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Essay News Poem Review Short Story

2024 | News

Stories from the Center of the World

I’m thrilled to be a contributor to Stories from the Center of the World, edited by Jordan Elgrably and published by City Lights Publishers on 7th May.

Stories from the Center of the World includes short stories from 25 emerging and established writers of Middle Eastern and North African origins, a unique collection of voices and viewpoints that illuminate life in the global Arab/Muslim world.

“Provocative and subtle, nuanced and surprising… these stories demonstrate how this complicated and rich region might best be approached through the power of literature…” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Committed.

The anthololgy includes works by Hanif Kureishi, Nektaria Anastasiadou, MK Harb, Salar Abdoh, Karim Kattan and Omar El Akkad, among others.

Available in paperback and e-book. Download factsheet (pdf)

2024 | Short Story

Drinking Tea at Lahore Chai Masters

My short story, Drinking Tea at Lahore Chai Masters, is published on The Markaz Review.

When Mehreen and Asma compare notes, they realize they are still not unfettered lovers.

Mehreen stretched her arms above her head and yawned. Their eyes met for a moment, then Asma looked away. Their relationship was at a stage where they knew what each other was thinking just from their expressions. The sun was already slipping away without having had its chance to shine because of the smog. Some days were like that. Never succumb, Asma said to herself. Never, not to the noise, or this business of life. Better the silence of sorrow. She had had a craving for karak chai, so they’d come to Lahore Chai Masters, a dilapidated kiosk in one of the gullies off Walton Road. Further down the alley, a group of men were seated in a circle on the ground playing rummy. This is what you did on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

A waiter with a pink showering cap on his head placed two cups of tea on the wooden stool. He covered them with saucers to stop the tea from cooling and keep away the flies. They were his only customers.

“What a time of day it is,” Asma said, “as though our whole lives were compressed into this hour.”

Mehreen gave her a sharp look.

“Doesn’t it?” Asma said.

A crow rocked on the dead wires above them and cawed, Mehreen did not reply but kept her gazed fixed on her. Asma lifted the saucer and picked up her cup. Of course Mehreen had heard her, but why didn’t she respond? What was she thinking? It was moments like these when Asma needed reassurance, and Mehreen wasn’t forthcoming, that Asma felt she’d never been understood…