Selected Short Stories
"Tariq Rahman's stories are written with competence and sensitivity"
"Behind their deceptively simple surfaces, of domestic life, childhood experiences and friendship, we find violence of civil war, brutal oppression of caste and sexual exploitation."
-The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Simion was my friend. We called him a Nazarene though his father had come from Nazareth and settled down here fro some time before this imp was born. And I’m sure it was a good thing too. We couldn’t have known the pleasure of his company. He had a look of merriment on his face and he was good-natured. His eyes danced like marbles and shone like gems.’ Even at the age of seven he knew how to win in every game and I envied him secretly. But we always quarreled because I couldn’t let him get away with things so easily. There was that time, for instance, when he played at being eagles. Well I placed my figs on the ground and hovered around. There were three of us, Barabbus myself and Simion. Then Simion gave the signal and we swooped down on the thing and the bloody biggest falcon of us all got it! Simion got it! He never let anybody win till I found out how he did it. He gave the signal just when his hand happened to be near the treasure. Now just you see! Wasn’t that rascal a born leader of men and to be the governor of Judaea.
Years we spent on the streets and learned all about them. The Rabbis who were hard like the stones and went about preaching the words of Jehovah and holy Moses. Well, they never gave us much money . Perhaps they weren’t rich after all. Then the hawk –faced merchants who came from across rich lands with camel caravans. They would give you something if you looked miserable enough. The Arabs in flowing gowns with the sand of the desert looking for women. They gave you coins if you met them when they were drunk. And at night Simion found an opportunity to fish out money out of the wine-bibbing Romans and the relaxed merchants. He knew how to talk, that rascal!
At sixteen Simion told me about a black-eyed Arab girl. He was ecstatic and he had got a green shining stone for her from somewhere. Maidens always value useless stones and gold and silver. As usual Simion knew how to win her heart. He was angry and thundered like Jehovah himself in his fire. The girl’s father was pagan and went buying well-cut images of the Assyrian deities in the bazaar. The girl succumbed to the magnetic spell of good old Simian’s sighs and poems and he had his will of her. Perhaps the deserts or the oasis saw Simon’s breed later because the father moved away.
But then fro some time Simion turned a pimp And all the pinch faced old tarts said they’d never seen anyone as clever as Simion at the business. He sold more girls to more men then anyone ever heard of. He even spoke the strange dialects of the Roman soldiers. He knew the art of pleasing people and his smile never waned when the met those fat greasy looking merchants who looked lasciviously at nymphets of thirteen who frisked in and out of tents. O those hoary men of safe reputation who came to Simion and I were a joke. Who could think of a man who talked of the Holy man’s great commandments and came to Simion with a shy glint in his bleary eyes and billy-goat beard going up and down as he salivated like a dog...