top of page
Photo Studio Lights

Each week we spotlight two short stories from our longlist. This year's writing displays a diversity of subject matter. Themes range from the personal to the public, from marriage to rebellion to assassination attempts. Yet in all cases our writers succeed in conjuring places and scenarios with an assurance that is particularly evocative and resonant of Pakistani society and culture.


Dazzling Light

The Glimmer

Mahvash Mohtadullah

"She felt her brain glimmer as it always did before she lost it. 'Found yourself'  Gula had said from behind her hippocampus when she had been whisked into the inner spaces of her mind in those early days.  Zoya had smiled her bright smile at her ...

Gula and her little sister Zoya lived inside.  In Zainab’s mind."



male and female symbols intertwined.jpg


Khadija Malik

"It had taken some time for Laila and Salman to find something akin to a rhythm in their relationship. The terms of their marriage had become clear to them both fairly swiftly. She was a simple middle class girl. He was a handsome and wealthy catch ...Together, their only job in the Seth universe was to procreate "



Applying Concealer


Sofea Khan

"His almond-pinched eyes sifted through the sea of white shalwar kameez and loose ponytails around the school gate, surveying the same chapped lips and subtle outlines of training bras until he noticed a young mother ... Saabir stared at the nude lipstick caked on her full lips almost in a trance."



the weeping woman picasso.jpeg


Raazia Sajid

"I thought about bardaasht, and how sacrifice and compromise and adjusting are all bardaasht, and what if they lied to us about what bardaasht means? It is exactly the kind of thing men would do, lie to keep women in their limits. "



Holding a Colorful Bouquet

Material Girl

Hareem Khan

"As the morning dawned bright and early, she awoke to birdsong and sunrays, sliding gracefully off the bed to begin her structured day ... Her face glowed as bright as her diamond rings as he stretched and opened his eyes. Another day of ease and comfort had begun."




Ghost of the Waxing Woman

Alizah Hashmi

"She doesn’t know if it humbles those women to come face to face in a non-transactional circumstance, with someone who has seen their stubbly body hair everywhere, waxed it out of nooks and corners, but is in this rare setting, all things disregarded, their equal."


Illustration by Laiba Raja

Reflection Through Broken Glass_edited_e


Vaneeza Soomro

"I sat in the dim lights and scavenged through her things … I didn’t know what I was looking for in the wreckage. Perhaps a sign of myself, an acknowledgment that she had a daughter. She took up so much space. There was never room for me. "



Pakistani braids.jpg

The Braids

Javaria Waseeem

"It was the year of political unrest in Pakistan when I turned eighteen… Lahore was echoing with the slogans of freedom; from the tyrant government, the criminal justice system, and the villainous law enforcement agencies. Joining this landscape of struggle, I raised my own voice. 

'I want to cut my hair short.' ”



Painted Face

Bodies in the Air

Sakina Hassan

"The first plan should have worked. All it had needed was for one old woman to die at the right time. If she’d just popped off on schedule then maybe the country wouldn’t be falling apart right now"




Table Manners

Ella Hussain

"She named the podcast 'Rare But There'. The name was more than a moniker to her; it was her silent hope and most ardent prayer: 'Please God, don’t let my search for hidden jewels of integrity end in disappointment. Please let me discover that intelligence, honesty, virtue, bravery, and conscientiousness are rare but they are there.' ”



bottom of page