Sunday Long Reads: Childern’s day special short stories, poems, Kamila Shamsie on human need for friendship and more


Daya slammed her school-bag down on her bed and bit her lip hard, trying not to cry. “Everything ok?” her mother called out. In reply, she slammed her door and slid down against it, tears now flowing. Everything was not ok. Her mind returned to the scene she’d tried to blank out, on the never-ending bus ride home.

During her favourite period (English), her favourite teacher (Miss Bimla) had called her up in front of everyone, and held up her essay. Daya went pink, remembering how she’d strutted up, waiting for the usual praise.

“Daya, did you write this story yourself?”

“Every word,” she’d replied, chin up.

Miss Bimla began reading. “The morning sun filtered in through the leaves of the old oak tree, when—” Here she stopped and sighed.

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Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy Stardust (Credit: Mithun Chakraborty)

Ziggy Stardust is a cat I found,
Or should I say he found me.
He climbed a tree up to my terrace,
And mewed and mewed till I agreed.

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ALSO IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION

‘I don’t think the human need for friendship is going away’: Kamila Shamsie

British-Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie, Kamila Shamsie interview, Kamila Shamsie novel Best of Friends, friendships, eye 2022, sunday eye, indian express news British-Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie (Picture credit: Alex Von Tunzelmann)

I imagine writing to be an intimate affair. Did the success of Home Fire (a reimagination of Sophocles’ Antigone, the novel won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017) make you conscious of a readership?

I never know how to think of a reader for the very specific reason that when I was growing up in Karachi, I was never the reader anyone thought of, but it didn’t get in the way of my love for the Narnia books, or even Enid Blyton, let’s face it. I think one of the joys of fiction, if done properly, is it allows you in from a position of knowing but also a position of unknowing. There are books we love because there’s so much that’s familiar. Then there are books we love because the world it is introducing to us is completely unfamiliar. So no, I don’t think of the reader in that way. What does happen after you have a book that does better in the world than anything before, you know what that feels like — it feels very nice to have that many people read your book. But my feeling about it is that you only get that kind of luck once in your writing career, so I’ve sort of had it (laughs). That thing you mentioned about the intimacy of writing, once you actually sit down to write a book, that process, in some odd way, hasn’t changed since I was a university student working on my first (novel), which is you sit down and the problems you’re dealing with are the problems of a novel. Everything else disappears.

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What made celebrated food critic Gael Greene a passionate gourmand and an empathetic friend

suvir saran Gael showed she cared by giving her loved ones, most generously, of her time and thoughts (Credit: Suvir Saran)

September 19, 2001, will always be the day that rendered Gael Greene the epitome of a caring and kind, generously empathetic, supportive, inspiringly charismatic, and intuitively concerned friend. As soon as Gael heard about the racial profiling and attacks against Indian men who looked like the stereotype that Americans had for the terrorists they held responsible for the 9/11 attacks, she was worried sick about me. Gael, who enjoyed in-person meetings over telephone chitchats, was calling me twice or thrice a day to check in on me, to make sure I had shaved lest my stubble get me undue attention, to check in on how my then partner, Chuck Edwards, and I were faring in our apartment on 10th and Hudson. In gathering the details of my day, she would review how I had been treated and what the reaction was to my presence out on the streets as I went about my daily chores — gathering groceries, running errands, and being a neighbour and concerned resident.

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What makes ants the cliffhangers of insect kingdom

ants on stick Ants on a stick (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It all started when my sister tried to rescue a black ant (a little smaller and slimmer than the large black ants you get in Delhi especially during the monsoon) from drowning in the swimming pool. She scooped it up and placed it on the edge of the pool where it lay on its back and very feebly moved one leg. I took one look and knew there were slim chances for its survival.

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