Stories about literature in Pakistan

Salam and Shanti

Being in the army is like being caught in a revolving door. You see that settled life you so desperately want on the other side of the glass, just within your reach, but before you can join in, you’re on the move again. So there we were, posted to yet another place, to a pleasant city but a gloomy cantonment. I paid no heed to the eerie stories that our cook Abdul told me about the street we lived on. There were banyan trees lining the street, reminiscent of bearded men leaning on their sticks. I was sure the sight was ...

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Series 8: The Green Thumb Part 1 ‘Death changes everything, even innocence’

The house at the end of the street was possibly one of the most spacious and attractive ones in the area. With its tall French windows, red bricks, and magenta bougainvillea covering the carved front door and climbing to the roof of the second floor, it was as lovely as it was mysterious. Friends of the owners were also aware of the fruit trees in the open, spacious lawn at the back. The gardens had been lovingly cared for by the now deceased, green-thumbed Mrs Faizan. Mr Faizan did not have a green thumb and he was least bothered by the fact. His wife had enough of it ...

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That radio was what he craved

6:56pm “Will I see you on Thursday?” “Yes!” She smiled and hugged him before exiting the car. As he drove away, he turned on the radio, and waited. FM100. “Welcome back, listeners!” That voice. Why did she say those words just when he turned on the radio? Did she know that he would be waiting to hear exactly that? He felt a strange form of pleasure, and embraced it quickly. Wholeheartedly. As the radio show progressed, he slowed down his car and parked it on the side of the road. And listened. As she spoke, rambled, ranted and laughed. He laughed with her, from the comfort ...

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It was desperation that won in the end

“Manji di baoun waaj aandi… Bakhtu di jaag khul jaani.” (This charpayi makes too much noise… It will wake Bakhtu up.) Allah Ditta thought as he struggled to get up while making as little noise as possible. He glanced back at his sleeping son. He bowed down and planted a kiss upon his brow. Rushing out, he turned down his wife’s offer for breakfast, “Bakhtu jaag gaya te tenu pata fer…baharoun kha laisan kujh.” (What if Bakhtu wakes up? I will eat something there). These past few weeks had been nothing short of an ordeal for Allah Ditta. It was still dark out as ...

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Understanding Muslim nationalism and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’ through the eyes of Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Nadeem Farooq Paracha is one of Pakistan’s prominent liberal journalists. His plunge into the field began in the 1990s, even though he initially gained fame as a music critic. However, over the years, his writing has become fairly eclectic and he has touched upon many cultural and political aspects. Furthermore, he has also excelled as a satirist. He is the author of two bestselling books as well, titled ‘End of the Past’ and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’. The first book was centred on the way Pakistan started to transform from a moderate and pluralistic society to a more hard-line one. The latter, which was released recently, traces ...

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I could smell it, I could breathe it – Pakistan was near

It was very chilly for an August night. The moon played hide and seek behind pregnant clouds of white and grey but the winds were strong and the clouds did not stay above us for too long. We had travelled nights like these before and swayed many times during the course of the journey, but it had led us here and we were close. The town we had stopped in was unknown. It once had a name but it had long been abandoned when the news of Partition circled the country. They were smart people or maybe superstitious for no one really ...

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The runaway bride

A thousand stars glittered in the charcoal black sky. They were magnificent, almost magical. Rani loved the stars, the sky and the night. Every night she would wondrously gaze up at the sky and try to count the stars as they endlessly spread into the deep velvet of the night. But tonight was even better, mostly, different. It wasn’t usual for girls to sit outside a train station in their bridal gowns and stare into the endlessly starry sky. But Rani’s life had always been different and she made a bride the same way too – a different bride, a ‘runaway’ ...

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‘Exit West’ and ‘The Golden Legend’ could be Pakistan’s literary game-changers

This is a strong year for Pakistani fiction. Two excellent novels, ‘Exit West’ and ‘The Golden Legend’, by two excellent novelists, Mohsin Hamid and Nadeem Aslam, have been published to great critical acclaim. Another, ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie, is forthcoming in August and is already being endorsed by a plethora of writers. Historically, the Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world, has been won by Indian writers five times. No Pakistani writer has won it and only three, including Aslam and Hamid, have been nominated. This year, with two strong and worthy contenders, Pakistani writers have a great chance of featuring on the long ...

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You should expect nothing

There are days of glee and sorrow, There are days of wonder and freight, There are days of worry, insecurity — Thoughts that you’ve been victimised. There are protruding, menacing, cutting eyes, Staring. They watch your every move. It’s not some higher power or satan or big brother, It’s just all the people who expect something from you. And the days will pass you by. You will find new shores and highways. You will look beyond the roofs of Karachi, and the markets of Lahore. You will breathe in the stink of cities, leaving the Big Apple behind. You will see the world — not really, But it will be enough. They will wonder where you’ve gone, maybe they really do ...

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O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more

O’ Father, your prophecy lives on no more. The men with daggers for hearts walk the blood-soaked streets free and alive, With eyes colder than the Kashmir winds and veins warmer than Thar, they thrive, And all your children can do is close their eyes as the blood seeps into the roots, and from society, they drive. The women afraid of walking into the vegetable store, of all ages, Succumbing to the prying eyes, the filth that lay within the savages, They yell and scream, yell and scream, into the newspaper pages, And all your children can do is turn it over as a mere casualty in the inevitable collateral damages, O’ ...

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