The cold wind

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The cold wind stabbed at him repeatedly, no matter how much he crouched or tried to cover his torso, the wind would again find room to sink the icy dagger. There wasn’t much he could do about it except maybe go home, but that wasn’t an option. He had run away from home 6 months before and now the streets were his home.

His home was now the sidewalk, his bed was nothing more than a few cardboard boxes spread out. Now after 6 months of misery, he wanted to go home, bathe in clean water, eat home cooked food; but he didn’t know how to go and more importantly where to go.

He was feeling a little feverish, he missed having someone take care of him. The safety of his father’s presence, the warmth of his mother’s love. He missed his family more on this cold night than he had before. With chattering teeth he huddled in a warm corner of the cold pavement. The damp cardboard did not do much for warmth, but the make shift blanket did a lot to blunt the icy gusts prodding his back.
Exhaustion finally won the battle from the cold winds as he drifted off to a dreamless sleep – his only escape from his harsh reality.

 

A Bloody Affair

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By Krishna Menon He spat blood again and watched thin veins of crimson disappear down the drain. He was sweating profusely and his glasses had slid down his nose. The reek of blood made him sick. H…

Source: A Bloody Affair

No need to say goodbye- flash fiction

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“How much could it hurt? A few moments of pain and then what?”

“Depends on what you believe. If you’ve been a good person then those moments of pain will be all that you feel. If not then those few excruciating moments will be the least of your worries.”

“Why?”

“An eternity of suffering awaits you. They say the real journey starts afterwards, this was but a little stop before your final destination.”

“What’s the other belief?”

“The other belief is that there is nothing afterwards, so a few moments of pain will be all you feel. You will fade into nothing- it is an escape route.”

“I want an escape how do I get it?”She asked anxiously

“Look for an opportunity” He replied, beginning to caress the beads in his rosary. His eyes were focused on the ground,
“Until then my child,” He glanced up making eye contact with the veiled lady for the first time during their meeting. “Have patience” he advised giving her a sympathetic smile. His kind black eyes again focused on the ground as he started meditating again indicating that their meeting had ended.

She got up and thanked the “Pir” (Holy Man) for his counsel and left the little room. She quietly and swiftly made her way back to her house, grateful for the veil on her face to avoid recognition from any acquaintance in this neighborhood filled with residents bearing questionable morals.

Maria entered her house from the back door, as quietly as possible to avoid getting caught by her paranoid husband.

She was virtually a prisoner at her house. She took off her veil as she stood in front of the mirror, something which she seldom did these days. Hazel eyes stared back at her as she stroked her cheeks lightly, it was exactly as the nurse in the burn ward had predicted. The burns had healed, but the scars remained.

She hated her reflection now, her beautiful face, her pride, was now horribly disfigured and the reason she decided to wear the veil outdoors.

Her husband had thrown acid on her face a few months before when he saw that she laughed at her neighbor’s son for making a funny remark about her husband. What started as a harmless joke quickly escalated into a shouting match. In a fit of rage, her husband got the bottle of acid from under the sink, opened the cap and grabbed her by the arm.
“Laugh one more time! I dare you!” He snarled at her.
Scared, she could not muster any response just a broken, throaty and sobbing apology, as she felt the first sting of the liquid pierce through the flesh on her face leaving her writhing in agony.

It was a full two hours before she got medical help. After this incident she started covering her face citing religious reasons- a white lie she told to avoid uncomfortable discussions.
The bottle of acid was still there, half empty, under the sink.
It was after the incident that someone referred her to the Pir. His suggestions didn’t make much of a difference to her life, but she did breathe a little easier being able to discuss with someone the issues bothering her with a degree of comfort without being judged.

That night, she was going to take an opportunity, her patience was wearing thin. She needed to get out.
She was very polite to him that night- extra attentive to his needs. She also made him a cup of tea before sleeping, something she hadn’t done since the acid incident. After he fell asleep, she got the bottle of acid from underneath the sink and dribbled some on his slippers. She then left to pack her things, which didn’t take very long give the limited number of worldly possessions her husband had allowed her to own. She then stood by her husband’s head and emptied the acid bottles content on his face and torso. The silent night was pierced by a blood curdling scream as her husband awoke to the agonizing sensation of stinging flesh. The scream intensified after he stepped in to his damp slippers.
She watched in silence the pandemonium unfolding in front of her- her husband sprinting blindly in the house trying to soothe his burning flesh. She called an ambulance and slipped out of the house. At 3 in the morning, she watched from a far as an ambulance finally picked up her wailing husband as the ambulance passed by her, she wondered if she should do something. She started to move in the direction of the ambulance and then stopped. There was no need to say good bye she thought as she walk into the graying skies.

Flash Fiction-The curious case of the mineral water

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An acquaintance of mine told me the story of how the mind can influence the body
Here’s the story:
My father’s brother came to Pakistan from America after a gap of 11 years. My uncle was a serious victim of germophobia and thought that the boiled water here was dirty. Consequently, he had an upset stomach drinking the ‘dirty’ boiled water. In order to salvage his brother’s stomach, my father bought a gallon of some mineral water and all was well. In those days mineral water had been newly launched in the market and was considered a luxury, so understandably the rest of the family questioned the logic behind the expense for such a luxury.

One fine day, as we were sitting for lunch, my uncle mentioned to my father that he was out of mineral water and needed some more. My father had just started his meal and was really angry at the timing of my uncle’s request. In his haste to get back to lunch, he did not go to the bottle wala and buy a new gallon, instead he filled the gallon with tap water and just shut the door loudly to ensure that my uncle heard him coming back. He tipped the contents of the gallon into a bottle and brought it to the table. My uncle was satisfied that he was having ‘mineral’ water and spent the rest of his trip drinking what was in fact, tap water. There were no further bouts of repeated trips to the bathroom and my uncle returned to America with a healthy stomach.

As you can see mineral water is just an illusion for fooling the elite class of Pakistan, for people coming from abroad doctors recommend double-boiled water and urge the visitors to avoid to drink mineral water.
I mean we don’t know how they get the water, it could be sewage treated water for all we know. To further demonstrate my point, i want the readers to watch the  Tuxedo opening scene the film starring Jackie Chan.

Mineral Water

Mineral Water

The lying lady- Flash fiction

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This is a translation of a short story that was written in Urdu.

The sun was at its hottest when he reached home from school. Upon entering the house, he felt his mother’s face light up at his sight. She smiled and said wash up and change your clothes, I will bring your lunch.
He changed his clothes, he wasn’t looking forward to lunch. Instead of the usual vegetables and lentils, a plate of his favorite dish was steaming on the table along with a bowl of dessert and juice.
He asked his mother if everything was alright? She said guests had come over today which is why she cooked so much. He asked his mother to eat with him. She said she already ate with the guests and was completely full.
“Eat up the food is getting cold.” His mother told him lovingly as she left for the kitchen to tidy up. He used to detest lunch everyday, but today his favorites were on the table and he quickly gobbled up his food.
He picked up his plates and went to the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen he saw the lying lady sitting on the floor eating stale bread with water like a starving person.

That’s her- Flash Fiction

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I did it- I took a leap of faith and followed my heart, a few seconds of courage is all it took. I was feeling elated, the sensation of adrenaline rushing through your veins is indescribable. You feel your heart throbbing right behind your ear, a rush of euphoria fills you.  You can feel the separate drops of sweat forming on your neck; slowly trickling down your nape forming tiny rivulets.

“I take it that she said yes?” Adnan asked

“How did you know?”

Adnan smiled- “It’s practically written on your face. Well that and she told me to cover for her tomorrow afternoon.”

I smiled still basking in the triumphant feeling of a gamble coming off.

“So, where are you taking her?”

I paused- “I don’t know, I didn’t think that she would say yes.”

“How about a movie?” Adnan suggested

“No spending three hours with barely an opportunity to talk?” I countered twirling my moustache.

“How about lunch by the beach and a short walk afterwards?” I asked Adnan.

“Well that’s not a bad idea, but does she know that your interest in her is romantic?” Adnan asked.

“I think so, she did agree to come alone. Plus she also laughed at my jokes”

Adnan stared at me in mock surprise “Never let her go dude.”

“What? I can be funny, can’t I?”

Adnan rolled his eyes and shook his head.

I made my way back to my desk, I had admired for her for the last six months. Granted she was good looking but that wasn’t why I was attracted to her. No it was her kindness that caught my eye. The first time she caught my eye was when she gave half her sandwich to the little errand boy in our office. Though usually a sharp talking individual, the tenderness she showed when giving her food to the little kid was heart warming.

Over the six month period she regularly shared her lunch with the little boy- Talal was his name. He was around 11 and did the work of a full grown person- serving  tea to the people in the office and making countless runs to the stores for various things.

Our lunch hour started from 1 and ended at 2. Every day at precisely 1.50 when Talal would place the pot of water for the afternoon tea, she would make her way to the little makeshift kitchen counter we had in our office. She would look over her shoulder to check whether anybody was watching, this was my cue to pretend to be engrossed in my desktop, usually it involved counting the number of folders on my desktop.

I used to peek from behind my monitor as she always slid her lunch box to Talal and whisper in a conspirational tone “Talal please clean this” with the emphasis on clean.

The kid always smiled and used to say “Thanks baji!” Then he proceeded to eat whatever tasty morsel was in the box, usually a sandwich.

We made small talk after the first time I saw her doing the lunch thing. There is something about falling for someone, that you start to notice all their small quirks and you like all of them.

Anyways the big day arrived and we both agreed to get our orders to go. We each had a burger in hand as we sat down on some rocks watching the tides break against the rocks further out on shore. The conversation was light and interesting. By around 1.30  she started glancing at her watch and wrapped half her burger and placed it in the paper bag that we had originally gotten our order in. I knew what was coming so I told her ” Don’t worry about Talal today,” she looked a little surprised that I knew about that. ” Today I’ve taken care of it.”

She looked relieved and then I confessed to her that it was the reason I had noticed her.

“Taroo!” was her response to my confession implying that I was a gawker.

She had scrunched her nose squinting at me with her grey eyes.

I tensed up for a bit fearing I had said too much.

“So you don’t think that I am good looking?” She asked with mischief in her eyes

“Lets go, we’ve got to be on time.” I said getting up dusting off the seat of my pants.

“I’m in no hurry” she said

“Well I am- Adnan was supposed to be covering for me, but you asked him first.” I grumpily said.

“Alright, but you didn’t answer my question, you don’t think that I am good looking?”

“You’re just fishing for compliments” I smirked. “Besides, I don’t think it makes a lot of difference whether I think you are good looking or not”

“Well,” she hesitated and then said “It makes a lot of difference to me,” her expression was serious now.

“You look like the most beautiful girl in the world,” I said hoping she would catch on to the joke

“Who?” She demanded

“You!” I replied laughing at the ridiculousness of my joke.

She also laughed as we made our journey back to the office. As we were making our way to the kitchen, Adnan came up to us and asked “how was it?” as he fished out his mobile from his pocket, not wanting to sound too enthusiastic in front of her; I just gave him a thumbs up and a nod. She also nodded and said “Best conversation I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for everything” She paused-I didn’t notice Adnan focusing his phone towards me as I focused on her. “Bhai!” (by calling me a brother, she effectively was friend zoning me). My expression turned from attentive to shock to anger.

She and Adnan burst out laughing and she hurriedly added in between peals of laughter “Just kidding!, I wish you could have seen the look on your face!”

Adnan amidst his laughter also managed to get out the words “Actually, you can!” He showed me his phone “I caught it on video!”

There I stood between two laughing people finally able to grasp the concept of bittersweet.