This may be cheating as I’m fairly sure this is a novel excerpt from Hanif’s Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, but it was published in Granta as a standalone story – so I’m going to pretend this is a short story. Nobody does humour, sarcasm, tenderness (and humour again) quite like Mohammed Hanif. This piece is about a city, a hospital, God (and the characters’ various levels of faith in Him), misogyny, the politics of courting. All of it feels electric, as if it has been waiting for Hanif to write it into existence. I also want to propose that Hanif is at his finest when writing about love and declarations of love in all their twisted manifestations.
First published in Granta 112: Pakistan, 2010 and available to subscribers to read online here