Category: Short story (page 1 of 1)

Chinese dental care

First published in Singapore Unbound: https://singaporeunbound.org/blog/2021/8/27/microcolonies-of-bacteria

The day after the Election Mian spends his entire afternoon on the balcony. The tangles of electric wires hanging low outside hide him from pedestrians and rickshawallahs. But he can see two dogs fighting each other and barking menacingly at anyone trying to come between them. A massive stray cow, indifferent to their fight, munches vegetable scraps and every other kind of rubbish. A one-eyed man twists her tail and fondles her udder. He narrowly misses a back-kick and calls the cow a street whore. Sitting in his favorite armchair, Mian would be amused by all this on any other day. A fresh defeat, however, has encroached on his right to snigger and enjoy silly misfortunes.

The day before the Election his wife reiterated her warning: that he would be crushed like an onion under his opponent’s feet! Mian’s lackeys were there in … Read more “Chinese dental care”

Adrift

Longlisted for Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019. First published in Himal Southasian: https://www.himalmag.com/adrift-mir-arif-2019/

Over the last few days of that tortuous journey our boatman developed a taste for human flesh. He hid the old man’s carcass under a tarpaulin. It was to save the flesh from getting soaked in rain. Poor man! He would have died anyway if he had stayed back home. Would have been killed by the blood purifiers: the army, the angry Mogs. Worse, his own folk were eating his flesh now.

I remember things in pieces. I cannot tell you for sure if Yunus killed the old man. Or he had died of hunger. But he was starving for weeks. So was I. We were lost in a watery wilderness weeks ago. Our engine broke. Our food depleted. Our clothes rotted in the heat and rain. And one day we saw the sun rising behind … Read more “Adrift”

The Dog Catchers

First published in Kitaab: https://kitaab.org/2018/05/28/short-story-the-dog-catchers-by-mir-arif/

The old city rises out of the mist on the Buriganga River on a cold wintry morning. Slowly, it gropes its way into the many byzantine alleys that are proverbial for their lost tales and histories. After a long, chequered life, these alleys still contain old houses with frieze cornices, fretted eaves and worn out wooden doors and casements; mosques with egg-shaped domes and towering minarets; centuries-old red forts; kattras and landing ghats — all witness to many generations of local and foreign rule.

The alleys of this part of the city are packed with people and shabby tea stalls, groceries and trinket-selling vendors. Houses with one or two feet frontage scrabble for the sun all year round. Throughout the winter their residents come out on the street to gather in the narrow, twisted alleys, to squat by small fires. Children hopscotch all day … Read more “The Dog Catchers”

The Astrologer’s Monkey

First published in Himal Southasian: https://www.himalmag.com/the-astrologers-monkey/

Early in my youth, a slightly clubfooted man, whose parents had abandoned him – and not only for this defect – came to our locality. With a wooden crate slung over his shoulder, he entered Nawab House. He was invited there, in fact. The attention he attracted from onlookers, however, was not for his limp but for the strange attire he wore – an unwashed black caftan almost touching the ground, a densely-beaded chain with a pendant of obscure metal hanging from his neck and a dirty turban wound on his head like a woman’s bun. He also wore a pair of black shoes that he himself had made years ago.

He was received with the least hospitality in Nawab House. For it was known that the long illness of an old man in that house, whose death was awaited by every person … Read more “The Astrologer’s Monkey”