Tayyaba Iftikhar

[Flash Fiction]  Broken Brights

I choose to be forgettable. You laugh and ask me how I’d achieve that. Some years ago, the thought of being forgotten was despairing and alienating enough to have earnest conversations with God in busy streets and empty rooms. Please, I would say, I want people to remember my name. Now I pause at your question: how can I?


There were so many mustard fields on the way to Lahore. The yellow flowers swaying and dreaming, and often a nameless child trampling through the blossoms running after cattle. Back then I would gingerly move my spoon over a bowl of sweet Firni and grin at the coveted wobbly skin on top. But now I take notes while the doctor speaks, scour research journals and have angry arguments with God. Memory disintegrates with time but mine already seems fractured, splintered simultaneously across all possible existences – and nothing. The doctor reassures me. I pretend that we are both characters in a movie and the camera focuses on his face, his lightly moistened lips. Then it tilts above us; two individuals sitting across each other; a terribly intimate scene, one probing the other’s mind. I imagine his hands stroking the soft sunken crevasses of my brain setting every neural receptor ablaze, the spaces between his fingers full of warm blood. In a few minutes, this will be over but the film will continue – and the story will be shared by people, relieved that it was not them.


Sometimes I close my eyes, only to open them and find myself in a mustard field. The sun is bright, my heart is bursting like a ripe plum, the freckles on my cheeks darkening with glee and – as I swallow, unable to believe – the taste of sugar on my tongue.


Tayyaba Iftikhar is a PR professional and a freelance writer with experience in the social sector. She writes about food, feminism, pop culture and nostalgia. Her work has appeared in Roads and Kingdoms and The Express Tribune.

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