Jamil: Just Another Night

Every time Jamil has a night shift, he feels like quitting his job. Staying up all night, two nights in a week! Sleeping during the day is just not the same thing. But this is his own doing. When he studied Hotel Management, he knew night shifts were common in hotel jobs. He is like a woman who elopes with her lover, his thoughts echo ironically. When the passion gets depleted, she can neither put up with the burdens of the relationship, nor go back to her parents with grievances about her husband and in-laws.

A little before eleven Jamil starts his shift. He glances at the PC and sighs, relieved to see there are no new arrivals that night. It will not be a busy night.

It is twenty minutes after midnight. The lobby of the five-star hotel is quiet tonight; more so than other nights. Then Jamil remembers it is Friday night. The bar is closed on Fridays. No wonder there are hardly any people. Only six people scattered throughout the vast lobby. Jamil and Faisal are at the Front Desk. A little further away is the Duty Manager Nasir’s desk; Night Porter Rosario is at the Concierge desk; the Security Officer is posted next to him. The most conspicuous person tonight is a young girl in a magenta sari with a silver ream. She sits huddled on a corner sofa. She is not particularly striking, but well dressed and personable. She has a purse and a carry-on case. It is difficult to say how old she is. But then, Jamil can never gauge a girl’s age! Perhaps she is in her mid-twenties? Jamil had noticed her when he came on duty, so she must have been sitting here for a long time. She keeps fiddling with her mobile phone, keeps calling someone intermittently. She speaks in a subdued voice; at times she looks agitated, at times vexed; and then for long moments she is silent. After a long break, she dials a number again, but she does not seem to be speaking to anyone anymore. Perhaps no one wants to answer their phone so late at night!

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