writer & editor

Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize

I’m thrilled to be included in the shortlist for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize for my story Hot Chutney Mango Sauce.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth. This year’s shortlist was chosen by the international judging panel from over 6700 entries from 52 Commonwealth countries.

In my story, five girls are homeless and live in the backyard of a shrine. The story is told in the first-person plural and from the point of view of the men who work in the kiosks in the shrine car park. The narrators use photographic evidence and a doctor’s report to corroborate their story of how the girls, after they were stopped from attending Meesha Shafi’s live music concert, started taking their lives.

It was only yesterday when the last girl, Maryam, took her turn with paracetamols and cheap alcohol. A few weeks earlier, Zainab, had done the same, but Laila, who had followed Hafsa, had slit her wrists. When the police took us in for questioning, we said we were ready to cooperate. We even offered to share our photographs. After all, who better than us could explain what happened to the girls?