Stories

He Was Martyred

He told me he’d come home early and cook dinner for us. He was very excited just the night before. Humaira burst out into a laughing fit at dinner table, “You cannot cook bhai jaan!”

He smiled and replied, “I’ll show you tomorrow. I’ll be better than you!”

He made a list of ingredients right after dinner, which he forbade me from taking a look, let alone peek.

“No ahmi jaan! It’s a surprise!” He kept on saying as he hugged his notepad to his chest and tapped the pencil on his study table.

I continued to observe him.

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Poems

I’m Free

My feet ache

Those anklets prick

These earrings are too heavy

 

But wait, what do I see?

 

Notes

That’s what I need

All I need

What am I even here for

 

My feet needs to ache

Those anklets can prick

These earrings will be heavy

 

But that treasure in their hands

 

Can take me to places

Perhaps far away from here

Rid of this guilt

An escape from such shame

 

A million tries won’t hurt

This is the time

My hands are glowing

 

But wait, will it happen?

 

She takes half of what I earn

I beg for mercy but

She throws me into another hall

I fall into the same trap again

 

My elegance is of the royal

Among the royal

Who don’t treat me like one

 

But all I can see is the treasure

 

I’m desperate, oh yes

I see an open window

My bag is packed

One gold bangle and a pair of earrings

 

It’s a success

I see the brightly lit street

Men with eyes full of lust

 

But, is this real?

 

I cover myself in a red shawl

And run out of the colony

The trishaw brings me into an orphanage

It’s filthy but it’s a good filth

 

A good filth, I’m free

Shoosh, don’t tell my mother I’m here

She’ll throw me into another hall.

 

– Parveen Maghera

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Stories

Two Red Balloons

The little boy walks up to his grandmother.

“Grandma, may I have two pennies please?”

Grandma frowns and snaps at him, “What do you need them for?”

The boy takes a step back and bites his lips. He looks down to the floor.

“I want to buy two red balloons,” he says softly.

“For whom?” Grandma questions sternly.

“For you,” he says.

Grandma turns her body towards him and frowns harder.

“And what would an eighty-year-old woman do with two red balloons?”

The boy looks up and smiles.

“You forgot again Grandma.”

“What did I forget?”

“Eighty-one, Grandma. Not eighty.”

Grandma’s frown disappears. She stares at her grandson whose eyes were gleaming in delight. He steps forward and grabs his grandmother’s hand, and whispers, “————….

She suddenly jolts awake. She looks around the bedroom. The glistening sun bathes the room, casting a hard shadow of her wooden chair on the floor. But the shadow looks different. She frowns and rings the bell.

“Rise and shine Mrs Hudson,” the nurse greets as she enters the bedroom. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

Mrs Hudson slowly lifts her arm and points her frail fingers towards the shadow on the floor, and asks in a faint voice, “What’s that on my chair?”

The nurse smiles and walks over. She holds her hand.

“He was here this morning but he didn’t let me wake you.”

Mrs Hudson looks at the nurse, confused.

“Hold on a second,” the nurse says.

She carries the chair and places it in front of the bed. Mrs Hudson’s eyes widen and a slight grin appears across her face, but her smile got wider each second.

“My little boy was here!” She exclaims.

“Oh no no Mrs Hudson. He’s a handsome teenager now.”

Mrs Hudson gives a hearty laughter.

“No you silly girl! He’ll remain my little boy forever, even when he gets his own little boy.”

“Well well, alright,” the nurse crosses her arms. “I’ll get you some tea.”

“Wait!” Mrs Hudson calls out. “There is a card. Pass it over.”

The nurse slips the card into Mrs Hudson’s hands and leaves to prepare tea. Mrs Hudson slowly opens the envelope and takes out a piece of paper.

Happy birthday Grandma. I hope you remember it’s your birthday today. You’re 95 years old. Five more years to make a century, ey? By the way, you owe me two pennies for those two red balloons on your chair. I’ll be there tonight. Do get ready! 

Love,

Your little boy ❤

 

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Poems

The Child of Freedom

You’re like that rose

Thorny but beautiful

They look at you

With eyes wide open

But child, don’t be afraid

It’s all a human game

A mind puzzle

They snatch your beauty

With just a gaze

But child, don’t be afraid

It’s your time to see the world

A world with roses

A world with thorns

But a blessing of love

Yes child, flap your wings

Soar up like a dove

Bring back the tranquility

The serenity, the peace

We long for it

Yes child, take a look

It’s a beautiful world

When we see the human race

As one family

Of love

 

Go child, it’s in your hands now.

 

– Parveen Maghera

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