When did they stop being a family?

The dark blue sky was aglow with a thousand shiny stars. “How pretty are the stars!” mused Mehnaz. She sat alone on the bench. No one was around, or at least, no one she could see. She took a cigarette out from her bag; it was the last one she had left. She searched for the lighter but couldn’t find it, so she kept rummaging through her bag until she finally concluded it wasn’t there. “Damn it!” Infuriated, she threw the cigarette on the grass, returning to her musing. A little while later, she picked it up and put it back in her bag. She ...

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December 30, 2018
 Hadia Malik
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What a ‘great’ start to the New Year

Amongst the silence, a flash of light rose into the air, exploding into a colourful flower of glitter. It was followed by several other explosions that lit up the midnight sky. The crowd roared, screaming, “Happy New Year!” Music blasted in the background as people danced and cheered. They shared their New Year’s resolutions, as it was a beginning of a new chapter of their lives, where they had to decide if they wanted to be a new version of themselves and live life to its fullest, or just continue with their same old routines. Large LED hologram animals danced in the ...

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Amidst the cold, chilly world, their hearts were warm

The sweet smell of gingerbread cookies filled the chilly air in the crowded market on Christmas Eve. A choir of young men and women stood in lines, singing cheery Christmas carols in their melodious voices. They wore black robes over their dresses and held gold candles in the palm of their hands. Amidst the crowd, a lush evergreen conifer tree sat in the middle of the marketplace. Beautiful ornaments of all colours covered the tree and glittered under the dim light of the tiny fairy lights which twinkled in warm shades of yellow, red and green. To complete the look, a large ...

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A brave, untamed, reckless kind of love

She looked up at the swaying inferno over her head and wondered, ‘did the flame in my heart… set the trees on fire?’ A lazy chill creeped into the air. Not the bite of winter, just a nip to announce that a brand new season was at hand. A lonely streetlamp cast an artificial glow onto the French pavement, illuminating fallen leaves in a garish of warm yellow light. Twilight bathed the Seine as the streets of the most romantic city in the world gilded in gold. The walkway ahead of her twisted like a silk scarf; twirling, leading into the horizon. The ...

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The day the heavens shook

March 28, 2004 Azad Kashmir was a world of beauty, splendour, tall mountains and green trees. “Papa! I love Kashmir! Can’t we live here forever,” Jahanara said innocently. Majid only laughed in response. He didn’t want to upset his little daughter by telling her that couldn’t be. Majid was an army officer. He got posted to new cities every two years. So far, Kashmir had been Jahanara’s favourite place. But she was only 11-years-old and had yet to see and explore most of Pakistan. Apart from the breathtaking landscape of Kashmir, Jahanara loved the place because of Afsah. She was the same age as ...

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The only reality in a world of make-believe

They say if you look at a person long enough, they will look back. It was a cold winter night. The kind where frosted beams of moonlight ascend as an enchantress and cast a spell with a mystical silver wand. Cool air driving away heat faster than bodies could replace it. The whole world slowed down under flossy, dove grey skies and people wrapped their arms tighter, pulling shawls, coats and themselves a little closer. Breaths became visible, almost tangible, under sporadic streetlights, as late autumn leaves crunched like sugar under hurried steps. The carnival crowd kept flowing in waves closer ...

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Born in between, without honour

A loud cry echoed throughout the silent room, followed by the hustle and bustle of nurses. Sighs of relief were let out along with cries of joy as smiles crept across everyone’s faces. The long-awaited guest had finally arrived. The father swirled in ecstasy as he leapt forward to take the little bundle of joy into his arms. However, this feeling of joy was quick to fade as the nurse brought forth the baby with her head bowed down in dismay. She walked past the joyous father and placed the small human wrapped cosily in a blanket into the mother’s ...

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For Neelum, life was only just beginning

Neelum sat by the window as rain spilled from an ashen sky. From the window, she saw a little girl, almost the same age as herself, scuttling in the rain with her father. She laughed as rain poured over her and her eyes twinkled happily. Neelum watched the little girl scurry down the street, with her father holding her hand protectively. Tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, and she crawled back into her grief of being an orphan. It was night, and the sky was full of stars. Neelum’s parents still hadn’t come back home. She felt sick with apprehension. ...

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There is a bluebird in my heart

This boy. He has refused to grow up. He is still stuck in the 80s in that small village of central Punjab. There. He is five and stubborn, still sitting on one of the two identical stones dug at the base of the haveli’s gigantic wooden gate’s posts. He seems to have become one with the stone. In 30 years, he has not moved; he has become immovable like the neem tree (Indian lilac) in the courtyard of the haveli. His Baba left this morning for Gilgit to join his unit there after a month-long leave. He saw him leaving in ...

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The final goodbye

My biggest secret was the letter written by my former husband, that now sat in my nightstand’s bottom drawer. The letter that had come along with my divorce papers. The letter that was my guilt, my regret. Even if I tried, I couldn’t ignore the fact that we had been dishonest. Salaar had always been a good person – kind and considerate. The biggest proof of this was probably the fact that despite my many shortcomings and mistakes, my husband had chosen to divorce cordially. But he had also chosen to lie to our parents about what happened rather than ...

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