The rusty water

In the utmost silence of the dark room, he pulled the journal out from the drawer trying not to make a sound. The dust on the jacket of the cover forced him to scrunch up his nose as he withheld a sneeze. After recovering, he sat on his bedside with the journal in his lap. Under the dim moonlight beaming through the window, he began reading. June 9, 1946 Dear Diary, I think we will finally be able to stay permanently in Khushkot. Our dear uncle came last night with some official papers and Abbu had signed them. This is great news! ...

Read Full Post

Familiar handcuffs

He could hardly hear him – his words did not even brush his shoulders as they hurried past. His eyes were feeling extremely heavy, not because of sleep or weariness, but because of its on-going conversation with another’s gaze. He was at the bus stop. As his friend sat across, speaking without realising how little was being absorbed, a stranger, who stood silently in the corner, stared directly at him, perhaps even within him. The owner of the gaze appeared to be an old woman, and she wore a long overcoat, but it wasn’t long or big enough to hide ...

Read Full Post

A ‘taroo’s treat’ in Karachi

Before I begin, there is something I want to say: My wife is a stupid woman.  There I said it. I don’t know what goes on in that miniscule female brain of hers but she is really getting on my nerves now. I was leaving to hang out with my boys when she told me to take a water bottle with me. There’s a heat wave, she said, you’ll get dehydrated. “Bottle of water? What is wrong with you, woman? I am not a weak little girl. I am a man. A MAN.” I yelled and repeated for further reassurance to her and ...

Read Full Post

Girls don’t tell, boys don’t cry

His hands were hard, His voice was soft, His eyes were red, His teeth had rot, I tried to run, But he wouldn’t let me go, I tried again, But he just said no.   Then he smiled the most ugly smile, Don’t you know, you silly child? Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   Another push, another blow, He had me trapped, I could not go, One fine day, I’ll let you leave, Until that day you shall grieve, But what will you tell them, when you’re free?   He watched me as he made me lie, Girls don’t tell, And boys don’t cry.   He’s not here now, But he has me still, I dream his face, His ghastly grin, How his teeth had rot, How ...

Read Full Post

The Good Pakistani Wife II: Should she have kept silent?

Ali had cursed Amina on their final night together…   It happened after a few agonising days, when she mustered the courage to confront him. Ali played with his phone on an oversized leather sofa they bought together, little pillows carelessly scattered on it.  “Ali, I know you’ve been seeing someone else. And, I know you’ve never really loved me. I don’t think you even like who I am…” “You’re imagining things. I am giving you everything you need as a husband, isn’t this love? Be grateful”. There was no guilt. Was she really ungrateful? She bit off the dry skin on her fingers ...

Read Full Post

From every coffin raised, to a mother’s wail

The music isn’t loud enough to drown The grief, the whimpering sounds. I know not what their names are, Just that they got caught up in this bloody war, And I hope all the blood spilled, Every penny the poor souls had paid, Will be justified at the end of time.   Bodies to be seen for this unthinkable crime, They will pay the price for this heinous deed, Not fear, but of strength they planted a seed. From each bullet hole will come out a rose, And each scream will be wind that blows.   High above the empty town that didn’t lose, Just rumpled from a little misuse, They give the light to diminish any trouble, To ...

Read Full Post

Some wounds only death can heal

I remember it very vividly; I had driven down in my 99 Honda Civic which was a hand-me-down from my dad. The weather was surprisingly brisk considering fall had shot shades of winter in its early days. I walked up to my uncle’s door and found it unlocked, as always, and announced my entrance to the house. Silence was scattered around the house. All I could hear was the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I followed my usual trail up to the top level and towards my grandfather’s room. After three knocks and a slight nudge at the door, I ...

Read Full Post

Series 4 Chandni Chowk Part 3 “We exist, though, don’t we?”

It is early morning when the two women, sighing heavily, shuffle their paperwork back into their proper files and exit the office. Mist envelops the city, and it is cold, but they pull their caps down over their ears and continue walking to the nearest bus stop. They do this while keeping up an incessant stream of chatter. “It’s sad, isn’t it?” the first woman says. She looks older than the other woman, taller, with crows’ feet around her eyes and wrinkles lining her cheeks. “They didn’t send her to jail, but now she’s stuck in the old age home. I really ...

Read Full Post

Series 4 Chandni Chowk Part 2 The moon has bruises

Later in the evening, the telephone rings. It is the adoption agency calling to tell you that your son has asked for your name and address and, as he is of age, he has been provided both. “He’ll be coming to see you soon, probably.” “This was just to inform you…” the woman over the phone says, in her uncaring monotone. “He’ll be coming to see you soon, probably.” “That’s all well and good,” you reply, rubbing at your forehead with a hand. “But you must be mistaken. I don’t have a s—.” The woman hangs up before you can complete the sentence. You ...

Read Full Post

Series 4 Chandni Chowk Part 1 Where roses bloom like bruises

When the bell rings, your hands are still covered with dirt from the garden. You hastily stick them under the tap beside the back door, toss the apron into the oven on your way into the hall, and swing open the front door. The neighbours, aunty number one and aunty number two, whose actual names you can never remember, are standing underneath the shade of the lemon tree. They fan themselves with their hands, their flabby arms moving up and down in an inconsequential rhythm. Aunty number one struts inside, her salon-dyed blonde hair revealing itself through her scarf. Aunty number ...

Read Full Post