This is a story about a young Pakistani woman in Lahore whose job is that of a security checker at a tomb visited by tourists and sightseers. She was born with a bad leg, which has made even her parents see her as a burden. At her security checker job, she makes a new friend of sorts. He works at a small kiosk across the street. It’s an awkward, new relationship but she eventually trusts him enough to go inside the mausoleum with him. Ahmed layers subtle complications here but keeps the story grittily real. Her cinematic language helps us visualize each scene beautifully. And, even though we have a sense of foreboding as to what’s likely to happen, the ending is done so smoothly that it’s likely to make you take a deep breath like I did and reread it a couple of times.
First published in The Mechanics’ Institute Review, 2020 and available to read online here