Story Of The Month - September, 2021

Farewell by Ayesha Irfan - Pakistan

“I’m so proud of you!”

My eyes followed the source of the voice. Sudden lighting in the room made me close my eyes. I looked again after blinking a few times. My husband looked down at me with those teary brown eyes. His hands reached mine and gave a gentle squeeze. The door opened, capturing my husband’s attention.

I closed my eyes again. I felt tired. I knew they were talking but didn’t hear them. I took a deep breath trying to calm myself. The wave of sleep was engulfing me when a little cry of a little baby pulled me back up. My eyes opened in an instant. All the memories came back as to why my body felt like burning. I looked at my husband who was carrying our little newborn daughter. Tears engulfed my eyes as I looked at them. My arms raised to her unconsciously. My husband immediately asked the nurse to help me sit. He smiled at me and handed me my baby.

I couldn’t see her face properly as my eyes were filled with tears. I blinked those rebellious tears away. I saw her. I closed my eyes and smelled her scent.

“What’s her name?” The nurse asked.

“Her name is..”

The room began to shake up and down. My eyes opened and I looked at the old lady sitting in front of me. She was munching cookies she had in her little brown bag. The sound of the engine blasted in the air. I could see the mountains far away and the running grassland. A child ran across the train corridor.

What’s going on?

A man sat beside the munching lady. He looked like he was ready to go hiking, with his large hiking bag which he dragged along with him. He sat there quietly with his fingers intertwined. His eyes fixed on the seat in front of him, lost in thought...

 

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Story Of The Month - August, 2021

Anamnesis by Anum Khalid - Pakistan

“And yet again, a writing activity! I cannot even count how many times I have written these things for the writing activity and here I am writing once again. Every week, the doctor gives all of us a blank paper and a crayon to write or draw anything we want to. I usually write my memories of the past to run from the suffocating truths of the present or, to be honest, to revive my past so I don’t forget it, which I think I might as I am on drugs since 6 years. My past was not so mesmerizing that I don’t want to forget, but actually I don’t want to let go of my mother’s memories, the feeling of her lap, the way she loved me and protected me, the way she used to wait for me to get home every evening. I also don’t want to forget my birthdays when my mother used to bake me cakes with so much love even though later my step brothers used to destroy my birthday every time. I don’t want to forget the day when I first rode a bicycle on my own, which brought such happiness to my mother’s face even though my stepbrother pushed me later and the wounds on my chin had to get stitched. I don’t want to forget those days too when I got good marks in exams and when my mother kissed me on my forehead with tears and so much pride in her eyes, even later my step brothers burnt my certificates to ashes in front of my eyes. While sitting here, on a concrete cold bench in an open green area of a well-known psychiatric hospital, I can still feel her presence beside me; I can still smell her jasmine scent from my clothes which I used to get after every time I hugged her...

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Story Of The Month - July, 2021

Lost and Found by Anum Khalid - Pakistan

It was all going smoothly until that day, the day Rania Kamal would never forget till her last breath, the day when her life took such a turn that might make people think she was crazy but for her she took the best step of her life. That was the day when she was going to perform for her 50th concert. After unstoppable hard work, striving day and night, that day had come when she was going to perform for her 50th concert. It would not be just a classic celebration of 50th concert, but that was the occasion by which she was going to reach a whole new level of fame and glory as it was her first concert that was not only going to be live on national TV but will also be broadcasted live on an international platform. 

The day started with a usual excitement. She woke up early, took a last look at everything which was organized for the ceremony, got her makeup and hair done by one of the most famous makeup artists and hairstylists of the country. But just when everything was going perfectly with a luxury car standing outside her door and people from everywhere around the country gathered at Gaddafi Stadium just to hear her sing live, she went through the first panic attack of her life...

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Story Of The Month - May, 2021

The Revelation by Dirha Qazi - Pakistan

Belonging to an overcrowded urban city of Punjab,  the opportunity to spend approximately two months up in the mountains of Alazmir in mid of year was always unexhangeable. I had finished my graduation with English language and now was just another writer employed nowhere which was an inevitable by-product of English major in most of the cases, and yet I cherished it. The fun of being an unemployed writer was firstly that there was no payment, therefore no rush. You would only write what and when the right energy hit you and then the work produced would forever be authentic and pleasing. Secondly, I could take out time to trace my inspirations in various places and among various people; something freelance writers wouldn’t get time for. Every year, between July and August, I’d move up North with a friend or two, who would depart within a week and I’d stay back at my Mount Helicon to seek invocation...

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Story Of The Month - April, 2021

A Woman's Getaway by Ayesha Irfan - Pakistan

It was like she was grabbed from the deepest realm of the earth and pulled out through the sea. She took a few long breaths to clear her mind and know her surrounding. As the blurry image in front of her became lucid, she could see a face before her. A face that was unfamiliar to her. Confusion was lead into her with unknown emotions. She couldn’t control them as she leapt onto the person but was restrained by tied hands behind her back...

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Story Of The Month - March, 2021

The Wounded Connection by Ayesha Irfan - Pakistan

The hurried knock on the main door brought Lady Grace of the Winterbourne household back to reality. She could hear the footsteps of a maidservant reaching for the door a couple of halls away.  She wondered who the guest was in a lonely mansion. She closed the book shut. She was not reading it anyways.

“Please fetch Greta,” She stood up and said to the maidservant behind her. “Tell her I’ll soon be retiring for the night.”

Grace walked out to receive the guest, only to be stopped in the halls by Greta herself. The oldest maid of Winterbourne household stood before her with her grey hair tied to the back, lightlessness in eyes and hands intertwined together to stop them from shaking.

“Greta, do we have guests?” Grace asked as she encountered the maid.

“No, my lady.” Came in the thoughtful reply from Greta, but her fidgeting seemed like she wanted to say something more. Grace gave her some time but no other words came out of her mouth.

“Very good,” She said and turned to go to her bedchamber.

“My lady, there is something that should be brought to your knowledge.” The maid finally found the courage to speak. Grace turned around and looked at her.

“You must allow us!” Greta’s face was down.

“Not fond of riddles.”

“Well…” She started. “You see, the matter is-” but she was interrupted by the butler who stepped in the conversation knowing very well that the old maid would take longer than necessary to utter the required words.

“A wounded soldier, my lady. Just outside the outskirts of our land. He is critically injured.”

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Story Of The Month - February, 2021

The Tale of a Blank Page by Ayesha Irfan - Pakistan

This story starts with, well, the world. It is a big place. Thousands of cultures and countless variations. It is home to writers and artists all around. It is easy to think that they are all different, they are, really. Except for one significant similarity. There is a magical thing out there that makes their heart throb, their breathing shallow and their minds race. And that is the mere thought of encountering a blank page. Apparently its not a very substantial thing to a normal eye but it certainly holds great importance in the world of writers and artists. They imagine the world they are going to create, a world however they would like. Their mind already running a marathon about what they are going to do and how are they going to do it.

Then, the time comes. The time that they’ve been anticipating. They come face to face with a blank page. There is no need to wait anymore. The pencils start scribbling, the brushes start stroking. Then the blank page is not blank anymore.

The end.

This my friend, seems like a tale of every blank page. But that is not the case...

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Story Of The Month - January, 2021

The Vibrant Vibes of a Virus! by Ayeza Yousaf - Pakistan

The nature brought a brief hiatus to heal itself. It wanted to bring the distanced human souls together, to throw a spotlight on the raw and healthy food that was replaced by packaged or canned food, to bring the attentiveness to climate change and pollution, to make humans sense the peace of simple life that was substituted by material, mechanic life and above all to make them thankful for a healthy life and the world around them. Favorably, the viral pandemic proved to be as ellipses and not a full stop to the existence of humankind.         

It was late in the evening when my aunt called to confirm my presence at their son’s engagement at Sahiwal on Sunday. After making several excuses, I agreed to be there. Being an introvert, it was no less than a death sentence for me. But I was planning in my inmost mind to avoid that event somehow. I actually wanted some time to create new excuses. In dismay, I was sitting in the lounge, watching television with my evening tea when out of habit I turned to ARY news to hear their 7pm bulletin. Unexpectedly, that news bulletin changed my life because the rumor about outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan got confirmed. Every country in the world was announcing lockdowns and closing their borders. It was Thursday. I had hope...

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