Issue #15 |

In This Envelope

classic camera

1. There is a photograph of my home in Karachi. If you look carefully, you can see me waving from the second story window, my three brothers playing cricket in the street below. In the photograph I am wearing a white dress. I am about eight years old. Both of my parents are sitting on the second story verandah. It will rain soon. It is mango season, July of 1964.

 

2. There is a photograph of me at ten years old. My hair is in two long braids. I have just started wearing glasses. I am staring into the camera. My mother tells me that I look too serious, my skin is too dark, I should stay out of the sun. Instead, I spend my afternoons reading on the hot roof, hoping it will make me darker. I believe that this way no one will marry me and I can be alone with my books.

 

3. There is a photograph of my cousin Ovais, twenty-two and just back from Oxford to help manage my father’s textile business. Pressed suits and shiny black shoes. All of the boys in our family look alike—the same eyebrows, the slant of the chin.

 

4. There is a photograph of me at twelve. Me with my hands on my hips in the front yard of our house. I am smiling. My mother has told me repeatedly to smile with my mouth closed so that my gap doesn’t show. But today I don’t care. I have good news. I have stood third place in school. I am thin and grow so fast that none of my clothes ever fit properly. My body a jangle of bones, my chest flat as a chalkboard. I get good marks. This is how Ovais first notices me. I hear you stood third, he says to me on the day that he moves into our house. Next time you’ll stand first. No one has ever smiled at me like that.

 

To read the rest of this story, please purchase a copy of issue #15 or subscribe to the magazine

Sadia Quraeshi Shepard‘s debut short story “Foreign-Returned”, an adaptation of Mavis Gallant’s “The Ice-Wagon Going Down the Street”, was published in The New Yorker in January of 2018.  Her flash fiction story “Monsters”, originally published in The Margins, was selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions 2021 and will be included in the …

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