Saturday, December 27, 2014


A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

Art by Mahir Ates

Art by Mahir Ates
Prayer for Rain by Mahir Ates

There was a time when Abdul complained about the scorching heat of the sun, the dry air of the desert, and the fact that his tribe didn’t stay in one place for too long. There was a time when he questioned how God gave everything to some people and nothing to others. But those were the good times. Now, there was nothing to eat. The claws of hunger twisted and turned his stomach from the inside until the pain left little room for questions or coherent thought. The land where he lived had gone through a drought, and now there was a famine – the kind no one had ever seen before.

After putting his third and last child in a shallow grave, he didn’t know what hurt more – his heart, his shoulders, the blisters and callouses on his palms, or his stomach. If he had to choose one, he would choose the stomach. He hadn’t eaten anything resembling a meal in days, and whatever little he had stored away was already gone. His children had died, his wife was starving, and he had nothing left to sell. And even if he could find a buyer for his shovel, there was no food in the market. He was standing there, three small graves in front of him, when a loud noise got his attention.

“The minister is here with his welfare team.” The announcer spoke through the loud speaker. “There will be relief for all. Come to the relief camp and get in line to get food and other supplies.”

To Abdul, it was not just an announcement – it was a message of salvation. No singer in the history of the world had sung a song more melodious, no poet had written a ballad so sweet. With a renewed life, he went inside his hut to get his wife. He saw her sitting in a corner, her face that of a woman 15 years older than her. With strands of grey hair and an expression of eternal grief, her vacant eyes stared into nothingness, and he could feel that she wasn’t there. After losing three children to famine, the woman had accepted her fate. She sat there motionless, her back and head resting against the wall and her knees jammed against her chest. He tried calling out her name, but his voice got stuck in his throat. He got close to her, placed his hand on her shoulder, and tried to shake her gently, hoping against hope that she had gone to sleep with her eyes open. It wasn’t so.

The relief camp wasn’t far from Abdul’s place. It was barely a five minute walk. But those were the longest five minutes of his life. With no shoes on his feet and no food in his stomach, he barely made it to the line where hundreds like him were standing, waiting for their turn to get help from the generous and benevolent minister. Abdul knew most of the people in line, and those he didn’t know, he could relate to. They all shared a unique bond – a bond of starvation, a bond forged by the common loss of loved ones, a bond of poverty. One by one, the minister handed everyone a sack of flour, and every time he did, he posed for the media. The cameras captured every moment of the minister’s generosity, of his selfless act of rescuing the pitiable from the monster called hunger. One by one, the people in the line took their sack of flour and moved on. Inch by inch, Abdul moved closer to his savior.

When he finally got to the minister, their eyes met for a split second and the minister looked away. In that one moment, he felt himself becoming eternally grateful to the minister. This man…this amazing man had come to rescue him all the way from the city. This man that God clearly loved, and had therefore showered his blessings upon – this man who smelled of expensive perfume, who wore clothes that were worth more than Abdul’s annual income – this man had come to save him from starvation. If only this magnificent saint had arrived earlier, my wife and kids would still be alive. But the man was here now, and he was about to hand Abdul a whole sack of flour – a sack that would last a long time now that he only had himself to feed.

“Take this my brother.” The minister said aloud so the people watching at home could hear him clearly. He worked the camera like an expert and handed Abdul the sack of flour. Abdul took the sack and moved along.

The walk back home was easier than the walk to the camp, even though he was lugging a sack of flour with him. While the desert seemed as monotonous as ever, his hut was clearly marked by the three fresh graves, like a haunted island in an ocean of sand. Once inside, he saw his wife’s dead body still curled up in the corner of the room. I will dig her grave after I eat some bread. I wish she wasn’t dead. She made such good bread. He was a little irate at the thought of having to make his own bread. With trembling hands and the eagerness of a child unwrapping a gift, he opened the mouth of the sack and his lips curled up in a smile. The sack was full of sand. With both his hands on his head, he tried to laugh but he was simply out of energy. He thought about grabbing his shovel and going back to the camp to teach that bastard of a minister a lesson, but his legs simply refused to move. With everything he had left in him, he dragged himself towards his wife, and curled up next to her in the corner of the room.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

Art by Tehreem Naeem

Art by Tehreem Naeem

“What is on the other side of the wall, father?”

The kid was excited. His eyes sparkled with curiosity and anticipation. The eagerness to discover the unknown and the thrill of seeing something for the first time oozed from his every pore. Unlike his elders, he didn't try to hide his emotions. He was still at that stage in life where the food tasted better, the songs sounded melodious, and every day seemed like a fresh start.

The infinitely large wall was as wide as it was tall, and seeing it for the first time was a wondrous and somewhat overwhelming experience for young Abdul.

“What is on the other side of the wall, father?” He pulled on his father’s sleeve.

“Where do I begin?” The father sounded a little tired, but it was important for him to pass the legend on to his son. The story of the wall was passed from generation to generation, and every peasant knew it by heart. The reason why Abdul’s father had brought him to the wall was to tell him the story, and to introduce him to the entity that he would face for the rest of his life.

“Behind the wall, there lies a lush green valley where the rivers are sweet and cold, the trees are bountiful, and there is enough food for everyone.” For a second, it seemed as if Abdul’s father could look beyond the wall, as if he could see the valley he was describing, smelling the flowers and feeling the soft caress of the cold air on his cheek.

“In that valley, everyone gets their heart’s desire and all wishes are fulfilled. No one sleeps hungry at night. No one has to fear for his life. There is peace in the valley. There is bliss…there is happiness behind that wall.”

“Is that why all these people are trying to break this wall?”

“Yes, and we have to join them.” His father picked up his sledgehammer, and handed a smaller hammer to Abdul.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. As Abdul grew taller and his shoulders grew wider, his father seemed to shrink with every passing day. The father and son continued the daily ritual of beating the wall with their hammers, until the father grew too weak for the tiresome activity. Abdul continued the proud tradition, waking up early each day and trying to break down the one and only obstacle that stood between him and a good life.

The huge wall still continued its stubborn existence, but for some reason it didn't seem as majestic to Abdul as it did the first time he saw it. The wall was not the only thing that lost its charm - the food tasted bitter, the songs out of tune, and everyday worst than the last. The slums where he lived grew filthier and more dangerous, and with every passing day he lost the most important thing a man can lose – hope.

While Abdul hated the wall, he acknowledged it as the only constant in his life. Growing up, he had found love, lost it, got married, and had a son. Now that his son was big enough to hold a small hammer, it was time for him to pass on the legend.

“What is on the other side of the wall, father?”

His son asked him the same question he had once asked his father. Before he could reply, something stopped him. He saw the large horde chipping away tiny chunks off the seemingly infinite wall. He noticed that the many hammers striking the wall failed to do much damage, and it was at that moment he realized that the wall was there to stay. In the split of a second, reality came crashing down on him and his dreams were shattered. A better life beyond the filthy slums, the lush green valley behind the wall, the  bountiful trees, the cold air - everything revealed itself to be an empty promise.

“What is on the other side of the wall, father?” The kid pulled on his sleeve. Abdul looked at the innocent face of his pride and joy, and made the toughest decision of his life.

“Behind the wall, there lies a lush green valley where the rivers are sweet and cold, where the trees are bountiful, and there is enough food for everyone…” He repeated the legend to his son - word to word - as was told to him by his father. After all, he did not want his son to grow up without hope.

Monday, December 2, 2013


A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

Art by Tehreem Naeem

Art by Tehreem Naeem

Bang! Bang! Two gun shots - one targeting his face and the other his chest – that was all it took to kill him. He fell down and the killers got away. The shots had been fired from a white Toyota, which sped away once the target was eliminated.

It was just another Tuesday in the busy metropolitan. He was just another man standing at the bus stop waiting for his bus to arrive. Just another man trying to provide for his family in the failing economy. And suddenly he was no more.

The people at the bus stop gathered around him and someone called an ambulance. They used his cellphone to contact his friends and family, and took the body to the morgue. For some, his death was sad news. For others, the news made no difference.

Abdul had always wondered what happened after death. He read a lot about it in books and heard a lot from the neighborhood cleric, but he always liked to discover things on his own. Now that he had experienced death, he wondered what would happen next. He found the scene in front of him mesmerizing. They were putting his body on a stretcher, and he was standing just a few feet away watching his own carcass.

He wondered what would happen at work when they found the news. He wondered if they would stop working, give everyone the day off, and visit his house to give their condolences to his family. As soon as he thought about work he was transported there. The atmosphere seemed sad and he could spot a hint of tears in people’s eyes, but the machines were still on and the people were still going about their daily business. His chair was empty, but he knew there were plenty in line to take his place.

He expected to feel anger and frustration, but he felt nothing. He thought about his family. His parents and his siblings depended on him to pay the bills. Again, his thoughts served as a means of transportation and he found himself standing in the middle of his room – the room he shared with his brother.

He saw his brother sitting there in silence. There were no tears running down his cheeks but he was a picture of sorrow. Abdul could only wonder what psychological damage his death had done to his brother. He went to the other room where his mother had fainted, and his sister and a couple of neighbors were trying to bring her back to consciousness. In another room his father tried to appear strong in front of the relatives.

He wanted to reach out to his father, his mother, his sister, and his brother - but he could not. He wanted to tell them that he was okay, that he was in peace, and that they should try to move on with their lives. He wanted to tell them he loved them.

Pondering over things that were left unsaid and issues that were left unresolved, his thoughts wandered to the girl of his dreams. In life, he never told her how he felt. In death, he found himself gazing at her beautiful face, searching fruitlessly for any signs of emotion. Before he could try to get close to her, a voice interrupted him.

“It is time.” The strange voice came from behind him. He turned around and saw a large man standing there. He wondered if it was the angel of death. The man repeated himself as he walked towards him. Every step liberating him from his woes, every step bringing clarity. When he was alive, thousands of questions haunted his mind every day. Now that he was dead, the answers to those questions were pouring in out of nowhere. It was as if a barrier had been broken, and knowledge was now flooding his mind. He wondered if he would go to heaven or hell, or if there was a third option.

“It is time.” This time the voice wasn't so strange. It was his mother’s voice. “Get up and go to work. I don’t know why they put up with your absenteeism. If you don’t go today they will deduct a full day’s pay from your salary. Get up!” He tossed and turned and finally got up. Was that a dream? He wondered. It felt so real. He didn't have time for contemplation, the clock was ticking and he had to leave soon.

He skipped breakfast, changed into his work clothes and headed towards the bus stop. The bus was late today and the sun was in an unforgiving mood. The heat, the noise of traffic, the stink of sweat and garbage - everything was getting to him. As he stood there waiting for the bus, thinking about his dream, something caught his eye...a white Toyota was coming towards him.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

Art by Tehreem Naeem

I sat at my new spot watching people and traffic go by. The setting sun turned the sky orange and the cool evening breeze ruffled my hair. I saw him turning the corner. The guy heading my way was wearing his usual worn out t-shirt and old pair of jeans. The sweat on his brow and his obvious heavy breathing told the story of a fast and long walk. I sat up in anticipation.
This guy goes to a nearby gym every evening, and every evening I watch him intently. I tend to do that with everyone. Sometimes I don’t just watch them, I shout at them and chase them around scaring the living crap out of them. Some of them throw stones at me, others run for their lives, and some just freeze. I enjoy my interactions with the people who pass my street, but this guy particularly intrigues me.

Unlike others, he wears his emotions on his face, and unlike others, I can always read him like an open book. Although he seems like a nice guy and I feel bad for saying this, but I think he suffers from mental disorders. There are days when he speed-walks to the gym singing songs at the top of his voice, not giving a crap about people staring at him, and there are days when he is as quiet as a dead mouse. I have watched him every evening for one year now, and I have seen him at his best and at his worst. I can always sense anger and frustration in him, and I worry that one of these days he will lose it and break someone’s skull. Sometimes I try to communicate with him, but he never understands a word I say…no one does.

I have tried shouting at him and chasing him around, but after a second or two he just stands his ground and starts shouting right back at me. Not many people try such shenanigans with me, and I usually bite the ones who do, but this guy has an air of confidence that has prevented me from attacking him.

His weathered face tells the story of hardships, but I doubt anyone notices. I can sense goodness in him, but feel as if soon his bubbling rage is going to get the best of him. Still, I felt connected to him. I wanted to know his story. I wanted to tell him mine. I was in desperate need of a friend and I needed a way to get through to him.
As he drew closer, I could see the lines on his forehead. Usually I do not interact with him when he is in such a mood, but today I needed someone to talk to. I walked up to him slowly and said hi. He looked at me, avoided eye contact, and kept walking. I tried keeping up with him but he walks fast. I started running after him, but was careful not to scare him. I made it clear that I wanted his attention. He kept walking towards the gym as if he had forgotten about me, so I said hi again, this time in a louder voice, still being careful not to appear threatening. He clearly noticed me and then started walking faster, but before I could increase my speed to match his own, he stopped and turned around. He looked me dead in the eye and said something in his language. I didn't understand his words, but I knew exactly what he was saying.

He was asking me why I was limping a little, why I wasn’t in my usual spot, and why I was chasing him. I answered his questions, and told him how the new security guard had beaten me with a stick to chase me away from my spot. He spoke his language and I spoke mine, resulting in a most wonderful and fulfilling conversation. In a few seconds, he turned around and started walking again. I went back to my new spot, staring at the old spot where that security guard was dozing off in his chair.

I thought about taking a little nap myself, but all hopes of sleep were taken away from me by a loud noise. I saw them coming from afar on their noisy ride. There were two of them and they were headed straight for my friend. They stopped near him; one grabbed him by the collar while the other pulled something out of his pocket.

I ran as fast as I could with three good legs, and reached them just in time. I jumped one of the guys, biting him and attacking him with my claws. I was busy tearing this man apart while the other landed right next to me while holding his jaw and screaming in pain. I looked up and saw my friend holding his right wrist trying to shake away the pain from his knuckles. As I screamed, people started gathering around and soon they got me off my victim. I looked at my friend and he looked at me. The look in his eye was that of appreciation and thankfulness. He said something in his language again, and this time around I understood him completely. He said, “Stray dogs are not useless after all.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013


A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

“Why do you wish for immortality?”

The loud and clear voice most definitely came from the orb sitting in the middle of the room. The orb shone brightly. So brightly it was almost as if a smaller version of the sun was in the room, only without the heat. Worried if he stared at it for too long he would go blind, Kamal covered his eyes with his hands and started speaking.

“So it is true. The orb of immortality exists.”

He read about the orb in an old untitled book he had found in his travels. He tried doing further research about the orb, but to no avail. The book mentioned a powerful ancient civilization where the orb was worshiped and where it granted immortality to the most worthy men. Not being able to find anything about the orb on the internet or anywhere else, Kamal decided to search the ruins of all ancient civilizations. Now that he was standing in a basement type room of an ancient ruin in Egypt with the orb just a couple of feet away, his search was over.

“Why do you wish for immortality?” The orb repeated the question.

“Doesn't every man?” Kamal answered with a question of his own and then continued to explain his motivations.

“I want to travel the world. I want to see humanity progress. I want to write great books, learn different languages, climb every mountain, swim every ocean, make love to beautiful women, and live a fearless life without ever worrying about getting old. If you grant me immortality, I would accomplish greatness and achieve true happiness.”

“You are the first of your kind.” The orb sounded intrigued. “Ages ago, they achieved greatness first and then asked for immortality as a reward. When their civilization fell to ruin, I hid myself from mortal eyes and vanished into obscurity. The immortals I created see their immortality as a curse. You are different, but you are lying. Tell me the true reason behind your quest for immortality.”

Kamal knew it was time to come clean. He was dealing with a magical glowing orb of light that could make people immortal, so making it angry was not a great idea. His true motivation was embarrassing, but he had no other option but to tell.

“When I was a teenager, I was severely depressed. My mother died a long time ago and my father was always away on business trips. I had all the money in the world but I was miserable. I was contemplating suicide, but then my uncle died and I had to be part of all his burial rituals. They took him to a room where they stripped him of his clothes and bathed him. I was freaked out. I simply do not want my relatives and a couple of strangers seeing my dead naked body, and to avoid that, I want to be immortal.”

“That is the stupidest reason for wanting immortality I have ever heard.” It was hard to tell whether the orb was angry or amused. This time around its voice was devoid of emotion. 

“I have decided. I will grant you immortality.” Kamal breathed a sigh of relief but his woes were not over yet.

“Have you brought me a sacrifice?” The orb asked, this time its voice was clearly giddy.

“Sacrifice?” Kamal was confused. The book never said anything about a sacrifice.

“You need to bring me a human baby, or a virgin girl, or both. I need you to sacrifice at least one innocent human life in my name, and I will grant you immortality.”

“I…I cannot do that.” Kamal wanted to become an immortal but he would never hurt anyone to achieve something he wanted, even if that thing meant the world to him.

The orb seemed to glow a little less. The silence seemed to go on forever until the orb broke it. 

“It has been decided. You will be the immortal AND the sacrifice.” 

The orb turned blood red, its light seemed to disappear, and all Kamal could hear was this strange yet familiar beeping noise.

Beep beep…beep beep…

The noise from the machine came at equal intervals. His heart rate seemed to be normal. His clothes were clean. There was a bouquet of fresh flowers on the side table. The nurse looked up from her book, made sure everything was okay, and dove right back into the story where the stable boy was about to put the moves on the lady of the house. Before she could become completely immersed in the story again, she was disturbed by a knock on the door. It was the other nurse.

“I didn't realize my shift was over.” She smiled and let the other nurse in.

“Yes, time just flies by here because he is such a chatter box.” The other nurse was never short on sarcasm.

“Why are they doing this to him anyway?” She continued. “The guy practically has no brain function. Just because they have the money and the technology doesn't mean they can torture people like this.”

“He is the only son of the richest man in the country. He has got him plugged in because he expects scientists to come up with a cure. Try having kids and try saying good bye to them, it’s not easy. ”

“But how long can they keep him like this? They don’t even know what’s wrong with him.” The other nurse was strongly in favor of pulling the plug, but it wasn't her call.

“With today’s technology and his father’s money? Forever!”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Age of Shiny Rocks

A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

“But chief, I do not understand.” The man sounded frustrated. The argument between the tribesman and the chief had been going on for hours now, and it seemed neither party was going to budge from their viewpoint.

“He has more shiny rocks than you, so he gets to be the husband of my daughter, and the next in line to be the chief of this tribe. What’s so hard to understand about that?” The chief repeated his stance on the subject for the umpteenth time.

“The shiny rocks have no value. They are precious only because we think they are precious. The whole tribe has decided to use the shiny rocks for trade, and that is why you think he is rich. In reality, he is not.” It seemed as if the chief and the tribesman were caught in an infinite loop, repeating the same arguments over and over again.

“And what is your idea of reality? You draw pictures on cave walls for a living. You get paid in pebbles for what you do. You think I would marry my daughter to you so that she could live a life of poverty in your den? You are not that good of a hunter, and you are not even a good painter. I have to think about my daughter’s future, and in her future I want a mountain of shiny rocks, not a collection of mediocre cave paintings. I would have no more discussion on this topic, you may leave now.” With that the chief pointed towards the opening of the cave, and the tribesman had no option but to leave.

He went back to his place, gathered the materials he needed to carve paintings on the wall, and started on a half finished piece in a dark corner. This will be my best work. When they look at this painting, they will shower me with shiny rocks. They will put in a good word with the chief. They will…they will…

His train of thought suddenly disappeared, and his inner voice was replaced by that of the chief “You are not that good of a hunter, and you are not even a good painter”. He thought he had shrugged those words away, but they were now etched in his mind. He could hear the chief say it over and over again. He didn't realize that he had stopped working on the painting. His hand was still in the air, and he was frozen in his place. He must have spent an eternity in that position because his shoulder and elbow started to hurt, and the physical pain shook him out of the self pity he was feeling at that moment.

In those cruel moments, the severity of the situation came crashing down on him. The love of his life was going to be married off to another man, a man who inherited a great pile of shiny rocks from his father, a man who did not love her, a man who just wanted her so he could become the next chief. And worst of all the chief knew exactly why that man wished to marry his daughter.

I would go to her. We would run away. The thought lifted his spirit. He put down the chisel and headed out of the cave. After searching for a while he found her by the river. The sunlight filtering through the leaves fell on her shiny hair, and at that moment she appeared more beautiful to him than ever before. It did not surprise him; she had a habit of appearing more beautiful every time he saw her, or may be it was his love for her growing inside of him that tricked his eyes. Whatever the reason, he found his sorrows dissipating at the very sight of her.

“I talked to him, but he wouldn't listen. His mind is made up, and he would marry you to that idiot.” He sounded apologetic for a second but his tone changed quickly, “Let’s run away. We could go find another tribe. Claim that our tribe was killed by saber tooth tigers. Or we could find a nice quiet place away from all the tribes. We could still be together. Let’s go right now.”

There was a hint of a tear in her eye, but her face remained expressionless. He looked at her face and couldn't detect anything, there was no love, no sadness, no anger, nothing. Moments passed and nothing was said between the two of them, but the silence spoke more than words ever could. When she finally parted her lips the only thing she could say was, “Why couldn't you have more shiny rocks?”

Defeated, he walked away and wandered aimlessly for hours. His mind was foggy with depression, and he didn't know where he was going. Yet, he found himself in his den at the end of his journey. Once inside, he went straight for the chisel, and started destroying the wall painting in a fit of rage. After several minutes, he collapsed to the floor in exhaustion. He lay there and cried, and finally got up when he ran out of tears.

A time will come when men will not be measured by what they can hunt and kill. Their true worth will not be judged by the number of shiny rocks they hold in their possession. The thought crossed his mind as if someone else was speaking to him. I wish I was born in such a time, instead of this, the age of shiny rocks.

He felt the incomplete drawing on the wall calling to him as he picked up the chisel again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi

“We give you guys freedom, and this is what you do with it?” When the boss was unhappy, his voice could be heard throughout the office.

“But…let me explain myself.” The employee said in a hushed whisper. The look on his face was that of a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Only in this case he could get fired instead of getting spanked. 

He didn't fear getting fired; he had been meaning to quit that job anyway. However, he truly dreaded the reason he was being fired. If news got out of what he did, his reputation would be ruined. He wouldn't be able to get a job anywhere in town, and more importantly, he would bring shame on his family name. He had to find a way out of this.

“What possible explanation could you have? No one else has access to your computer, there were no viruses or malware, and the browsing history speaks for itself. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“A lot of other people have access to my computer. It is not password protected you know. May be someone from IT is trying to set me up.” The employee had gathered himself by now, his voice was a little less shaky and his brain was now coming up with a number of good excuses, maybe there was a way out for him after all.

“So I am to believe someone from IT logged into your account, downloaded those shameful photos everyday for the last twenty days, during the time you were supposed to be at your desk, and then sent a complaint about you? The complaint did not even come from the IT guys, a couple of people saw you doing it. You were looking at those pictures when you thought no one else was looking.” It seemed as if a couple of employees had already thrown him under the bus.

Snitches! He went silent for a couple of seconds before moving on to his next natural response. 

“They are conspiring against me. They are jealous you know. I meet my sales targets early every month and they don’t.” He applauded himself at this response. In his mind, he had not only discredited the snitches, he had also reminded his boss about his excellent performance as a sales rep. They can’t fire me, they need me, I bring in the big bucks.

“Don’t flatter yourself. You are not important enough for anyone to conspire against you. And almost everyone here meets their sales targets; the product pretty much sells itself.”

“Look…” He decided to put all cards on the table. It wasn't like he was the only guy in the world who enjoyed looking at pictures like that. So what if he rewarded himself with a couple of mouthwatering high resolution jpegs after making a big sale every now and then. He was only human, and the boss was human too, he would understand.

“I admit it. I went to those websites, and I downloaded those pictures. I even looked at them during work hours, but who doesn't do that from time to time? I mean people check their emails, listen to songs, some even visit social networking websites through proxy servers while at the office. They all have a guilty pleasure or two, and so do I. And it’s not like we are a registered company that pays taxes to the government. We pay the tea boys less than the minimum wage, so let’s not get all high and mighty here.”

The boss, who was till that point sitting aggressively at the edge of his chair finally let out a big sigh and slumped back. This employee could report them to the authorities, and then they would have to pay taxes which in no way would be acceptable to the owner of the company.

“All I am saying is that this is the holy month of Ramzan, and as a Muslim you should not look at such pictures while fasting. You do fast, don’t you?” This time around, the boss’ tone was very polite. The employee smiled, he knew he had saved his job.

“Yes sir I do. And rest assured this will never happen again.” He even saved his boss the whole ‘I am letting you off with a warning’ speech as he walked away.

The boss looked at the links shared with him by the IT department as proof. He clicked on a link, then another, and then another. His screen filled with tab after tab of colorful images of a diverse range of food; desi food, Chinese food, Italian food, and exotic cuisines with unknown origins. 

One picture of a beef burger was so mouthwatering that the boss could feel its yummy, juicy delights in his mouth. He tried to remind himself that he was fasting, and that he should not be doing the same thing he almost fired his employee for, but he couldn't stop himself from clicking one picture after another. It’s not like I am actually eating it. My fast is still in tact. He clicked on the image of the beef burger so he could zoom in to get a better look.