This is a short story I wrote for a competition at my school this year. I hope you enjoy.
I love my Pakistan.
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My mother had friendly eyes that crinkled when she laughed. She had a contagious laugh that caused everyone around her to laugh too. Every day she would go down to the river to wash her clothes with her friends. She would talk and laugh the loudest of everyone. She could always make me smile.
My brother, Sahir and I would chase each other in the streets playing Pakan Pakari with our neighbours. Sahir could never catch me. I was much faster.
Ever since Sahir’s first day of school I couldn’t wait to go myself. My mother walked him to school every day with me in toe. She laughed and greeted people passing in the street. She was happy.
Then they came with their guns and harsh uncaring faces. The monsters that said I was less than my brother. The evil men who would never bring happiness and fairness to my Pakistan.
When I started going to school too she still walked us. But she didn’t laugh anymore and never greeted men in the street, only her female friends who she would talk to in hushed urgent tones.
I walked into my classroom with Sahir, my mother having left us at the gate. I was a bizarre mix of excited and nervous to a point where my knees were shaking. There were a dozen other children sitting on the floor already and looking almost as nervous as I was.
“Goodbye Nadia, see you soon.” Sahir whispered to me. “Make some friends.”
I just nodded and sat down next to a girl wearing a pink shalwar kameez.
“Hello, my name is Nadia.” I whispered to her.
The frightened girl turned to look at me saying soflty, “Rabia is my name. Nice to meet you.”
A lady walked into the room at that moment. She had a sweet face and a kind voice. She said we are to call her Ustaad Haidar.
Rabia and I sat together at break time, talking and laughing.
My teacher didn’t come to school today. A man came instead. He told us that she couldn’t teach us anymore.
“Why?” One boy said.
Another girl asked, “Is she hurt?”
But the man just told us to look at the blackboard.
My mum didn’t walk me to school today.
I showed Rabia how to play Pakan Pakari during break and some other boys and girls joined in. The man who now taught us instead of Ustaad Haidar had to tell us that break had ended because we were all having so much fun and laughing so loud that we didn’t hear the bell.
My mother doesn’t laugh anymore. She doesn’t leave the house. She stays home and cooks and cleans.
My mother told me I couldn’t go to school today. I asked her why but she just ignored me. I was sad because my friends would be having fun without me at school but I knew I would see them all tomorrow. She made me help with all the chores.
I wasn’t allowed to go to school today either. I thought that was unfair because Sahir could still go. I told mother that I wanted to see my friends and she said that they all had to stay home too.
“Can I ask Rabia if she wants to play outside?” I pleaded.
“No Nadia, no. You must stay inside.” Her once soft and caring eyes showed a trace of pity for a moment before becoming once again wooden and stern. “You can help me cook.”
One day the men came and took my mother onto the street. I saw them throw rocks at her and whip her. Sahir was crying and told me to cover my eyes but I still saw. I still saw through the liquid despair overflowing from my eyes.
Sahir told me it was because she left the house without our father. He said that the Taliban killed her because she did not adhere to their stupid rules. She wore the burka. She did not laugh or walk me to school or go to the river or the baths. I hate them.
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I hate their Pakistan.