‘Hands’ by Anwara Syed Haq, translated from the Bengali by Shabnam Nadiya

Let’s move from shoe repair work to household items repair work. And from Karachi, Pakistan to Jashore (as Jessore is now officially known), Bangladesh. There’s a young woman here too. Only, she’s all of twelve years and needs her doll mended by the repairman. And, oh yes, we have a couple of disappearances in this story too. About halfway in, the story takes a chilling, harrowing turn where the repairman is called on to do the biggest job of his life and you will hold your breath hoping for him to succeed. The narrative has a lovely folktale-like cadence and even uses some of the usual folktale tropes in how the characters are introduced and the scenes progress. A story with a timeless charm.

First published in translation in Words Without Borders, January 2013, and available to read here