Fiction

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This is the translation of ‘Jawab Do’ – one of the 22 short stories written, originally in Urdu, by Ghulam Nabi Shahid in his book Eelan Jaari Hai (The declaration/announcement continues) Heads lowered, all of them in small groups of two-to-three holding placards in their hands were silently marching towards the park located in the heart of the city centre where they would assemble on the 10th of every month to stage protests for the last so many years. Right in the middle of the city, and in between the two prominent markets, this park is centre of attraction for

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If I had not been in the company Kotha-e-Aval, the First Donkey, I swear by all the horrors hidden under the dark shroud that covers this land, I would be dead now. We were thrown through the air by the force of the blasted trap. It went off just as we crossed the bridge. Our carriage was split into two. A thick plume of dusty smoke rose up below us. The screams of frightened birds punctuated the stench of burning flesh. I was meant to be travelling with the body guards, but at the last minute, Khotha-e-Aval made me swap

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soap-woar! soap-woar! soap-woar! Koap-woar! Koap-woar! Koap-woar! Hund-woar! Hund-woar! Hund-woar! It’s barely 7AM but Batmaloo bus stand has burst forth onto the day, its quotidian cacophonies spilling over far beyond itself like the warmth of a bukhari – you feel its presence even before you see it, you know you have reached when you are a kilometre away. Once inside, Adil, Imran, and Nadira pick their way through the sounds and colours of fruit sellers and chaiwallahs, shops selling snacks and untidy lines of buses minivans and Sumos. All morning there has been a gentle flurry of snow, wafting over the

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Clouds of odorous smoke billowed out from under the two iron channels where the shutter of Ab Jaan’s waan fit. Not presuming it to be very hot, Ab Jaan singed his fingers when he touched the shutter. The paint on the signboard above the shop was blistered, the brightly lettered sign ‘GR JOO GENERAL STORE’ beginning to flake off. He slipped a giant claw hammer under the shutter to jimmy it and pry it open. The shop was full of sourly pungent smoke. The bars of soap stacked on one of the shelves had melted; the packets of salt and

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Masterjee, the most noble and gentle person of our hamlet used to teach students of whole village. He used to give more sermons than lectures. He had kept provision for poor and orphan students and never took a penny from them. He used to distribute books to the needy ones and focused more on advices. He was very generous both in teaching and personal life. Keeping his status and nobleness in mind, my mother often advised me to visit his home and learn from him. Many of my friends used to go there in order to learn what was beyond

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People would call me Jan Soab, they still do, but with some suffixes added like Janti or Janatgaar. I left my body last Saturday. Since people believe that time heals everything, my last night in this odd world passed in a hospital where I was kept till morning to subside the grief the news of my sudden death would bring to my closed ones. Since Sunday, I am in the womb of earth.  Being dead does not hurt but dying did. On Saturday late afternoon, when my bike collided with a passenger van due to my unskilled riding and God’s

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Through the alleys of the giant library, walled with rags and book volumes, I was walking. Fragrance of old paper was inspiring me to continue my journey. On my both sides, there were books. Books with hardbound cover, which occupied major shelves, and books with paper back. My eyes were swirling from left to right to copy everything they could catch when a book of quotations caught my sight. I commenced to read some from the book. I found a quote of Osho but when I was about to finish a voice disconcerted me. I finished the quote and was

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  “Will you tell these stories in your papers?” Amala squints up at Reva’s oval face. She really looks very much like her sister Meera. Only, taller, like Amala. But impatient. “Auntie, this is all part of history. Some I may tell, whatever is relevant.” That’s how American universities think, Amala makes a face. Relevance is not what these foreigners know. They always look for unfamiliar stories, strange tales and faraway faces. Relevance is what Amala cherishes. Like the dream she has now and then. Reva finds a photo. That’s grandpa! Now even grandpa will be material for your paper,

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He looked into the sky and realized that its blue colour had resigned to red. The sun was setting. He turned his face to the reflection of sun forming a line in the waters of Dal Lake and followed it down. There, he saw his grandchildren playing, trying to catch tiny fishes in a bottle. “Shhhhh… Keep quiet. You are frightening the fish. Let them come,” said one of his grandchildren to the other. He was sitting on a platform that extended a little into the lake. It had stairs on one side that landed on the water’s surface where

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I didn’t go to school today. My uncle says I am happy being home. Father, too, thinks I am happy. But I am sad and mother knows it. I didn’t tell her. She looks at me and smiles a little bit and then looks at my face as if looking for something.  She knows I don’t cry in the day, in public; but when I go to bed, she gently rubs the tears off my eyes. She says everything will be alright, she repeats each night. And I feel better when she says this- I feel warm sunlight on my

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