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half on road, half on pavement

Was I doing this?

Cycling with white people to campus? My headscarf flapped as we swept past a mist-filled meadow, Lloyd’s bank, and too many cars. White people moved too fast. A grown woman, I’d no experience of moving so fast, cycling on a real road, in England, infested with endless cars. I’d landed in London a few days ago. I was raw from the frosty stares of old white women, reminding me I wasn’t home.

But could you pedal for your life while utter desolation bubbled up within, but nobody knew? Glancing right, my eyes caught in a pair of brilliant blue eyes. They belonged to a woman comfortable in her seat, whose eyes in that second gently touched mine, didn’t glance away or frost over like old white women. My heart poured out a tumult of anguish, to be with this woman, so at home in the foggy morning, not pedaling through the mist? Did she smile? At a foreign, headscarfed woman on a bicycle? I loved her. I fell in love with her eyes and smile

In that moment my wheel lurched against the curb. I landed in a puddle of scarf, bicycle, legs – half on road, half on pavement, headscarf flipped onto my eyes, shamed amidst honking traffic. Colleagues clucked over me, helping the foreign student back on her bicycle so she could get on already with cycling into the fog, – she was gone, I was still here.


this was my submission to NYC Midnight, a 250 word micro-fiction challenge. The assigned genre was romance, the verb ‘falling off a bicycle.’ I was instantly reminded of falling off my bicycle in busy traffic on a cold morning in Cambridge – not Cambridge, Massachusetts, but the UK – trying to keep up with English fellow students en route to our department. It was indeed my first time cycling on a busy road anywhere, and my first time as an adult anywhere but Pakistan. I did not of course fall in love with a blue eyed lady as I fell, but I thought the image captured my sense of displacement, loneliness, and yearning very nicely.

2 thoughts on “half on road, half on pavement”

  1. I really enjoy your blogs I am in love with your style and sometimes use your expressions when they suit me (chorata hun)Not so pleasant expereince of falling off your bike on the cold foggy mornings of CambridgeI fll from my bike on my way to Bhimber from Kotla on a rented bike (do aanay fee ghanta). Early days of Azad Kashmir developmentThere were no ladies around and I was in trouble for cycle repairLove you baitee, am so happy about Izza and Khaldoon ( so much used to Ibn Khaldun that saying Khaldun seems like half the name) Wahaj-ud-Din Ahmad M.D.

    1. I feel so happy when you said you are in love with my style. My buddhi amma style is a very sad and gloomy one. I would love to hear more of your stories.

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