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Deferred love

July 06, 2012


-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani/

Once upon a time, Karachi’s young men, or at least a subset of them, concluded that the reason they can’t land a date is threefold: no phone, no car, no place. Motorbike was a reasonably upscale means of personal transport for bus riding college students-till-recently, but uptown girls preferred the privacy of a car and a safe and clean environment before they allowed intimacy to happen. Or so the boys believed.

That notion, right or wrong, led to a lot of the professional development that you see in Karachi today. Young men equipped themselves with new knowledge and vocational skills, and broke into small business. They fuelled service industry with their toil, and sailed the crest of internet revolution. New paths were carved and old ways were polished and repackaged. The objective was to make money, enough money to buy the lifestyle conducive to their youthful fantasies. They did make a lot of money before their sideburns started showing slivers of white and their six-packs bulged into sacks of flab. They have cars, latest hand phones and comfortable dwellings for years now. But those who couldn’t get a date on bike, failed to get one into their sedan either.

Morale of the story is: Work solves no problems; it only creates more problems and more work. A lot of people out there are working because someone needed help with their business, which assists other businesses that help someone else do their work. Every bit of work done is created by other workers, and results in keeping more workers busy elsewhere. People are working because of others. Everyone is making every one else work more, and harder. Everyone is responsible for adding misery to our daily life. And for what?

While the young date-less men were studying computers or business management in the evenings and doing some pathetic work to make equally pathetic money in the day, another subset of young men and women were dating on Honda CD70. They understood the wisdom of the maxim: ‘work is the death of youth’ and concentrated on the task at hand. They used the neighbour’s phone or a PCO to arrange the outing, their bike was the flying horse at their disposal, and they didn’t need a flat: slurping kulfi at a public beach was a good enough date for them.

Today the first set runs huge offices, meets important people, and has more disposable income than ever before; all the while the young are dating on motorbikes with some low-brow names like Ready Cash. And they do it on bicycles, on foot, heck even on someone else’s rooftop.

Those who are happily retired are the ones who can break the code of silence. Educate our young men and women. Tell them they are standing at the brink of life. There are things their heart desires, and the only thing standing in the way is … work. They put off nicer things in life like love, romance, happiness … thinking work will afford them the money that will set them free to chase their dreams. Work is exactly the opposite of it – it weds you pompously and demands complete loyalty, with no divorce provision in the contract. It’s a relationship for life in which casual flings are frowned upon.

Work gets you money, power, privileges, social benefits … but one thing you never have enough of is: time. Time for yourself, and your loved ones. Time for all the things you wanted to do. You are free … as far as the rope of time stretches. If you are lucky you’ll opt for early retirement and take a fresh start in life. If not you’ll grow into a miserable, or depraved – or both – old man or woman who lived all their life merely to ‘raise our children’. Wrong. It was work occupying their time for the most part of their lives. And it’s the realisation of the fact that desirable women and bike-riding young men are still attracting each other, but you with your snazzy sports car are not in the game any more, that makes them bitter.

If you aren’t already retired, or about to retire, you have a choice: Go on working, or find, live, and enjoy the rest of your life.

Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.