Friday, August 24, 2007

The New Yorker: "Nawabdin Electrician" by Daniyal Mueenuddin

This isn’t a story I recommend, except for the fact that it is set in Pakistan and you don’t see many such stories. Here, Nawabdin is an operator. He works—but he also has a way of skimming a little extra here and there, including helping people cheat the electric company. But one forgives him this corruption, in a way, because he has 12 daughters (just one son) and will be saddled with their dowries. His primary employer provides him with a motorcycle and it is while he is riding the motorcycle that a man even poor than he attacks him and shoots him. Nawabdin survives, but the shots bring help and the attacker is also shot. In hospital, the attacker claims poverty and begs forgiveness. But Nawabdin (is he any better than the poorer man?) will not budge. It seems to me the reader is meant to conclude that Nawabdin is a hypocrite, that there is little difference between the two men, but Nawabdin cannot see it. If there is more to this story than this easy moral, I’d love it if someone would suggest it here in a comment.

August 27, 2007: “Nawabdin Electrician” by Daniyal Mueenuddin

1 comment:

ravi shenoy said...

I enjoyed this story. I'd like to add that the story contrasts a man who knows how to work the system with another who is ground to dust by this very system.
The electrician believes that the means justify the end, because he has to provide for his family. Even as the thief dies he is outraged and refuses to forgive him, because his own death would have meant destitution for his family.