writer & editor

Review: Rich and Poor People

Review by Mel Ulm of my short story Rich and Poor People, published in Markaz Review. You can read the story at themarkaz.org/rich-and-poor-people-fiction-by-farah-ahamed.

My main purpose today is to let the followers of my blog know of this wonderful story and to keep my records of her work. I reserve such coverage for writers whose talent and insight I greatly value.

I first began to follow the work of Farah Ahamed on April 3, 2015. Today’s story is the fourteenth of her work to be featured on The Reading Life.

The narrator of the story has been working as a maid for twelve years for Ma’am Farida and Mr. Abdul. Now Mr. Abdul has passed away. Farida has become very concerned with the fact that her neighbours feed KFC chicken to crows. Her maid sees this as a “rich person’s problem”.

Here is her account of the contrasting problems of the rich and the poor.

“Rich people have no idea what it’s like to be poor. When you’re poor, you’re used to people dropping dead like flies and spending half your salary every month on funerals. Being poor means you’ll die young, because if you’re ill, you won’t have a car to take you to the hospital. And if by some luck you get there by bus, you’ll have to sit on the cold floor in the hospital corridor and wait for hours. And when the nurse finally takes you in, there’ll be no bed, medicine, or doctor. If you survive, your baby might die. If you hit your chest and cry, everyone will say it was God’s will, and if He took away your child, maybe one day He’ll give you a chance to change your destiny and know what it’s like to live like the rich.”

I do not wish to give away any of the plot of this marvellous story.

Farah Ahamed’s short stories and essays have been published in The White Review, Ploughshares, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, The Massachusetts Review amongst others. Her story Hot Mango Chutney Sauce, was shortlisted for the 2022 Commonwealth Prize. She is the editor of Period Matters: Menstruation Experiences in South Asia, Pan Macmillan India, 2022. She is working on a novel, Days without Sun, a story about grief, friendship, and survival in the backstreets of Lahore.