Nervous Student

Written by: Imbesat Z. Meer

Inshirah watched as twice Mustafa passed by his chair (which were designated by role number) and had to finally ask the bored invigilator for assistance. She winced as he then tripped his way into the chair and quickly righted himself, yelping in pain when he banged his knee against the mucus-coloured table.

She could see him swallowing thickly, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down, as he alternated between scratching the green table top, tapping his black crescent nails against the hard surface, and wiping his hands on his scruffy pants. Green veins were popping out over pale sweaty skin.

With twenty minutes still left before the start of the paper, Inshirah was getting very irritated with Mustafa’s constant fidgeting. He could hardly sit still. You’d think someone had put itching powder in his underwear. He tapped his feet against the leg of his chair and the click as he bit his nails to the quick, was like a nail being hammered into her brain. Tick, tick, tick. She winced each time she heard the snap.

She was not the only one who was annoyed by Mustafa’s pre-exam jitters. Her exasperation at his annoying actions had given her a headache. His leg was almost a blur as it vibrated in time with his nails tapping against the table, as his eyes darted about the room and he tugged at his askew tie.

With five minutes left till 9, everyone was openly glaring at Mustafa including the not-so-bored-now-as-he-was-angry invigilator, because Mustafa had taken to smacking and licking his lips. He’d lick them, and then smack them, and then grind his teeth, all the while clicking tapping his nails aginst the table top and kicking his table leg. Lick, smack, grrrrrinnddd, click click, tap tap, and repeat.

When the clock struck 9, Inshirah was least surprised that Mustafa made a strangled gurgle right before he slithered like boneless mass onto the floor, a limp body passed out due to stress.

She was Beautiful

Written by: Nikita Fernandes

She walked through the hallway her ombre colored hair caught almost everyone’s attention. It lay back in bouncy thick curls from her delicate ears and fell loosely over her shoulders. Her eyes were a piercing sharp shade of brown framed by long landes and eyebrows perfects arched. Her nose was upright and her lips; the red of blood. Her skin was the color of freshly roasted almonds she had a soft face with rounded cheek bones and a few freckles on either side which looked like peaches and cream when she blushed, she bit back a breathtaking simile – she was beautiful.
She wore a simple pearly white lace dress with a gold braided belt buckled round the waist. She held a brightly colored diary whose rims were studded with beads and small diamond shaped mirrors; in her arms and held on to it as if her entire world was within those pages. She looked around nervously in search of her of that unknown lady who had handed her that diary and disappeared into the midst. She had to return it.

The beggar on the road cursed at me when I refused to give him money.

Written by: Rebal Khan

Red lights blinked and I stopped my car at the traffic signal. At once a gang of beggars appeared and demanded money from the car owners. The passengers who would normally ride away at the sight of beggars were now bound by the law to face them.

In the distance I saw a young man about twenty years old, maybe younger. He had shaggy black hair, brown sun tanned face and betel stained teeth. A patched red scarf was wrapped around his neck and he had outgrown his black shalwar kamiz. He stumbled towards my car with his head shifting sides on each step. He clutched some money in his left hand.

Tuck, tuck, tuck! He knocked on the car window. “Go away, don’t touch my car.” I growled and turned my head to ignore him.

“Give me money, I need to buy food.” He pleaded and the acrid stench of chewed betel filled my car.

Written by: Saad Shahzad

“Spare change sahib?” I heard the call from my right. Locating its source, I kept moving on. “Sahib, I am hungry. Any change would do!” the beggar insisted. This time I blessed him with a proper look.

Covered with dirt from top to bottom, he was a frail old man with a wrinkled face, with gray streaks of hair and a smell that reminded me of cow dung during the eid season. He had small beady eyes that were black like inside of a black Mamba’s mouth and his mouth consisted of only half a dozen tooth – which were all broken and yellow like liquor. Moreover, his ears protruded from the side of his head like the bell towers of a church, giving his face a comical look. Glancing down, I saw he was wearing rags with gaping holes in them which revealed his filthy skin underneath. I couldn’t bear the sight of him anymore.
“Get away from me!” I told him as I quickened my pace. This broke an invisible barrier, for a stream of profanities escaped his mouth directed at me and my family. Not even bothering to give a second glance, I moved on thinking that he must be pretty desperate.

I took twenty rupees from my wallet with one hand on the nose and said “Take this and go away!”

“Thisss!” He made a surprised hiss sound and demanded, “Mooore!” This time with ‘more’ part like a cows moo.

The traffic signal shifted from red to yellow and then to green. I turned the car key and closed the window saying, “You are young and fit, get a job.”

As the car picked speed, the beggar yelled, “Wait for God’s sake, help me!” Betel juice sprayed from his lips, staining my mirror red. “You will die, go to hell!” He shouted at the top of his voice with a shaking fist in the air, as i furthered away from him.

Snow White – An adventure

Writer: Peter Kang

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” chanted the Queen, “Show me the way to be fairest of them all.”

The mirror began to swirl and the golden, small apple was unveiled on the shinning black glass. “My fair Queen, one bite of this golden apple will give you eternal beauty that no mortal can bear.”

The Queen’s eyes burned with desire to possess this enchanted apple. She wasted no time. She summoned a dwarf to call the hunter to make him search for this apple.

“Where is it?” Queen demanded from the mirror.

“It hangs on one of the tree in the Dark Woods.” And to the Dark Woods, the Queen sent the hunter.

However, the dwarf, who called the hunter, heard everything and reported to arrogant, selfish Snow White.

She jumped at this news and, without any plans, she ran out of the palace and charged straight into the Dark Woods.

Everything was dark. Not a single ray could penetrate the tree’s branches and leaves. Snow White groped her way through with her hands stretched out like zombie. She shrieked when a sudden crack of a branch broke the silence. She looked around hopelessly at the darkness trying to figure out the source of sound.

Then as she turned around to move on, brilliant beam of light blinded her sight momentarily. She gave a short cry covering her eyes from the light. A figure stood in front of her.

“What are you doing here, missy?” The hunter approached her and grabbed her arm tightly.

“I am here in search for the magic apple, so that I could eat it and remain as the most beautiful mortal on the earth. And who are you?” Snow White changed her tone, “How dare you question the daughter of the king. A princess! Have you no shame?”

“I have no time to deal with you.” grunted the hunter. “Outta my way! You are standing in between me and my way to the apple!”

Snow White turned and there on the ground, just above the broken branches lay, the magic apple, radiating in the beam of light.

“No! It’s mine!” She turned and stretched her hand for it.

When she was just inches from the golden apple, she experienced for the first time in her life, the brutal act of violence. The hunter shoved her aside with his muscular arms and proceeded to take hold of the apple, with Snow White crying over her bleeding leg, on the side.

“Halt!” A prince emerged from behind the tree. He was charming, tall and handsome. He had a sword drawn out. The appearance of new-comer stunned Snow White as she began to hope for being saved and finally get the apple, eat it and marry this prince.

“You ain’t stopping me!” The hunter charged at the prince with his axe raised. But the poor hunter was no match to the prince. With one stroke of his magnificent sword, the prince had cut the hunter’s head off. Snow White cheered. “Thank you very much. Now, let me have the apple and we will marry and live happily ever after.”

“Do I know you, ma’am?” The prince scoffed and picked the golden apple. With his eyes greedily gazing upon the magic fruit, he muttered to himself, “This is the true reward for saving a damsel in distress. I love it!” And he ate the whole apple.

Immediately, the muscular, rough arms and his whole body shrunk to incredible slimness and softness. His skin turned as fair as snow and he became the fairest man of them all.

Rapunzel 2.0 – A world of sci-fi

Writer: Ishaq Ibrahim

“You have now been teleported to planet: Eon,” the generic sound from my signal transmitter was barely audible as I opened my eyes to examine the new place I had been taken to. Eon was very different than I had thought. Tall buildings floated in the air. The streets were filled with transportation capsules speeding off in different directions. The people here were also different. The eight-limbed creatures were everywhere to be seen. Big white eyes rotated in their sockets as they looked at me.

Better not stay here for long.
I opened up the G.P.S panel of my nanosuit. My destination was just a few blocks ahead.
As I navigated through the bustling streets, thoughts kept popping up in my mind.
Rapunzel. Trapped. Kidnapped. But why would the ruler of Eon do this? What would he get by kidnapping the wife of a military officer…of another planet? Only time will tell now.
There it was. The place where Rapunzel was being kept.
“You have arrived at: The Digital Fortress.”
The Digital Fortress? That’s what they call it? Let’s see how much of a fortress it is.
I pressed one of the buttons on my nanosuit panel.
“Invisible mode: on.”
I loved my nanosuit. A full body armor capable of absorbing the damage from even the most powerful weapon: even the laser gun. It had been given to me as a well-deserved gift. After all, I had single-handedly conquered the entire planet of Baduin. I deserved this.
Infiltrating the fortress was an easy task. The guard robots, despite all their X-ray and infrared capabilities were not able to notice. I walked through the main hall. I had to find the chip room. The prisoners here were trapped digitally on electronic chips. Rapunzel was on one of them. I had to get her chip and take it to the conversion room. Then I would finally take her home.
With my invisibility, everything was easy. The chip was stored in a room swarming with security robots, but they were unable to catch me as I swapped the chip with a fake one.
Don’t worry Rapunzel, you are safe with me. I will save you.
The conversion room was empty. The situation was to my advantage. I located the conversion computer and inserted the chip inside. Then I pressed the huge red button on the control panel labeled: CONVERT BACK.
Right before my eyes, a body started to materialize. First the legs, then the torso, and finally the head-
What is this? Who is this?
“Who are you? Where is Rapunzel?” I could not help but shout.
I looked at the chip I had inserted. Clearly, it was labeled: RAPUNZEL, PLANET: KYNET. Then who is this?
“I’m sorry sir. Rapunzel, s-she forced me, gave me no choice. S-she said she would k-kill my family. She threatened me. I had no choice.”
Her face was full of wrinkles. She seemed to be in her fifties. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“What did Rapunzel do? Tell me!” I was furious. Whatever this joke was, it must end!
“Rapunzel was going to c-commit treason, sir. She was c-conspiring against Kynet, our planet,” she said in a stuttering tone.
“What? How can this be possible?”
“It’s true, sir.”
My thoughts were interrupted by blaring voices from my signal transmitter. It was someone from Kynet.
“I’m sure you must’ve realized what has happened, Jack. And I am not sorry for this. I only used you because I wanted to take over Kynet. I was helping Eon. Because of your absence, my task has become much easier.” The voice I recognized as Rapunzel’s.
I could not bring myself to reality. All hell had broken loose. I had been betrayed by Rapunzel, who had taken over my planet instead.

Thumbelina – An adventure

Writer: Wajiha Mukhtar

She ran for her life. Her footsteps thudded on the uneven ground, she stumbled and fell. Mud coated each and every feature of her delicate body. She was a six-inch little girl, beautiful like a fairy, made for anything but this.

She gasped as she clutched a stitch in her side, willing herself to move on. Her stomach rumbled, her heart fluttered and her muscles strained as she tried to put as much distance  as she could between herself and her pursuers.

The mole! He wanted to marry her! A big fat ugly mole who was as blind as a bat wanted her fair hand in marriage! Thumbelina was not one of those people who judged people by how they looked but oh if she married him the outside world would be shut away from her, forever. The bright sunshine,the blue sky, the singing birds, the green dewy grass and oh the flowers. The beautiful flowers. Her birthplace, her home! The mere thought of being locked up forever underground sent tears streaming down her eyes and forming tricklets on her muddied face.

She heard a sound. Could it be the mole? She doubled her pace but the sound did not abate, instead it was getting louder and louder. Thumbelina desperately went down a path she had never ventured into before, hoping she could throw off the mole. The tunnels were old and cracked in places, in some areas fungus had sprouted and they reeked of rotting vegetables. This cannot be my home, thought Thumbelina as she thrashed on in desperate effort.

Thumbelina stopped everything around her was silent. Had she thrown of the mole, or was he sneaking up on her. Could moles walk on tiptoe? She wondered as she sat down to catch her breath. Silence still reigned. Maybe her plan had worked. Thumbelina felt a smile on her face, despite her bruised hands and grazed knees, her tattered dress and tangled hair, she felt closer to freedom. Closing her eyes Thumbelina lulled her tired body to sleep.

She was awakened suddenly by the sound of digging. She got up hurriedly, quickly brushing sleep from her eyes and prepared to run yet again. Though mere rested, Thumbelina realized that she could not ignore the gnawing of her stomach  and the burning of her parched throat much longer. She found herself jumping over a dead rat, turning into an even more gloomy tunnel, crawling through tight spots and doing things she had never had done before. All of this was not on her to do list. She wanted peace, flowers, love and family, not an ugly mole and almost yelling in frustration and fatigue, Thumbelina ran on.

Light! There was light ahead! Oh she could barely contain herself. Her entire face lit up and she rushed forward with renewed vigor. However the sound did not stop, it was getting louder and louder as if the pursuer realized how close his victim was getting near to freedom.

Thumbelina burst out of the underground tunnel full of elation. She had done it. The blue sky had never looked bluer, the birds had never sung sweeter and the flowers, they were just as welcoming and beautiful as before. She ran on and then stopped in horror. Colour drained from her face. She was on a cliff! There was no way getting down. The great distance was almost impossible for her tiny little form to cross. She looked around only to find the dark gloomy tunnels and staring at her from within with beady greedy eyes was the mole himself!

Thumbelina shrieked. All that hard work for nothing. She was trapped. She would be dragged back to that dismal place.

No, Thumbelina thought, “I will never go there again, never, I’ll…I’ll die before I marry the mole and spend the rest of my life rotting in darkness and despair.”

Backing away from the desperate claws of the mole, Thumbelina threw herself from the cliff!

The ground rushed to meet her, wind whistled, her hair whipped upwards and Thumbelina screwed her eyes shut, hoping that this would not hurt much. Oh it did not hurt at all, she thought. She felt as if she was lying on a soft bed of feathers. It smelled familiar. Was she dead?

Willing herself, she opened her eyes to find herself on the back of a bird. It was the swallow! The one she had nursed back to health! With soft sun shining on her tired back, and the soft protection of the bird underneath, Thumbelina whooped with joy as she flung her arms around the bird’s neck. She had done it! She was finally free!

Flashback

Write a flashback, of about 200 words, to the following story.

Ahmed erupted through the door. As he walked to the back of the room, he stared at Rana with the contempt a dead man walking has for his executioner. When he fell into the seat at the back of the classroom, he watched Rana moving around the front of the room. The teacher’s beady eyes seemed to follow everyone as they crowded into the classroom. Just like Jamshed

had said earlier, everyone hated Rana and his aggressive ways. He was always picking on students for no reason. With everything that had happened to him that day, Ahmed just hoped Rana had the good sense to leave him alone. As he sat there, Ahmed’s muscles tightened. “Please don’t say ‘get out your writer’s notebooks’ again today.”

“Get out your writer’s notebooks,” Rana’s voice boomed. He sounded like a broken jukebox always playing the same warped record day after day. Rana stood before the 25 students. Ahmed could see his round figure and the way he always clapped his hands together at the beginning of class as if he were a band director. Ben lowered his eyes, hoping that if he didn’t see Rana, perhaps Rana would not see him. Suddenly Ahmed’s silence was shattered. “I said,

Ahmed, where is your notebook?”

Ahmed heard his mom’s words echo from the morning. “What are you gonna do with yourself, Ahmed?” He heard the sound of the hallway and the birds singing outside the window. He heard the rumble of his car’s motor. He saw flashes of the eastern sky.

“I don’t have it.” Ahmed’s words caused most of the class to take a deep breath. Jamshed looked across the room and began to mouth the words, “No, Ahmed . . . don’t.”

But it was too late.

Ahmed was ready to break the chains that had held him in place. “I said I don’t have it,” Ahmed continued, “because it is a pile of crap. You always make us do this junk for no reason. I am tired of it and I am tired of you.”

Like spectators at a tennis match, the students turned their heads to stare at the teacher. He stood there, the copy of The Literary Magazine slowly slipping between his fingers. A large vein rose on his temple and his brow wrinkled like a mountain range spread across the globe the students looked at in Geography. He shuffled back on his heels and his eyes narrowed. He shot laser beams across the room at Ahmed.

“What did you say, young man?” The spectators turned.

“I said you, this writer’s notebook, this class . . . hell, this entire school, are full of

crap!!!!” Ahmed’s voice had turned into a low squeal, but his face had grown older, like stone rubbed raw by years of wind and rain.

“Get out,” Rana responded. He could barely contain the rage inside him. The class stopped watching and began to lower their heads. When Ahmed did not move immediately, Rana repeated himself. Ahmed thought to himself it was typical for Rana to repeat himself.

Ahmed stood up and began to navigate through the row of chairs. The cuffs of his worn khakis scraped against the carpeted floor as he made his way toward the front of the room. His head was up but his eyes were lowered. As he passed by Jamshed, he touched him on the shoulder. Jamshed lowered his head onto the desk.

When Ahmed moved closer to Rana, the teacher reached out and wrapped his hand around Ahmed’s arm.

“Really smart, Ahmed . . . you are just like the rest of ‘em.”

All of the day’s events rushed through Ahmed’s veins. Almost like a reflex, he struck out.

He shook Rana’s hand away with one arm and brought his elbow up quickly, catching Rana square on the jaw. The thud rang out across the room like a bass drum. One person in the class gasped; another whistled and the others just sat there. Rana raised his arm to protect his face. Ahmed brought his other hand hard into the teacher’s stomach. Breath drained from the teacher and he fell backwards onto the blue carpet.

Ahmed stared down at the teacher and the reality of what he had just done began to set in. He turned and began to walk toward the door. Everyone stared at him. He walked to the door and for good measure, he slammed it as he exited into a world much different from the one he had been in before.

Writer: Fariha Jahangir

His mother’s words echoed in his ears. He had seen the hatred in her eyes. He had seen the contempt there.
“You’re all the same, you godforsaken bastards! First your father, then your brother, and then you!” she yelled, “I wish you’d never been born!”
She hurled the fork at him. He ducked. It dug into the wooden bedpost behind him. She said he was like theM: his brother who had run away from home, and his father who was in jail for murder.
Anger coursed through his veins. How dare she say that. He was shaking with rage. He wanted to make her scream in agony. He wanted to hurt her like she had hurt him. He wanted to make her beg for mercy.
He realized with horror that she was right. In his fury he had flung her against the concrete wall. Horrified at what he had done, he ran out of his house.
The fear in her eyes flashed before him. He wished she had not gone to the parent-teacher meeting. He hated Rana for doing this. The monster overtook him once again. Rana’s face swam into focus. Ahmed struck.

Writer: Aimen Shaikh

Just like the rest of them. The words screeched in his mind like nails on a chalkboard. Had his mother not said something along the same lines that very morning? “Like father, like son,” she had spat out, slamming the cereal bowl on the table in front of him, causing the milk to slop down the sides.

 “Don’t you dare compare me to that miserable old drunkard!” Ahmed’s hands balled into angry fists. If he had been slapped instead, it would not have hurt half as much.

 His mom rounded on him, her purse slipping halfway down her arm. “Then what do I call those D grades of yours? D for distinction? And what about our regular visits to the clinic? Dr Mazhar’s lucky stars blessing him with a patient who loves to get into stupid fights? And would you mind explaining why you waste all your time doodling God knows what crap on your notebook?” By now, her face was so close to Ahmed’s, the stink of tobacco from her mouth almost made him gag. “Your dad’s dirty genes-”

 CRASH! Ahmed stood up from the table so suddenly, the cereal bowl toppled down, the milk from inside streaking miserably across the floor. For a few moments, the only voice to be heard was the soft pattering of raindrops on the window pane and the groaning of a rusty truck somewhere on the street, as mother and son shot daggers at each other. Ahmed wanted to shout out the truth: how he would work his heads off for every test but still could not score well; how he was beaten black and blue by bullies in the playground every day; how he had recently been offered the position of the Assistant Graphics Designer at a local magazine and had decided to surprise his mother with his first paycheck. But no, he thought, his mother probably did not bother about the truth at all.

Muttering something that sounded like “impossible”, his mother had stormed off to work. The door had shut behind her with a loud thud – the kind of sound his fat bull of a teacher, Mr Rana, would make if he pushed him on the concrete floor of the classroom right now. It was tempting indeed.

Writer: Osama Naveed

“Your just like the rest of them,” Mr. Rana’s words reminded Ahmed of the conversation he had had with his mother that morning. She had been very cross and he had faced her wrath.

“Stupid boy! Can’t you do anything right?”
“Sorry mama, I was in a hurry. I didn’t pay attention to what the shopkeeper was giving me.”

“He made a fool of you. That’s what he did . Look At these eggs! Rotten just like you!” She raised her fist. “A hooligan that’s all you are. Small, ugly. You’re just like your good for nothing father and like all those other stupid men who run away when life gets tough.” She hurled one of the eggs at him, he ducked just in time.

“Mama, please” he pleaded as tears rolled down his check.
” Don’t talk back to me you worthless piece of dirt. It’s time you learnt your lesson.”
She pulled out a leather belt and smacked him across his back. It was obvious she hadn’t taken her medication. The scowl on her face had kept his wails silent.

Just like the scowl on Mr. Rana’s face as he waited for Ahmed to exit the door.