“I was merely making conversation,” remarked Abdul Rahman. “I had asked Paul how his class was going and I happened to mention that Muhammand bin Aziz in Business English 4a is the nephew of Mahmoud bin Aziz, the deputy chief of police.”

Rahman shrugged.

“It was just a passing comment,” he said, taking the handle of his coffee cup between his thumb and index finger. “I didn’t mean to imply anything.”

Paul Hedgecliff, who is new to Al Wasta English, was heard to discuss the seemingly fleeting conversation with a colleague during a smoke break.

“So he points out this obscure familial connection to this other person I’ve never heard of and then just leaves.”

“That’ll happen,” observed David Peach as he took a final puff on his cigarette. “How’s the guy doing in class?”

“Not well,” Hedgecliff admitted. “He sleeps through most of it.”

Peach was seen to nod and pat Hedgecliff on the arm.

“Abdul had one of those chats with me last month,” he said, quietly. “Apparently, Muhammad Iskandar in Conversation 3 is the cousin-in-law of Waleed bin Ikram, head of the immigration office.”

“Weird, isn’t it?” Hedgecliff remarked.

“Anyway,” Peach continued, “Muhammad Iskandar hadn’t been doing too well in class either. Strangely enough though, after Abdul had that chat with me his grades started to improve.”

“Good for him,” Hedgecliff was heard to say as Peach ascended the stairs back to the office.

When asked about the situation by our reporter later, Peach was sanguine.

“He’ll either learn or he won’t. Four more months of this shithole and my student loan will be paid off and I’ll be out of here.”

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