Tariq Rahman, the linguist, the critic and the short story writer is a famous and notable writer in Pakistani literature whose main fame in literature is due to his stories rather than his linguistic ideas. Tariq Rahman seems to have observed Pakistani society so closely that he has chosen a handful of characters as epitome of Pakistani culture and present ideology.
His characters are real people from real life in the fictional world made real by him. For example, the narrator of ‘Work’ is like all of us who keep busy with ourselves and spend most of our time observing things and people around commenting on them all the while. The professor in the short story ‘Professor’ has been portrayed in the real setting with real professor-like idiosyncrasies. Tajassur in ‘Bingo’ is both comic and philosophical. Therefore, he has chosen the characters we actually feel.
Tariq’s another quality is his flat portrayal of characters. They do not develop or surprise us or they do not take any U-turn in the narrative. They are flat for a particular span of life like rest of us. The girl in A Friend, however, startles us but she is not round. She is what we can expect from her. This is ironical pattern in the character rather than the rotundity or three-dimensional aspect.
His art of characterization is never distinctly visible from his art of narrative. His characters and narratives go hand in hand. This is so because he presents themes not through the narrative but through the characters. For examples, the theme of irony and labour is reflected though the child and the narrator respectively in the short story ‘Work’. The theme of simplicity, humour, intellect and tragedy is reflected in the character of Tajassur in ‘Bingo’.
In short, Tariq Rahman’s characters do not develop themselves but develop the themes caused by them. They are universal characters and individuals as well as types. They peculiar habits and styles make us laugh, weep and think so that we can change ourselves by the process of evaluation.