Bad Men’s Night Out

Who was onto whom; that was the question.

There was an accident. The bus driver drove into the rocky hill. The bus was empty except the driver and the conductor, only one of whom had survived. No injuries. Not even a crease on his forehead. The conductor got off the bus and contemplated setting the whole thing on fire. The road was empty. It was the road leading up to the Postal Colony. No one was going to be caught dead on that road. Except the driver, of course. He was going to be caught very dead.

The conductor hadn’t thought the whole thing through and before he could decide his next move, Zakir heard sharp whistles from around the corner. The sound cut through the foggy air and stabbed Zakir’s throat. The young man stood petrified, thinking he had been caught. Caught before the crime was even over. Zakir’s father would have had a good laugh.

Anjum was preoccupied. He was thinking of his victory tonight, the euphoria of it so strong it made him fearless. He could do anything in that moment. Even be the king of the world like Shahrukh Khan in Om Shanti Om. Anjum laughed, imagining himself holding his trophy, the young boy’s decapitated head, in his right hand and a microphone in his left hand. “Itni shidaat se main ne tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai, ke har zaare ne mujhe tumse milane ki” he paused and smiled, “saazish ki hai.” He shook his head, as if he realized how silly he was being, and looked up really focusing on the world around him. Under the single flickering street light, moved a shadow. Someone was hiding behind a bus that had hit the rocky hill.

The illusion of invulnerability was strong. It made Anjum cocky. Instead of minding his business and walking as far away from the scene as possible, he decided to play with the obviously scared prey. He darted towards the bus, purposefully clapping his chappal against the heel of his feet. Quick hard steps were meant to inspire fear of a confident predator, brave enough to venture-actually stroll-in the dark night on the scariest road in Chabhri.

Zakir entered the bus quickly, hiding behind one of the chairs. He wasn’t sure if the stranger had noticed him but he hoped the man would find the dead driver and run away out of fear instead of trying to probe further into the matter. He heard the approaching footsteps and wiped the cold sweat off his forehead.

Anjum sprung on the bus and let out a playful “aha!” He saw the driver with his head down in the front seat and before he took another step, he knew the man was dead. He could smell the blood. Anjum walked towards the dead body and took a closer look. Blood. Too much of it. An accident doesn’t cause that kind of blood loss. He grabbed the dead man’s shoulder and pulled him back. Blood sprouted out of his jugular and Anjum jumped back in time to avoid getting any of it on his kurta. Someone had cut the driver’s throat open. The accident was a set up.

Suddenly realizing that the shadow could not have been of the driver and that whoever it belonged to was likely the murderer, Anjum turned around. Spotting Zakir wasn’t hard. The young man was shaking too hard, all the while being visible from above the seat.

“Oye!” Anjum called to him. “Get out. I can see you.”

Used to following orders, Zakir got out immediately despite his fear. He had been caught. There was no use of fighting back. Anjum leapt towards Zakir and got a closer look.

“Look at me,” he said and Zakir looked up, still trembling. Anjum saw the blood splattered on Zakir’s face and almost laughed but controlled himself by biting his lip. Zakir saw the blood on Anjum’s teeth and the nail marks on his cheek as if someone had tried to push him away.

There were two murderers in the bus; Zakir, the eighteen year old bus conductor, and Anjum, the thirty one year old pedophile. Before the two could acknowledge their identical situations, they heard a car speed up to the bus.

It was a small Mehran with two giant men sitting in the front seats. The two popped out of the car to look into the bus. Sajid and Wahab were notorious robbers, always looking for buses to loot in the dark of the night. The second they walked into the bus, all four men’s fates were sealed.


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Foreplay

The new boy met Paras in the courtyard everyday after school. They discussed the latest Game of Thrones episodes and ate roasted nuts together. Sometimes they played badminton. The new boy wasn’t that new anymore; he had admitted into the eighth grade three months ago. He promised Paras they’d study together for the mid terms.

A week before the exams, the two met at their usual spot. Paras greeted him with enthusiasm that hadn’t vained over the past three months. Every day, Paras would notice something new: his dimple, his thick lashes, his confident eyes, his coy smile. Every day, he’d look more beautiful. And then he’d rub his hand against hers or pick a flower and bring it for or quote Rupi Kaur. Today, she noticed his smile become suspiciously more coy, his confident eyes hooded, a crease on his forehead. He looked intense. She got excited.

He led her to the library. The school was out but they had a few hours before the library shut down. The librarian sat in the corner paid no heed to the young couple so they found a spot in the far end and got to work. Hamlet had never felt so arousing. Paras didn’t understand why she couldn’t focus, why her face felt hot and her stomach felt heavy.

He noticed her excitement and he toyed with her, touching her on purpose but without any purpose. Slight, soft touches. A flick of the finger with hers, a slight rub on the arm, a breath on her cheek.

Then came the hand on her thigh. She closed her eyes, blushing, and letting her pencil roll over from her open palm on the table. He picked the pencil up with his free hand and found her index finger. One hand on her thigh, unmoving, the other holding the pencil and pressing the nib on the tip of her finger. Her eyes stayed closed while his were wide open.

This was what all fifteen years of his life were leading up to. This was the foreplay to his late thirties when he would live with his wife in a four bedroom house, each bedroom witness to a new kind of violence. The pencil pricked her skin and she bled but Paras didn’t budge. She couldn’t, until he moved his hand from her thigh. Only then did she feel the sting, and retreated her finger. She didn’t understand what had happened. Her eyes had watered and she gave him a questioning stare. Why?

The boy only shrugged. Did there have to be a reason why? He let the pencil go and rubbed his sweaty hands on his pants.

The moment passed.


Goodbye, Ma

Inspired by a true story.


The ventilator was off. This time, Ma looked a lot better. Her dentures were sitting next to her on the side table. Their absence made her face look collapsed. It wasn’t odd because we’d been looking at the same face for seven years now. Those were seven years of adult diapers, bed sores, emergency trips to the ICU and a lot of shouting. Sometimes there was so much shouting that we didn’t realize who the voice belonged to. Every voice had changed into noise. All because Ma wouldn’t give in. She wouldn’t let go.

Ma had lived seventy whole years. It was her birthday eight days ago. We spent it by tying her hands to the sides of her bed so she wouldn’t rip her drips out in the middle of the night. Some days she was really powerful. She would cry and swear at the nurses. Other days she struggled to breathe. And once in a blue moon, she stopped breathing all together and we’d have to put up the ventilator.

The fluctuations in her condition were the worst. When she’d be OK, we would scream at her, threaten to throw her out of the house. It was easier to blame her for our collective misery when she was able to stare back at us with contempt. But on days she couldn’t breathe, it was harder to hate her. It was difficult to accept that she might actually die and then there wouldn’t be anyone to blame for our misery. Then, we wouldn’t be in collective misery.

Today, Ma looked better. Peaceful. The ventilator always made her mouth look twisted from where the tubes were inserted into it. The strange hissing sound of her breathing and the abrupt movement of her chest gave me the creeps. With all the artificial breathing out of the way, Ma looked like more like herself. I had brought out her dentures from her dresser even though she hadn’t used them for ages. I wanted her to look like her real self today. I placed the dentures in her mouth and her face regained some structure.

She looked pale like people are supposed to look in death but her mouth wasn’t twisted like she was scowling or in pain. It was open, like she was sleeping and having a wonderful dream.

I knew this made me a murderer but it had to be done. Stifling her by turning off a machine was better than killing her slowly with the hatred that festered in our hearts on a daily basis. The woman hooked to machines and bottles of colorful drips wasn’t my Ma, anyway. It was just her body. Ma died seven years ago. We were just delaying a funeral.

No more. The garlands were ready.

Goodbye, Ma.


 

Loved To Death

Trigger Warning: Sensitive content ahead.


We were at Daawat. The new restaurant in the Old Food Street, you know? It was dinner time. We ordered Sheeshtu Boti and the Laal Handi. The food tasted amazing. We ordered Gajar ka Halwa in desert. Kept it real traditional, sitting at the roof top in front of Badshahi Masjid. She wore a short a chooridaar pajama under a yellow kameez with patches of orange flowery embroidery spewed here and there. She was always wearing the same kind of shit from the same designers. Sana Safinaz and Agha Noor on the good days, and Khaadi and Sapphire on the OK ones. Today was a good day. She knew it. That’s why she curled her hair and even put on eye liner. She couldn’t do makeup for shit but she tried for my sake. We were in love.

“You look extra handsome in shalwaar kurta.” She winked at me. We were comfortable enough so she was alright with saying things like that. Hell, she even told her parents about me. She didn’t have to. Not like they were going to meet me or get to know about me. They lived in Karachi while we were in Lahore. It was our last semester in college.

I told her she looked great too. Frankly, she could have chosen a better lipstick color.

“What’s the occasion?” She asked after swallowing a bite of the hot halwa, her eyes watering a little.

I pretended to have burnt my tongue too, buying myself time. “You know,” I sipped my glass of water, “just because. It had been some time.” A shit response. She could tell.

“So you’re telling me that you brought me out for dinner on a Thursday night just…because?” She smiled playfully. God, she was already anticipating it. There was no point in delaying it then.

I asked her to follow me to the roof top…above the roof top. It was a small place, enclosed from three sides and open from the side opposite the Badshahi Mosque. The construction wasn’t complete and it was dangerous going up there but my friend’s father owned the place so I called some favors in and got that little dangerous spot set up. It was so perfect, man. They set up the lights and the balloons and put on Taylor Swift on the portable speaker I’s provided. She was a Taylor Swift fan so it made sense. Can you believe it? Taylor Swif-

Anyway. It was perfect. Nobody could see us. I asked her to close her eyes. Had my hands covering them as we went up the stairs. Usually, she would’ve freaked. “Your hands covering my eyes as we climb some dodgy stairs? No way!” She would say. But she knew what was coming so she didn’t protest once. Taylor Swift’s Our Song pretty much told her what was up before I asked her to open her eyes.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” She freaked. “You’re…we’re really doing this!” She jumped into my arms. I hugged her back. Honestly, I really needed the comfort.

I backed up a little and looked into her eyes. They were gleaming. She was going to cry. “I promised you this day would come. I had to fulfill my promise.” She giggled and a tear fell down her cheek.

I took her by the hand and walked her over to the center of the little roof. We both just stood there, trying to spot that fine line where the dark sky met the scattered lights beneath us while Taylor kept singing our song. TheShe kept her head onto my shoulder. It was beautiful. I had goosebumps on my arms and I really wished to roll my kurta sleeves down but she didn’t find that attractive so I let them be. Instead I retrieved what I needed from my pocket and took a deep breath. It was time to pop the question.

“Natalia…” I whispered. My voice was shaking, man, I was so nervous.

She leaned back, bracing herself. I cleared my throat and tried again. “Natalia…I…I love you. I can’t imagine my life without you. And…I…” She could tell it was tough for me.

“You don’t have to say it,” she said, “I know. I love you too. You’ve no idea how long I’ve waited for this day. I’m so glad I can have it with you.” Tears were in full flow now. The silent kind. Tears of happiness, you know?

Her gaze went to my hand and she looked back at me questioningly.

“Um yeah,” I nodded, “this is a little something I thought of.”

I handed her a blindfold and kept one for myself. “This will make it easier. We can just…dance until…we cannot anymore.”

She laughed abruptly and more tears fell down to her neck, forming a trail to her cleavage. Her laughter stopped as abruptly as it had started as she followed my gaze to her chest. She took her orange chiffon dupatta off from her shoulder and wiped her face clean. Her eye liner got smudged. So did her lipstick. She suddenly looked great, man. She looked so real. It was like all that time she was just made up and now was the first time I’d seen the real her. It was just…something.

She pulled her dupatta on to her head. Covered it up real good. I couldn’t see a single curl left out. It was like she was preparing for a ritual. And I guess she was. She put on the blindfold over her dupatta. The song changed to Taylor’s Ours. I put my blindfold on too.

It went dark too fast. I extended my arm and felt around air to find her hand as my eyes adjusted to the new dark. She was looking for me too. I pulled her closer, one hand on her waist, the other grasping her hand. I could make out a soft silhouette as I brought her nearer to me. We swayed, holding each other close, not daring to move more than an inch. Our bodies were shaking. We were shivering. Hell, my blindfold was wet with tears. I could hear her quiet sobs too.

I don’t know what gave me strength. Maybe it was the music or her body’s warmth, but I dared to move a step behind. She followed suit. A step forward. A little to the right. Then left. Then forward. Forward. Left. Forward. Forward. We knew what we were doing. The more we dared, the braver we felt. Then I released her waist and she rolled a few steps forward only to quickly bump back into my arms. She hugged me tight this time but we didn’t stop swaying. I almost thought it was done. We weren’t going to go through with it. I was wrong. She let go of me and took a step away from me.

“What…where…” I couldn’t form the question.

“Relax,” she was having trouble keeping her voice steady. I just want to dance freely. Let my body loose.”

I didn’t tell her that Ours wasn’t the kind of song you could let loose to even though I wanted to have a final chance to attack Taylor Swift. I also didn’t beg her to hold me again. Didn’t tell her I was terrified. We just kept dancing. I saw her silhouette sway back and forth with me, not quite able to tell what she looked like in that moment. I imagined her arms in the air, eyes closed. The way she used to dance at the rave parties, looking out of place in her shalwar kameez but totally at home and in sync with the music and her agile moves. I imagined what I looked like. Always standing awkwardly beside her. Always watching her. Always not saying the things I wanted to say.

And I was in the middle of imagining all that when her silhouette disappeared. I heard her scream, the screeching sound getting farther away from me with every mini second. I ripped my blindfold off and ran to the edge. From fifteen stories above where she had fallen, I couldn’t even spot her. It was too dark. It was too much.

I could hear people coming upstairs. Or gathering down there. I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I had to make a quick choice. Either I followed her and jumped like we’d planned or I betrayed her and dealt with the mess she had left behind. The choice was luckily made for me. I fainted. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital room not being able to speak or move a single body part. Took me a few days to recover and here I am, telling you the story of how my girlfriend undulated to her death.

It wasn’t fair. She had to…she died…listening to Taylor Swift. Not goddamn fair.

Kinky Classroom

“Turn around.”

I did.

“Take those off.” He jabbed my shalwar with his walking stick.

I did.

“Bend.”

I did.

He stood up from his seat and limped closer to me. He had recently fractured his leg in a car accident. The class had been studying the Pythagoras theorem from a substitute teacher called Ma’am Annie for the time he didn’t come to class. He was recovering, he told us the first day he got back. He hoped we had missed him, he said with a chuckle. Nervous smiles followed.

Nobody was smiling now, though. As I stood, bent and half naked, my gaping backside facing the room full of thirty four boys, the class observed pin drop silence. Ma’am Annie would’ve been surprised to see us so quiet. We were a rowdy lot.

“Do you feel sorry for what you did?” He asked as soon as he came to stood right behind me.

“Yes…sorry…” I mumbled. I wouldn’t have been able to manage a single word out of fear but we were taught to always respond as soon as a question was asked. Or it got worse.

SMACK.

I felt his cold hand turn my backside hot with a loud spank. I didn’t cry out but I was crying.

“Sorry, Sir. I won’t drop my pencil again.” I said in a steadier voice than before, bracing myself for another blow.


It didn’t come.

I was allowed to sit back in my seat 9 minutes and 43 seconds later.


“Who’s your favorite teacher?” Ma’am Annie had asked on her last day as the grade 4 math teacher in our small classroom in Chak.

The class responded instantly and in unison, “Sir Azam!”


Dominant

Fake Candid: A Lifestyle

There’s this new trend

Where you pose for a picture,

But call it candid

To deceive your Facebook friend.

Don’t you wonder

If people do the same outside of pictures?

Act the deer

To hide a blunder.

And don’t you think that when he smiles

In the picture before the orange tree,

He’s looking across the lens

Into the rainbow or the boy in pink?


Bilal wished he could do more than post pictures of his boyfriend on Facebook and Instagram, and caption them #Candid or #ModelShoot. He wanted to be honest to his audience. He longed to tell his 5k something followers that his photography account was more than a portfolio. It was a tribute to the love of his life. But why couldn’t he? Why couldn’t he wear pink in front of the lens? Why couldn’t he set the camera timer and, for once, be in the photograph next to the boy of his dreams? Wasn’t that what being candid really meant?

“Oye! Try this fake candid!” Nausher posed in front of the orange tree and called out to Bilal, putting on a bright smile.

Fake candid, Bilal laughed to himself. Fake candid indeed.


A Crazy Big Hole

The purpose of this story is to be weird and creepy. If you find mutilated body parts bothersome, this isn’t for you.


Sikander’s internship at the law clinic was going well. Just having given his A’level exams, he spent days of his summer vacation sitting in the boxy office on a small desk next to the Lawyer’s big desk. Big desk was important, always scattered with case files or fat hard cover books, and often old mugs with forgotten tea or coffee. Small desk was cleaner. Sikander dealt with any documents that needed to be drafted or any notes that needed reviewing instantly. It was seldom that he was asked to service conferences or make notes of his own, during a meeting, because of his hearing problem. He also wasn’t considered intelligent enough for legal research or study. Small desk was unimportant at most times; Sikander’s laptop sat alone for most part of the day. He didn’t feel exploited by his employers. Wasn’t that the point of having interns, he thought.

As days passed, Sikander’s morale started to diminish. He deemed it unbecoming that the Lawyer wasn’t keen on exploring his full potential. That was when he decided to volunteer help even when nobody was asking. Sitting in the Lawyer’s office, he was privy to all the cases the Lawyer and his staff discussed. Sikander decided to solve a big one for the Lawyer to prove his worth. Soon, he got his chance.

“This is a tough one. She was caught on camera…,” the Lawyer took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes, “I don’t know how to fix it.”

Waris, the Undergraduate, flipped through a hardcover book of his own. “I know it looks impossible but we just need to find a loophole. There’s always one. The law can be peculiarly ambiguous at times.”

“Yeah…a crazy big loophole is the only thing that can save her. Or she’s definitely losing this.” The Lawyer started looking something up on his MacBook.

Sikander was confused. He couldn’t understand how a crazy big poop hole could solve the case. He didn’t want to ask due to the fear of looking dumb so he decided to conduct his own research. The Google results for crazy big poop hole weren’t rewarding. The poop holes were either a weird shade of brown or were covered in wavy, curly hair. Most of them looked too small. And the craziest thing about poop holes seemed to be piercings which only decreased the diameter of the hole and acted as a double negative. It was a conundrum.

The day of the trial came by. The Lawyer was dropping papers and spilling coffee. He was nervous. They hadn’t been able to find a crazy big poop hole. The case was going to be settled in the Civil Court. Sikander asked to go along to observe and the Lawyer gave a distracted nod. Little did he know, Sikander was going to save the day. They reached the Court and got seated. The trial started and the Lawyer stuttered and sweated. It was obvious he was going to lose.

The Judge cleared his throat and began, “The jurisdiction of this Court, as is evident from-”

“No, wait!” Sikander shouted. “Before you tell me to stop or leave, please hear me out. We have something that might change your decision. My boss just forgot to mention it. Please allow me to present it.” He said quickly, heart beating so loudly that he couldn’t even hear his own words.

The Judge allowed Sikander to speak, willing to defy procedure for the rattled boy. The young intern made his way to front and faced the audience. The Lawyer looked at him with horror in his eyes. Sikander braced himself and closed his eyes. One. He unbuckled his pants. Two. He gripped the waistband. Three. He pulled his pants down and bent forward so the judge could see his poop hole. He rotated 360 degrees slowly for everyone else to see it too.

For the past few days, Sikander had been inserting various phallic shaped objects in his poop hole to increase the size. The process had been painful but also pleasurable. The size of the object varied. He wanted to loosen his poop hole as much as he could. When the size didn’t change much, Sikander had to concentrate on the crazy aspect of it. He used a pocket knife to make wavy lines around his poop hole. Before coming to Court, he painted it orange like a sun. He redid the wavy lines with the knife for the sake of fresh blood. His poop hole wasn’t big but it sure was crazy. The wild stares and shrieks told him that much.

When the guards were dragging him out, Sikander let them. He had proven his worth to the Lawyer. He came up with the crazy big poop hole. How many people could say the same?

And lots of chocolate too.