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

Series 3 The Little Princess Part 4 Who’s the coward?

Muneezah gaped at him. Her brain tried to process this information. No words were spoken. Suddenly, her mother chuckled while eating her rice. The chuckle turned into high pitched laughter. Muneezah and her father stared at her while she guffawed for several minutes. Drawing a long breath, she said, “Jaffer! You are not man enough to fight in a real army. Don’t you know that by now?” Jaffer drew his chair back, threw the napkin on the table and stormed out. Muneezah started to say something but her mother cut her off, “Shut up! Clean this all up before you sleep!” ———————————————————————————————————- It had ...

Read Full Post

Series 3 The Little Princess Part 3 Nothing short of a tyrant

What came next was an eternity in hell. Her mother’s screams still pierce the air around her house. After what seemed like an eternity, the noises died out. The house seemed empty. Ammarah knew her mother was dead. Without hearing any gun shots or seeing her die, she knew her mother was no more. She didn’t cry though. With bone dry eyes and a scratchy throat, Ammarah attempted to climb down to her mother. She slipped several times. She steadied herself. The sight that met her eyes was beyond every explanation. There is an emotion beyond horror. It is beyond ...

Read Full Post

Series 3 The Little Princess Part 2 The message in my mother’s eyes

Slowly her mother rose from under the cabinet pulling Ammarah out with her. She rushed quietly to shut the drapes around the house, bolting windows and doors. Not quite understanding what was happening, Ammarah offered support by helping her. Finally her mother sank down on the living room couch, clutching her bosom and started sobbing. Ammarah put her arm around her and asked, “Mother, who were those people and where did they take everybody?” Her mother continued to cry hysterically. Ammarah stroked her shoulders but she was clueless as to what could comfort her mother right now. The sobbing diminished slowly. Her mother ...

Read Full Post

Series 3 The Little Princess Part 1 Blushing with fear

Women are creatures of the spring. Their hearts do not beat, they flutter. Their dispositions are sweet like honey and their eyes deep as oceans, their smiles light up their surrounding and their voices are like symphonies. They light up candles, make wishes, find shapes in the clouds, make sand castles and dream their days away. These are the fortunate ones though. When real life unleashes its raw cruelty, the spring turns to autumn. Hearts get torn apart, dispositions are rendered naked and the eyes… oh the eyes are the worst…They lose their sparkle; the oceans dry and leave giant ...

Read Full Post

My life as “chota”

“Chotay! Sab kaam chhor, sahab ke liye chai la!” (Junior! Leave everything else, bring tea for sir) “Chotay! Ustad ki bike pe kapra maar jaldi!” (Junior! Quickly clean your master’s bike) “Chotay! Abay chotay! Kisi kaam ka nahi hai tu, nikammay!” (Junior! You are good for nothing, you nincompoop!) My life revolves around these few phrases. Phrase that pierce through my 11-year-old heart. Did I choose this life? Did I wish to be in this position, where I am often looked at with sympathetic eyes and silent tongues? No. But I am thankful to God for giving me this life. This auto-mechanic garage is my home away from home. My safe ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “Checkmate” Part 8 In trying to forget, we remember instead

How could that possibly be? Why was Usman Khan’s name written in the father’s slot? Shamim Aunty’s husband’s name was Tanveer Ahmed, not Usman Khan. As I read on, the shock turned to nightmare; Abba jee’s name was written in the slot of wali (guardian). Tanveer Ahmed was one of the two required witnesses. Annie’s father, or the father I knew, was not listed as her father or her wali on her nikkahnama (marriage document) but a ‘witness’?? I read the document again, my mind in utter denial. Was Annie Usman Khan’s daughter? There were probably countless Usman Khans in the world, but it had to be ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “Checkmate” Part 7 Is she my daughter?

When we returned home, Abbu jee was away on a business trip. It took several years for the three of us to be able to finally sit together as a family, even for meals. I had withdrawn inside myself. All the vivacity and all the questions were gone. Life had answered them all. I got into Northwestern after my senior year and graduated with honours from my high school. If Abba jee was proud, he didn’t say anything. The disappointment I had plated out to him had made all my other accomplishments unpalatable. Ammi jee was happy. She was attempting to move on and I took ...

Read Full Post

Series 2: “Checkmate” Part 6 Shhh… No one needs to know anything

It wasn’t long before we got serious enough to talk about getting engaged. We planned on going to the same college and then getting married after four years of undergraduate studies. We didn’t tell anyone and continued spending a lot of time together; more than we should have. Then Usman started hearing back from the colleges to which he had applied. As expected, he had been accepted into some of the very good ones like the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) in California, New York University (NYU) in New York, and Brown University ...

Read Full Post