The Stained-Glass Window
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You could tell the city was thirsty. If you listened carefully, you could hear it whispering its complaint to a dry, sun-bleached, pitiless sky. Generous banyan and leafy neem laden with thick films of dust stood as still as Druid stones. Passing vehicles blew up puffs, which settled swiftly like a fine film on shoes, bare feet, paws and pavements like an old threadbare blanket. Stray dogs, their tongues lolling with each panting breath, sprawled on baking pavements. Choked with haze, the sky descended to an arm’s length, squeezing the breath out of everything that lived. ~ Navid Shahzad, The Fourth Day.
But do we really suffer from ourselves, he thought? Or is hell made for us by other people, as Sartre wrote? Envy, malice, greed: don’t they affect us even when we feel we are strong? He remembered the bearded white-robed faqir, rattling with bells and green beads and chanting incomprehensible verses, who’d come to their door in Karachi one morning. ~ Aamer Husein, The Garden Spy.
Asim and Minha teared up a little at the children's effort to put up brave faces. They wanted to embrace the children, but knew better than that. Asim sensed the tension in the room. Indeed, it was a difficult time when one had to learn how to maintain the proper etiquettes of social distancing with others, even if one lived in the same house as them. ~ Attiya Dawood, Unlearning The Ropes.
The Stained-Glass Window weaves a tapestry of the strict lockdowns, the quandaries of quarantine and the anxieties of isolation that have come to represent the COVID-19 era. In this compilation, twenty-six writers of Pakistani origin present the arc of the individual lives affected by the chaos and urgency that has gripped the country in the wake of the health crisis. Spanning different genres and the complex emotional journeys of a varied cast of characters, the short fiction in this collection uses the public health scare as a catalyst to understand the power of love, faith, hope and perseverance in coping with uncertainty.