did, he called this morning and asked if you would be attending this afternoon’s session at the assembly. I told him you would be on time as always.”

“Good, is my briefcase ready along with all the scanned documents I gave you yesterday to print?”

“Yes sir, the briefcase along with your attire for this afternoon have been laid out in your dressing area.”

“Did Nazir come home last night?” the man’s tone suddenly changed to icy as he faced Jameel waiting for the answer he already expected.

“No Saab, I’m sorry, he hasn’t returned home yet. I waited for him all night and informed the guard to notify me at once if he were to return.” Jameel sensed the anger that was slightly rising in his master.

Nazir always finds a way to make the Saab angry. This boy needs to stop with his antics and begin taking the family responsibilities more seriously. Over three generations of men I have served in this family and never have I ever witnessed such a rogue as Nazir. Sooner or later Saab will have had enough of these childish midnight adventures. Jameel stared at the feet of his master in burning shame. He had promised the master that he would look after Nazir but the responsibility was becoming too much for him to handle.

“That’s fine Jameel, please ask the maid to send in my morning tea and breakfast. I would like to eat here before I leave to complete my remaining tasks. Have you asked the MNA from Jhelum to meet with me over dinner today?”

“Yes Saab I have, he said he would reach by 7:30 this evening. I’ve already set out the menu for this evening and have consulted with Begum Saab on the numerous other tasks for preparing for this evening.”

“Fine”, with that the man turned back to the window staring out into the spacious gardens with the sunlight falling through his brown hair giving the perception of specks of gold through each strand. Jameel understood that this meeting was over and it was time to carry out the day’s tasks. He slightly bowed his head and left the room leaving the door closed behind him. His master, Nasar Jatoyi was a unique man, one with many words only spoken in silence. Jameel remembers waiting after him in his childhood days, even then he was too serious for his age. A small Nasar would always sit quiet watching his father carry on the day’s work with meticulous ease.

As Nasar heard the door close behind him he walked over to his desk and sat behind the great grand oak which was once his father’s who inherited it from his father and so-on and so forth. He shifted through the paperwork and files on his desk to find the schematics of the new steel factory he was planning on constructing. Nasar tried his best to focus on the work in front of him but his thoughts kept drifting back to Nazir.

Nazir, my brother I’ve protected you all my life from everyone; the bullies at school, teachers, and our impenetrable father. But you are slowly closing every door on me if you continue down this path. When will you understand that life does not function this way at all? You’re a grown man that needs to take responsibility of your life. The party crazy days are over. How can I make you understand the reality of this? Despair was slowly setting into Nasar.

I have to do something about Nazir he can’t go on like this forever, this isn’t the way in which the world works. I have to speak to him, but never seem to get the time to do so. Nasar opens up his iPad, it was the last gift his father ever gave before he died a few months back.

I remember Baba telling me; it’s the 21st century Nasar, in times like this old date books and post-it notes are no longer handy nor reasonable. Baba laughs a deep resonating laughing and begins coughing frantically afterwards. Believe me Nasar, when I am gone this thing will be your life line, I only wish these had come out in my time, work would have been a lot more easier and I wouldn’t have to drag around Jameel all the time.

Nasar opens up his schedule for today. Just after the assembly session and meeting with one of the senators he has a little time before a short session with the locals in the evening. Then there’s that meeting with the MNA from Jhelum.

Hmm... maybe if I am back right after the meeting I’ll catch up with him before he returns home. I’ll take him to lunch at his favorite little Italian place in Koshar Market or we can grab a bite to eat at McDonalds. Nazir has an odd obsession with McDonalds since it opened in Islamabad. There was a time when breakfast, lunch, and dinner was all McDonalds. I can’t fathom to understand what’s so great about the food, besides the fries.

Nasar hears a slight indication knock on his door and sees Jameel entered with tea and breakfast. Really Baba, would this iPad be able to fetch me my breakfast? Regardless of where technology takes us, Jameel is an irreplaceable anchor in my life and I only have you to thank Baba. Unexpectedly a smile creeps up onto Nasar’s face. Seeing the odd display of emotion Jameel is both pleased and shocked. He sets the breakfast tray on the table clearing out and sorting the paperwork on the desk. Like the routine that he has kept in the last eight years Jameel could complete this task with his eyes closed. He knows exactly where to place the master’s tea cup so that it is in reaching distance. The cutlery and plates are placed strategically across the table in addition to the prepared meal. Jameel hands Nasar his napkin and begins placing the breakfast times in sequence to which Nasar consumes them. First is the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with just a dash of Himalayan salt in it. As the master is gulping that down Jameel swiftly but neatly butters a banana oat muffin and slices it in half to place it at the master’s plate. An assortment of apple and pear slices are then placed next to the muffin; three slices of apple skin off with three slices of pear skin on. As Nasar completes the breakfast appetizers Jameel retrieves from the hot pot a steaming hot paratha made from organic ghee and places it on the small plate often used for salads. He then spoons; only three spoons, of a chickpea and chicken stew on to another plate. Only then does Jameel leave Nasar’s side so that the master can eat in peace.

After breakfast Jameel cleans up the dishes and leaves the room. Nasar now completely full from his breakfast leaves the study to get dressed in order to leave the house on time. His first stop is the lands his family has owned for generations in Taxila. As he is about to leave he sees Maa Jee in the living area speaking on the phone.

“Maa Jee, Asalaam-Alikum"

A tall and slender woman with salt and pepper hair turns to face Nasar. She hides the slight shock on her face.

“Walikum Asalam Nasar beta, I thought you had left by now.”

“No Maa Jee I was just leaving. Who were you speaking to on the phone so early this morning, was it Nazir?”

“Oh no jaani, you know how he is. I was speaking with Shagufta about the small get together we would be having this weekend. Last week it was her turn to host high-tea for all the ladies. I was just telling her that I would host it this week as I was in no mood to ruin my vacation date just for a tea party. The daft woman was ringing my ears out about the catering and the effort she put in to her high-tea event last week. I told her I didn’t need any third party caterers since our cooks have been working on the estate for generations. I tell you that woman is quite spiteful...”

“Maa Jee” Nasar interrupted, “do inform me when Nazir returns home immediately, I have already told the guard to do so and Jameel as well if I don’t come home on time after the session at parliament.”

“Oh, okay, I will inform you indeed. Is something wrong?”

“Maa Jee, everything that Nazir is doing is wrong. It’s time I had a serious chat with him.”

“Oh jani, he’s young they do these kinds of things people his age...”

“Maa Jee, there is absolutely nothing young or humorous about a twenty-six year old running around party, after party spending away precious time and not to mention money. There are men at his age who have already stepped into this world to make a name and place for themselves. Please just inform me when he comes home, that’s all I ask.”

With that Nasar left his mother in silence.

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