Posts Tagged ‘K.M. Zafari’

Festival of Love
by KM Zafari

I dream of you sometimes. We are back in Mumbai, and I am getting a shave at a roadside stand.

“There’s something I never told you,” I say. “A secret.”

“After 30 years?” you ask.

“Yes,” I say and begin my confession. “The truth is, we didn’t meet at the Holi festival by chance. The first time I saw you, I was sitting in this very spot. I caught your reflection in the mirror as you passed by. You were impossible to miss – tall, sandy blond hair, looking more like you should be shooting surfers in Sydney than at a Hindu celebration.”

I tell you that I knew I was too plain to capture your attention and how I assumed you were there to photograph the festivities, so I searched for you in the crowds, hoping that the color, the magic of Holi would bring you to me. I tell you how happy I was that I was right and that I would marry you all over again.

You look a little teary, so I lament about how much my reflection has changed, and how you’ve aged so much better than I.

You stroke what’s left of my hair gently and tell me that I still look good to you, because you really are the same, sweet boy I fell in love with in Bombay.

We talk about how much has happened over the years and how gratifying it has been to live life to the fullest, to love one another with abandon.

Then, we return to the Holi festival of our youth, and, amidst the fountains of colorful gulal blooming around us, I mark you with red kumkum powder, signifying you are mine.

I wake up wiping away tears, still wishing that, all those years ago, I’d had the courage to say hello.

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Homecoming
by K.M. Zafari

The eyes staring at me from the photo mirror my own; aside from a smear of black paint, they are identical to mine. “I didn’t know Dad played football.”

“Toss it,” my sister says, after a cursory glance. She is the less sentimental of us two. “His pension barely covers what Medicare won’t, let alone a storage facility to house all his junk.”

“This isn’t junk,” I say. “These are memories.” I turn back to the box of photos, trying to pretend we aren’t deciding the importance of a man’s entire existence.

But here it is, a life in pictures. Star athlete. Prom king. High school graduate.

This is a man I never knew.

“He won’t even remember any of it, Jace.” Denise softens. “I don’t mean to sound cold, but pictures are meant to remind us of of things. And he’s just too far gone.”

I pick up another photo and slink to the floor.

Soldier.

These were the eyes that I remembered. The ones from after the war, whose stare was cold, unfeeling – a wall between who he’d been and who he’d been forced to become in the depths of a jungle far from home.

This whole time, I’d thought it was me. That I just wasn’t good enough. But suddenly, I understand – he saw in me a future he’d lost long ago.

I pick up the box of photos and carry them out to my car, then sit behind the wheel and stare at the carefree eyes of the star athlete, the eyes that had not yet seen. And he is no longer my drunk, angry father, but a man.

I peel out of the driveway. Denise runs after me, but I don’t hear her shouting, don’t care.

“Hi, Pop.”

He’d changed a lot in twenty years. Feeble, frail. His hands shake as he reaches up and cradles my face. “My boy,” he says. “My boy.” Tears fill his wrinkled, innocent eyes.

“Look what I found,” I say, showing him the picture of the man I want to know. “You never told me you played football.”

I’ll take the remaining pictures home. Some things are better left forgotten.

Hello again! As promised, here’s today’s second winner’s post! Thanks to everyone who wrote stories and to Steph Ellis for being more on top of judging than I was this past week. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Oh dear. You all certainly made me work this week and on a Monday night too. I had to read and reread a few times before I could make up my mind – and even then I kept chopping and changing placings. There really wasn’t a lot in it, especially between the Winner and the 1st RU and the 2nd RU, and oh, did I mention the HMs and those who didn’t get placed but were great as well? But in the end my choices covered the range of elements that get me every time – some were dark, some were moving, some were written by poets. What more could I ask for?

Golden Daffodils

Great fun, wonderful names and the line “Read it, buffoon, or I will eat your slab and urinate on your coiling” is inspired.  And don’t forget the puns ‘a host of Golden Daffodils’ meaning a totally different thing in this case!

War Games

A slow dawning that these are not quite the war games I expected, a child’s perspective on the weekly shop with them making the most of any edible opportunities – as kids will. I’m glad those days are behind me. Standout line: “If I’m holding a wedge of cheddar, it’s safe. German salami? It’s over – save yourself.”

Marked

This intriguing story hints at things rather than coming straight out and telling you what’s going on so that you can put your own interpretation on it. The mark is a visible representation of whatever events had occurred the night before – sex, drugs, something supernatural – it is for the reader to decide. But whatever happened, it has happened to so many others, it’s normal, plenty of others were ‘Marked’ and Jess would deal with the consequences of it in her own, brave way.

Eyes

Eyes are the one thing I’ve found that adds an extra something to any piece of dark writing, they certainly have the ‘cringe’ factor. Her fetish whilst not yet being the death of her – “Your fetish with eyes is going to be the death of you, my dear,” – is certainly the death of others.

Captured

Poor man, wanting to live the life of a hermit and then getting captured. I think there was an element of pride coming before a fall here, he was a little too cocky ‘sauntering’ to the door, then falling over the tripwires which he had claimed to know all about.

Those Eyes

The eyes have it – or not, in the case of this couple they are hiding so much – the ‘story waiting to be told’, a future built on lies and deceit, liar’s eyes. I wonder how much their desire for fame is going to keep them together.

Camouflage

A dangerous woman here, manipulative, setting the scene for a perfect murder. Not someone to be crossed. A lot is conveyed in a very short story.

HM: A Sword in the Hand by Angelique Pacheco

Beautifully descriptive piece: phrases such as the sword was ‘heavy and burdened with many a tale,’ ‘when I was sixteen and the lotus began to bloom,’ ‘rain poured down in silver sheets,’ all set the scene and tone perfectly. I like the way that although it finishes with him waiting for his attackers, for me it implies – because this story is being told some years later and he still has his sword – the younger version of Grandfather had fought of his attackers and won.

HM: The Confusing Nature of Student Life by Ewan Smith

Entertaining story focusing on those rites of passage we all have to go through with parents. Showing them we’re adult enough to have a drink, a partner, they’re reaction as they have to let go of the child and accept the adult. This was done with great humour and warmth and it was a nice twist that the blacking was accidental rather than a particular fashion statement.

2nd RU: The Poet Brigade and the Elixir of Truth by Richard Edenfield 

Gorgeous language and turns of phrase in this story. A tale of hope and the aspiration to change things using words, ‘feathered bullets bleached with an unfettered pride’ as youth and Ms Williams takes on Trump. Wonderful that there are those who have such visions and dreams although I’m not quite sure what Trump’s reaction would be. I think perhaps something from Mother Goose might be more at his level!

1st RU: Garden Party by Sal Page 

A very grim but extremely well-written piece. The pacing was perfect, drawing the reader on as the would-be victim turns the tables on her assailant and comes out the victor. The first line draws you in right away “He’s supposed to be dead but he’s staring at me,” sign-posting a wonderfully dark story is on its way. Plus there are elements that are blackly humorous “His kilt is still up around his waist, the sporran skewiff. No idea where the orange wig and tartan cap are.”

And our Round 130 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

K.M. Zafari

with

“Homecoming”

This is such a sad, but uplifting, story. The initial feeling that perhaps there is an element of estrangement between the children and their father changes as they dig through old memories and put them in perspective. It is the difference in the eyes of the younger, carefree footballer compared to the eyes of the soldier that reveals the truth, the effect that war can have on a person and subsequently their loved ones. The eyes have given Jace the understanding he needs to try and bridge the gap with his father, despite the latter’s dementia. Moving.

Congratulations, K.M.! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s second HumpDay Quickie!

Thank you again everyone for contributing your time and talents, especially our judges. The Angry Hourglass truly could not exist without your efforts. Next weekend, Sal Page is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.