“Laal Aandhi” first appeared in the shared world anthology TRUTH OR DARE, edited by Max Booth III, from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. “Growing up in Pakistan, I heard stories of ‘missing people’ often showing up in gunny sacks. A friend of mine from Karachi told me how he once stumbled upon a gunny sack with a dead boy inside. I suppose this story stems from his experience and my fears.”
USMAN T. MALIK is a Pakistani vagrant camped in Florida. He reads Sufi poetry, likes long walks, and occasionally strums naats on the guitar. His work has been nominated for the Nebula award, and is forthcoming in the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Tor.com, and other venues. He is a graduate of Clarion West. His website is HERE.
Your narrator – Kaushik Narasimhan – is a management consultant by day, unpublished struggling writer by night. He tweets at @kazarelth.
“Saleem, Wasif, Ali Malik, and I. Always the four of us banded together against the uncertainties of a city running on trepidation. In this season of yoking and yearning, of bereavement and besetment, we started doing the thing we did, for with fear and death and sulfur in the air who would stop us? Who would point and say, Watch it, children, you must survive your age. Must get through one hell to enter another.
‘85 was the year of army generals and feudal lords touring their fiefdoms grandly while the populace died thrashing in gutters from starvation and heat and Hadood Law amputations. Of VIP villas and ruined shanties, bright-tiled facades and haunted houses, ‘police encounters’ and prison suicides, and insurgent bomb attacks.
Most of all, though, it was the summer we went to Bad Bricks during a laal andhi.”
About the Author
Usman T. Malik is an award-winning speculative fiction author from Pakistan. His short fiction has been published in magazines and books such as The Apex Book of World SF, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, and Black Static and in a number of “year’s best” anthologies. He is the first Pakistani to win the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. He has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award, the World Fantasy Award, and has twice been a finalist for the Nebula Award.