A crushed rose

She sat on the steps outside the kitchen door, stroking the stalk of a beautiful rose that she had plucked from the garden earlier that morning, with a faint smile playing across her lips. From here, Kola could gaze out over the gardens that fronted the houses with low walls separating them from one another. She sat there, mesmerised by the surrounding beauty and devouring the sights of the big houses in the neighbourhood, one of many luxuries which she had never had to herself. Kola had started working as a house cleaner at a very young age, following in ...

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An open palm

“Are you alright?” “Just had the same nightmare.” His wife shook her head. “Why don’t you see a doctor? I’ve told you a hundred times.” This time he slowly shook his head, “A doctor can’t help with these. Can I tell you what I saw? (And without waiting) I’m sitting awake in this bed. You are next to me, asleep. Everything looks the way it’s looking right now, with the curtains drawn, the room cleaned and spotless except for the two plates on the table, and the dim light of the lamp falling on the bedside.” His wife looked around the room, confirmed the description, wondering ...

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Series 6 Was I a threat? Part 3 The dead princess

Ma stared at Saira’s lifeless body, unable to believe her eyes. She pulled her feet from the grasp of the floor and walked towards her. All kinds of thoughts crossed her mind in those few steps, which seemed to be taking an eternity to cover; Saira’s first steps which she had taken in this house. Her laugh that always resonated through the house echoed in her ears. She thought about how Saira always used to run around the house wearing a self-made tiara, asking everyone to call her ‘Princess Saira’. And now, the image of her princess’s immobile body was etched in ...

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September 25, 2016
 Saher Ismail
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Series 6 Was I a threat? Part 2 ‘Red candies’

“May I come in, Taya Abba?” Saira had somehow dragged herself to his house. Her dislike for him had turned into hatred ever since he made her quit school. She even hated staying in the same room as him. Well, at least she wasn’t going to suffer alone; she had Afzal with her. “Have you revised your lesson?” he asked, staring at her intently. “Yes.” She started to recite yesterday’s lesson. All the while Taya Abba’s eyes kept surveying her. “Come on, Apa! You know Taya Abba doesn’t like it when we’re late.” Afzal was running ahead of her. “You go ahead. I’ll catch up.” She pretended to catch her breath. As ...

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September 18, 2016
 Saher Ismail
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Series 6 Was I a threat? Part 1 “Please don’t dishonour us by going out all the time.”

Life in a small town such as Mansehra is quiet and serene. The name it has been given is justified; it truly is paradise on earth. It is the beauty of the district and the simplicity of life that always attracted tourists to visit during it their vacations. But simplicity, even though it is quite pleasing, has some boundaries attached to it. Saira, a young girl of the district, had lived in Mansehra all her life. She hadn’t been out to visit much either and all the contact she ever had had with the outer world was through television. Girls in the village ...

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Light lunchboxes

His daughter knocked on his door; only once. It was time for work and her school. He got up, stretching here and there, listening as individual muscles came out of slumber. After he was ready, he headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Each item appeared to be dripping. The electricity had been out throughout the night. He reached for the night’s leftovers and packed their lunch, first for her, and then for himself. She came to the kitchen shortly after. She was well-aware of her father’s strategies and how she ended up getting more of the leftovers. However she used to silently weigh ...

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The words not spoken

He had slept without removing his shoes. His parents watched him as they stood in the doorway. They smiled, went towards him and took off his shoes, one by one, gently, as if each had a life of its own. But his socks were quite moist and his feet felt cold. She looked at her son with concern, but her husband calmly motioned her to sit. Both of them sat as she wiped his feet with her hands and a cloth, and tucked him neatly into a blanket.  She switched the lights off, and as darkness submerged the boy’s room, they returned ...

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Dear Diary, maybe someday I will look back and wonder – if only

Present day The old man sat down on his chair and flipped opened the diary he had found in the storage room. It was dusty. He focused his gaze on the first page and started to read. January 3, 2000 Dear Diary, I woke up at 6:30 this morning, as I had planned. It was a little early, but this way I could leave for school while Abu was asleep. My new cricket kit is beautiful, although I do think I might have paid too much for it. It’s also pretty hard to disguise it from Ami’s CCTV eyes when I am leaving ...

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Series 5 Finding salvation Part 3 ‘I am free’

“I am Parvinder Kor! I boarded this train when partition was announced in 1947! I never reached my destination. Our entire train didn’t. Ours was a small village near this station. As partition was declared, my village people decided to move quickly. I was going to be married that night, but our village was under attack and so we left for the station in a hurry. All the areas surrounding our village were Muslim majority areas. They started killing our people in retaliation of their own kin dying on the other side of the country. So we fled for our lives. Our father hurried us ...

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Anonymous

August 13th, 2005 Hello Baba, Somewhere between home and nowhere, I write to you yet another letter in my head that I will never send. But then my heart must talk to yours for me to go on. I arrived in Chaman couple of weeks ago. This is my beat. These days I work at a hotel at Chaman bypass near Bughra road as a waiter. Yes, as a waiter. It is essentially a driver hotel but all kind of travelers stop by to stretch on charpoys, rest a while and eat food. The place is spread over more than two canals, of ...

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