Rivaj - Minaal Maan
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
He had been on his way to getting wasted the day he had met her, and he still remembered that day as if it were just yesterday; the dying rays of the sun and the faint scent of an approaching rain shower in the air. He remembered the dull throb in his temples as he was walking through the wet streets of the City of Gardens. It had been a long day: a stream of unwanted clients followed by an even larger stream of insults about not putting in any effort.
He found himself unconsciously rubbing his left wrist, and winced as he realized how sore it was. Images of a man pinning him against the wall only a couple of seconds after he had greeted him raced through his mind like a movie on repeat, and he was reminded yet again of just how brutal human beings could actually be. He knew his arms would be covered with bruises, he could practically feel them through the thin material of the silk shirt he was wearing. The shirt had been picked out for him and he had not been given a choice about whether he wanted to wear it, but then again, when was he ever given a choice really? He had accepted the fact that his body was not his own a long time ago, and had even gone through a phase where he had wanted to cut off his own limbs if it meant acceptance in regular society, but had concluded that there simply was no place for people like him in this world, no matter how hard they tried.
He smiled softly as a flock of pigeons flew past him and was amazed at how close they flew to one another. They did not grow up with their original parents either, but were brought into this world and then made to find their own way. Soon, they found a flock they could call their family. People like him, he realized, were like those pigeons.
The noise of the traffic around him now seemed to ring in his ears as he neared his destination, and his blood nearly sang inside his veins as he thought about the few hours of sweet detachment that lay before him. He had enough money to get him high on the cheap hash that could easily be bought near the shrine, and that was all he needed; just a few hits that might help him forget for a while.
His own parents had left him out on the street in a bloodied towel, he remembered Razia Bibi, the madam who ran the enterprise he worked for, telling him once. She had found him, fed and clothed him, and raised him so he could earn for himself, and of course, this was the only way he could earn for himself. There was no future for people like him, no likelihood of an actual career. His body was not his own and he should be grateful for all these years that he had been taken care of. He owed her a great deal, he had always been told. So any money he made would be divided between her and himself. She had a right to it because she was like his mother.
It had started to rain and he found himself smiling as he approached the small tea shop. He had somehow ended up at the nearby Anarkali Bazaar instead of the place he had originally had in mind. The bazaar was busy as usual and he realized this might be better than getting wasted alone. Here, he could pretend he was part of another world, a world where he was not used and abused because of the way he was born. He could try blending in.
Her breath came in white puffs and she struggled to keep her gaze locked onto the tiny clouds of moisture before they were carried off on a phantom wind. The sky started to darken as she sat there, watching the slow descent of the sun as it slipped below the horizon. Now, it wouldn’t be long before it was completely dark and she would be expected to be home. Home; just the thought of the word had brought an unpleasant taste in her mouth. But she swallowed past it.
She found herself stealing glances at the screen of her phone every five minutes, to see the time, or perhaps a message that she knew in her heart she would not see. He hated that sort of thing because according to him texting had caused people to completely disregard the value of face-to-face human interaction.
He was late, she realized, and then sighed. They would not be able to see the sunset together today as they had been doing for six months now. A wry smile made its way onto her face as memories of the first time they had met washed over her. She had been wandering around the infamous Anarkali Bazaar, desperate to get lost in the noise and crowd, to escape the one place she had always relied on; her mind. Lately it had been filled with demons and thoughts that would haunt her as soon as she touched upon them. She would often find herself lost in them and then it was always a real effort pulling herself back to reality, or what she believed to be reality anyway.
The Bazaar helped, she had found out one lonely afternoon when she was supposed to be out looking at some jewelry to wear at her upcoming wedding, with her friends. She had told them that she was not feeling well and that they could go the next day, and had instead taken a taxi to the old city on a sudden impulse. The Anarkali Bazaar had always been a source of awe for her ever since she was a little girl because she had read and heard the story about the girl who had loved a Mughal prince and had then consequently been nailed to the wall. Of course, she had never actually been allowed to come here on her own. Her parents had labeled it as a “loud” and “outrageous” place, not at all appropriate for young girls like her, but she had always wondered what it would be like to get lost in the crowd here. It had come as a relief then to sit here at one of the tea shops while everyone went on about their lives, selling wares and haggling over the prices. She preferred watching these people to staying at home and getting lost in her own thoughts, and so had begun a string of almost-daily excursions that involved lying about her whereabouts to almost everyone.
She had found him sitting across from her one day, his eyebrows filled in darkly and lips painted bright pink. Her heartbeat had quickened at first simply because of everything she had been told about hijras all her life; that she was supposed to stay away from them, that they were God’s curse, and that they were unclean and, thus, girls like her were not meant to speak to them. The last part was perhaps the only reason she did end up striking up a conversation then, for she had been tired of being the perfect little doll and had wanted to do something “outrageous” simply because she could. They had talked about many things that day, most of which might have been considered trivial by anyone else, but to her, they held meaning. She had instantly started to admire the way he seemed to look at life, how even the simplest things could draw a smile from him, such as the sun setting below the horizon or even a lone bird soaring across the sky.
They had talked about everything; from the gradual journey of the sun during the day to their differentiated music tastes, and after that first day she had found herself returning almost every day to the same place and he would walk over from where he lived near the ever-popular shrine. They would order tea and talk about both trivial and important things while they watched the sunset. Of course, that might not be happening today, she thought as she glanced down at her phone. It was almost 5:45.
But then, just as she had started to convince herself that it was probably wise to head home, she felt someone plop into the chair next to hers and wordlessly pick up the cup of cold tea that had been sitting there for an hour. They sat in silence for a couple of minutes as they often did, just letting the feeling of being together in one place wash over them. She was engulfed by the strong perfume that he was made to wear and he was lost in the sensation of pressing his shoulder against hers. But then she turned to look at him and gasped when she saw the bruises that covered his arms and neck.
“What happened?” Her voice was barely above a whisper as she reached out to touch a particularly large one on his arm.
“I am simply a vessel, remember? An object that serves as a vessel for humanity’s lust.” He said this with an attempt at a smile, but she could tell that it hurt him. Her mind drifted back to one of their earlier conversations when they had talked about him breaking away from the household he was part of. They had taken him when he was young and had no one, but they demanded his body in return, making him available to whoever was willing to pay enough, and so he was just a way for people to satisfy their dark desires in dark corners, because they knew he was cheaper than a woman, and safer too.
“We will get you out, Chand,” she whispered, running her fingers over the tender skin of his swollen neck. By “we” she only meant herself and him of course, because she had not told anyone about him. God knew that would be a disaster. He knew that too. He also knew that the chances of getting out were slim, so he had not allowed himself to think about a better future. But, he smiled for her sake and told her he looked forward to that day very much.
She could feel the thunder echoing her heartbeat as she wiped the glasses her mother had picked out for the dinner that night. The smooth glass felt sharp as a blade as she ran her fingers over the rim, and she was reminded yet again about just how important tonight was to her mother. Of course it was, she scoffed as she set the now dry glass on the kitchen counter. Her only remaining daughter would soon be married and off to “her own house” which meant that she had fulfilled her role as a mother and could now focus on herself at this old age. Of course, “focusing on herself” held a different meaning for her mother; it meant she could now retreat into the exotic world of high-end boutiques and the carefully planned hi teas and brunches organized for the sole purpose of holding detailed discussions about who was currently at the top of the social ladder.
“Tanya, put a smile on that face for goodness sake.” Her mother’s voice pierced through her thoughts and she was jolted back to the present. “They’ll be here soon and I don’t want anything messing this up.” She sighed and mumbled that she would try her best. “Do you think Kashif likes chocolate pudding?” Her mother added as an afterthought and she had to swallow past the bile that had risen in her throat at the mention of that name. Her lips moved wordlessly as she tried to come up with a suitable answer, but she was spared the effort due to a commotion outside. She realized that her father was here and exhaled as soon as her mother had left the kitchen to greet him. She would probably take a few minutes because her father always made it a point to vent out the struggles of being the CEO of a huge company and about how some poor soul had managed to pique his anger and had, thus, been the victim of his wrath.
Kashif. That name alone was enough to bring a sour taste to her tongue, so the mere thought of spending the rest of her life with him was downright revolting. She sighed, remembering a time when his name might not have sounded so wrong, a time where she, being the naïve little girl that she was, had believed that everything about the boy she was going to marry was perfect and that she was the luckiest girl in the world to have parents who had found such a good match for her. That little girl had spent her whole life believing that this world was full of opportunities. She had been exposed to a mirage, a beautiful web of lies carefully spun to direct the path she would take.
She recalled the countless phone calls where he had promised her the world, had read to her words of poetry that she had stupidly believed were for her alone. She had imagined starting a family with him and had had countless dreams about two children, a boy and a girl, chasing each other around a small garden, their laughter echoing around her and Kashif.
“Is the gravy ready?” Her mother was back and was now pestering the cook. “I don’t want that woman to find anything to complain about this time. God knows how I manage to listen to her rants about bad food every time we talk.” She resisted the urge to mention that her mother was just the same when it came to long-winded rants about nothing in particular. But she bit her tongue and kept her gaze down on the glasses she had placed in two neat rows on the counter. Seconds passed before she felt a feathery touch on her shoulder, brushing back the stray strands of hair that had fallen out of the hastily made bun on her head. “Have you been conditioning the way I asked you to?” She simply nodded her head and let her mother run her fingers through the soft curls that she had inherited from her grandmother. “You know,” her mother added in a conspiratorial tone, “I bet Kashif won’t be able to take his eyes off you if you straighten it.”
She could practically feel her blood turning to ice in her veins at the mention of that name again. Her heart seemed to be hammering in her chest as she struggled to keep her voice level. “I like my curls,” she replied stiffly moving out of her mother’s reach as she started making her way out of the kitchen.
She let the cool air caress her face as she stood looking down at the city that was still far from asleep. Lahore would always hold a special place in her heart no matter where she went later, she realized as her gaze fell on a stray dog scampering across the street to seek refuge under a car as the rain continued to pour down in sheets. She suppressed a bitter laugh as she imagined the streets flooded with water and people, her people, trying to wade across them the next day. Her thoughts then drifted to the narrow streets of the old city, the place that had somehow managed to wind its way into her heart, and then they drifted to that one person in particular who had been like a tether to the world the past few months, and it was enough to draw a small smile from her lips as she remembered how she felt in those few stolen moments at the bazaar. But then, as the wind continued to howl and there was one particularly loud clap of thunder followed by purple lightning that seemed to cast everything in a ghastly glow, she was reminded of the fact that her life was not her own.
Dinner had mostly consisted of everyone remarking how she and Kashif were made for each other and about how they could not wait for the wedding. Her father had joked about how they were practically family already and she had noticed how Kashif’s father had nodded with a cold smile plastered across his face, seeing her father for what he really was: an opportunist. It made her sick to think her own father was willing to offer her as goodwill where business was concerned.
Thunder rumbled in the distance and wind howled through the city as she neared her destination. The rickshaw driver had taken out a pair of earphones and was quietly humming along to the song playing on his phone. He had not bothered with small talk, and she was glad for that because she was in no mood for meaningless conversations initiated for the sole purpose of filling a long-drawn silence that might have otherwise been unpleasant and awkward for most people.
She did not mind the silence and welcomed it today as it stretched on between them, giving her a chance to truly absorb the city around her. The sky outside had darkened in a matter of minutes and she could smell rain in the air as they sped down the wide roads of the relatively new part of the city where the newly established elite class had decided to settle, while the old city remained a cluster of buildings and narrow streets cast aside by people who had forgotten its cultural value and had chosen to label it as a “backward place.” She then imagined her parents sitting at home debating how long it would be till their daughter got back so they could talk to her about the impending wedding that lay ahead. Her heart clenched at the mere thought of a wedding and she tried to focus on where she was headed instead.
The city passed by in a blur and Tanya attempted to keep track of the many billboards and buildings that symbolized how the corporate sector of the city had flourished over the years. Tall glass structures seemed to be glaring down at the traffic below, and the few evergreen trees planted at the side of the road seemed to be observing the cars that whizzed past them, cursing their occupants. She sighed as she realized that this was what her parents stood for.
Chand had been a welcome distraction, and she smiled as she remembered that they had planned on eating at one of the many shabby restaurants located in The Anarkali Bazaar. It would start to rain in a while and she yearned to feel the cool raindrops on her bare skin. Soon the rickshaw had slowed down and they were meandering through streets that were flooded with rainwater that had collected there yesterday. People had pulled the ends of their trousers up and were wading through the water and she smiled, relishing the noise and smell that lingered in the air. A street hawker was selling fried items at the corner and her gaze stayed locked on him until they had turned onto the next street.
Twenty minutes later, she was sipping tea from a small porcelain cup as the wind ruffled her hair. The bazaar was as noisy as ever, the weather not having any effect on the hagglers or shopkeepers. She found herself gazing up at the infinite grey sky, at the vast expanse of nothingness that looked beautiful and terrible at the same time as lightning forked across it.
“This world is cruel, isn’t it?” she whispered, thinking about her parents and Kashif.
“The world is beautiful.” was the reply. “It is we who make it seem cruel.”
She was quiet for a moment, letting his words sink in. The sound of his voice was like a drug, pulling her closer with each syllable, and the mere amount of optimism lacing each word he uttered was enough to blow her away. She noticed the newly formed bruises on his arms and winced as her fingers came in contact with the tender skin.
“We can’t control our fates,” he whispered when she asked who it had been this time.
“Maybe we can,” she told him and continued. “I plan on getting you out of here, remember?” He was silent then, and soon they had both been silent for five minutes, lost in their own thoughts. He was thinking about how this beautiful woman was making him promises that she might not be able to keep but how she still managed to bring a smile to his lips without trying, how he was willing to run away with her one day but that the day would never come. Nonetheless, he allowed himself to think of a future with her for one single moment and found himself smiling as he imagined seeing her face every day.
She was thinking about all that she wanted to do for this person who had come to mean so much to her, and who was ten times better than Kashif. She imagined her parents’ expressions if they found out about him and felt a shiver go down her spine. She then realized that perhaps it would be a good thing if they found out. She found herself spilling everything to him then, her words tumbling over one another as she talked, and Chand reached out to take her hand as she explained how her own father had decided that a business investment was worth a whole lot more than his daughter’s happiness, how it did not matter to her mother if her daughter’s fiancé had been with another woman while being engaged to her. According to her, it would all sort itself out after they were married.
She recalled the day she had found out about the other woman and how it had felt seeing them together. The mirage she had so carefully constructed about a life with him had shattered right then, and she had cried for what felt like an eternity after her mother had told her that breaking the engagement now would only bring them unnecessary embarrassment as everyone in their social circle expected a wedding soon. The invitations would soon be sent out.
“I feel like I’m suffocating,” she said and went on to explain how her parents had controlled every decision she had ever made. She had hoped that she would gain control of her life after she was out of their house, but that seemed impossible now, especially ever since Kashif had started enquiring about her whereabouts every three hours. She could already picture how the rest of her life would play out.
Somewhere in the middle of her rant, they had walked over to a shop at the very end of the street. It was dark and Chand said the owner was a friend from the shrine that was nearby. He would not be back till tomorrow and it was starting to pour outside. They sat together on the floor in the dark and she listened while he told her how he had gotten the new bruises on his arms. Her heart broke for him as he recounted the day’s events to her in detail.
“You don’t deserve this,” she told him as they sat side by side on the dusty floor, shoulders pressed together, their voices muffled due to the thunder outside. He traced an intricate pattern on the inside of her palm as they both gazed out of the open window at the now dark sky that would occasionally light up. Nodding wordlessly, he brought her palm to his lips before bestowing a chaste kiss there, murmuring how she deserved a lot more as well.
She knew something was wrong even before she opened her eyes. Tanya could tell that the rain from the previous night had stopped, judging by the warmth she felt behind her eyelids. The floor beneath her felt dirtier than it had a few hours ago and when she lifted a trembling finger to her face, it came away wet. She realized she was sweating profusely due to the lack of air conditioning. Her heart sank as the events of the previous night came rushing back, and she peeled her eyes open. She was alone. The faint smell of spices mixed with the rain from the previous night lingered in the air, and she breathed in deeply.
The small shop was bathed in a soft golden glow and nothing except the comparatively clean patch on the ground next to where she had been lying signified that there had been two people in the room a few hours ago: two broken human beings, both trying to convince the other that they were not alone, that they could change their fates. She remembered how easy he had made it all sound, standing up to her parents, saying no to Kashif, telling everyone that she had a say in her future. He had sounded so sure that she could do it, had insisted that she try. She had assured him over and over that she would get him out of the role he was being forced to play just so a few people could satisfy their lust without feeling guilty about it, and he had shook his head. “I want to believe that,” he had said.
She knew she needed to get back home. Chand had left for the establishment he worked at and she was alone in a stranger’s shop. So with her heart hammering inside her chest at the thought of the stares she would, undoubtedly, receive when people outside would see a woman stepping out of a shop that was supposed to be closed, she made her way to the door. Pausing in the doorway, she tried to commit the place to memory, her gaze sliding over the spices stacked in the back and then the spot under the window where they had sat the previous night. When Tanya stepped out, she blinked, her eyes not yet used to the sunlight.
The bazaar was busier than ever. Some people had taken it upon themselves to clear the streets of water and she watched, as they worked, for a minute before striding in the other direction. Vendors selling fruit and spices called out to her as she passed and she caught sight of a few shops that had embroidered shirts and shawls displayed outside. On a normal day she would have stopped and marveled at how everyone was stuck in their own routine and how delectable the sweets at a particular sweetshop looked, but, today, her heart felt as if it were weighed down.
She welcomed the burden, knowing she needed to feel it completely in order to do what she planned on doing. Her mind reeled with memories as they washed over slowly and then all at once, and she was surprised that she had not broken down earlier.
She was at the corner now and traffic was moving relatively faster here. She raised her hand when a rickshaw came into view and sighed in relief when the driver agreed to make the long journey to the other part of the city for her. She tried to keep the memories at bay as they crashed into her in waves, but it was futile. Her mind flashed back to the day her acceptance letter from Princeton had come. She had been over the moon, expecting her parents to be happy as well for their daughter. But, they had refused to send her on the grounds of not wanting their precious angel so far away from them. Two months later she found out that it had, in fact, been the possibility of a business investment that had stopped her from going. That had been when Kashif had first been mentioned in their house. A wave of white hot hatred washed over her, and she was surprised to find that most of it was directed at her own self for choosing to agree to everything back then. She had had a chance to get out of it, but being the naïve, little girl that she had been, she had agreed.
Lahore whizzed by her as they drove down its familiar roads, the driver navigating through the rough traffic as if it were second nature to him, which she supposed it was. Buildings and cars blurred together and she struggled to keep her breathing steady as she realized exactly how close she had been to achieving her dream.
The conversation she had had with her mother a week after she had found out about Kashif rang in her ears and she had to fight the bile that was rising up her throat. “Can’t you do one thing for your father and me?” She had been unable to form words then, too shocked by what was being asked of her and too sickened after realizing exactly what her parents were prepared to sacrifice for their own social positions. Her mind then drifted to that one memory she had tried to repress for months now, the one instance that had cleared any doubt she might have had about her marriage.
She had been eating out at a restaurant with her friends and it had been a warm afternoon. They had been having such a good time that she had not heard her phone ringing while she was there. Upon coming home, she had found that Kashif was there with his parents. They had all brushed aside the fact that she had missed her parents’ calls, but he had taken her aside before leaving.
“Don’t you dare pull that again,” he had said, and she could still tell exactly where he had squeezed her arm because the bruise was still there.
She had heard about Heera Mandi, the infamous market of Lahore originally known for being the center of the city’s Tawaif culture and then as a red light district, but had never imagined herself going there. People were staring at the strange woman who had dismounted a rickshaw but was carrying a designer bag. Men made eye contact with each other, and the few women who were gathered outside whispered as she made her way towards them. A strand of hair fell into her face and she reached up to tuck it behind her ear. A lone pigeon scampered across the grimy road and took flight as soon as she got near enough.
Chand had told her almost all she needed to know, about how someone would have to pay his guru if they wanted to free him. She knew a price needed to be paid, she just didn’t know how much. The transgender community was very tight-knit, he had told her. They took these things very seriously.
She did not have to walk for long. Soon she was near the end of the street and could feel more eyes on her. There was a group of people standing outside an apparently tiny shop, their bangles jangling on their arms as they talked animatedly amongst themselves, and their red panted mouths moved rapidly as they chattered and laughed. They all looked to be in their twenties, and she couldn’t help but marvel at the numerous distinguished features. A few of them had their hair cropped close to their necks like Chand, while others had hair that reached their shoulders or the small of their backs, and sunlight was reflecting off the chunky jewelry that most of them were wearing. Tanya approached one of them, her heart beginning to beat rapidly inside her chest.
“Is this Razia Bibi’s establishment?”
The streets of her neighborhood had never looked wider to her and the houses on either side had never seemed more cold and unwelcoming as they did in that moment. The few trees that had been left untouched while the so called elite class had established themselves here stood tall and proud as automobiles cruised past them, and their branches seemed to be reaching up towards the sky in silent prayer. A sense of deadly calm had washed over ever since she had left the market behind, and she had maintained it through the entire taxi-ride after that. The memories had not stopped playing through her mind like a movie set on rewind though. She could still picture her mother telling her that she had no shame when she had asked her to postpone her engagement party, a party that had been held just so all her parents’ friends could see how well they had married their daughter and what it meant for her father’s firm.
The car had stopped in front of the black gate at the end of the street, and the color was beckoning to her, engulfing her in its cool embrace. Soon, the gate was opened and she stepped out of the cab, wordlessly handing over a wad of money to the driver before making her way inside.
The house she had grown up in felt like a stranger’s now. She knew she had only stood in the kitchen a day earlier, biting her tongue because she had not felt like she had it in her to fight. The previous day had changed her in more ways than one, she realized as she reached the living room where her parents were sitting, both clutching steaming cups of green tea.
Her mother locked eyes with her as she entered, and her father placed his cup on the side table, taking care not to spill a single drop. “Where were you, Tanya?” No tears of joy at the sight of her daughter standing safe and sound before her, not even an attempt at a hug.
“It started to rain so I stayed at Sana’s house.”
“Did the neighbors see you going into her house so late?” her father asked while her mother glared disapprovingly in her direction. “She has brothers and cousins over too.”
That question alone was enough to make her feel sick to her stomach, but her mother chose that moment to add, “We have news.” Her heart slowed. “Kashif’s father has to go to Spain in July so the wedding has been moved to next month.” She said it with such certainty, such confidence that there was no room for a discussion.
Tanya knew it was clear outside, but at that moment she could feel thunder roaring inside her head. Her father was talking now, but all she could decipher was his lips moving rapidly and her mother beaming with happiness at the prospect of telling all her friends. She struggled to breathe as her lungs started to feel like they would stop functioning any minute. The room was spinning around her, and she was trying to find something inside of her to tether her to reality before her sight left her. She was screaming now and could feel her throat closing up as her father stood up. Her head felt like someone had slammed it against the wall as she sank to her knees.
He struggled to pour the dark brown liquid equally into the three cups, and tried not to wince when a single drop of scalding hot tea landed on his thumb as he placed them all on a tray and started making his way over to the three young boys sitting a few meters away. They appeared to be about nineteen or twenty years old and, judging by their refined accents, leather jackets and gelled hair, were from well-established families in need of a way to satisfy their lust at the market that was not too far from where they were now, in small dark rooms with nameless faces, and the resources to keep everyone quiet about it as well. He noticed a grey pigeon perched on the empty chair at the table next to the three boys and tried not to move too quickly, knowing it would flee the minute it was disturbed.
“That will be two hundred,” he said in a monotone, placing the tray on the table. The bird took flight then, and the boy sitting in the middle made a show of pulling out two folded notes from his wallet, without pausing in his conversation with his friends. Chand pocketed the money with a smile before walking back to the kitchen where the others were. The smell of freshly fried potato fritters greeted him as he stepped inside and took up his spot at the counter. The bazaar was like it always had been; noisy and bursting with life as people went about their daily lives. He saw a woman striding across the street opposite the tea shop and for one blissful moment his heart skipped a beat. But then as she lifted her face to the sun, he saw that she had straight dark hair instead of the curly brown, and plain brown eyes instead of the warm hazel ones he had dreamed about every day since he had been released by his guru.
He did not know where she was or whether she was still in the same city as it had been over six months now. All he knew was that she was still alive somewhere out there and that was because a month ago, the man who owned the spice store a few streets away had found a folded piece of paper slid under his door with the words, “You deserve a lot more.” He liked to look at that piece of paper in moments when he particularly yearned to hear her voice or to see her face light up with a smile like it always had when they had shared countless conversations about their lives and the world.
Minaal Maan is a young freelance writer who has just published her debut novel, “Our Tainted Souls’, available in paperback and ebook form. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Daily Times and she was also featured on the virtual open mic session held by the Dubai Literary Salon earlier this year. She has also recently launched "The Pakistan Chronicle" an online magazine that focuses on highlighting emerging voices and can be found on Instagram as @thepakistanchronicle.
Minaal enjoys writing about strong female leads as well as the transgender community and is drawn to the contemporary fiction genre. Her Instagram handle is @minaalmaan