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The Cities in Me

Sorayya Khan | The Aleph Review | February 7, 2018 | 2,085 words
Posted inEssays & Criticism, Nonfiction, Story

The Cities in Me

Novelist Sorayya Khan maps her path from Islamabad to Solvay.
Wikimedia Commons, Wagner Cassimiro via Flickr Creative Commons.

Sorayya Khan | The Aleph Review | February 2018 | 8 minutes (2,085 words)

Our latest Exclusive is a new essay by Sorayya Khan, published with the permission of The Aleph Review, which has the piece in print.

Naeem was 16 and I was 11, but the real difference in 1973 was that I knew his name and he didn’t know mine. Neither of us knew then that our shared life began on a yellow school bus in Islamabad, he in the back, me in the front. His single recollection is that I was the younger sister of a soccer teammate. I have two memories of him. My first is of his wide-open grin while he sits with friends in the last row of bus seats. Curly hair falls in waves around his face and he carries himself with a sixteen-year-old’s swagger that is electrifying to those of us whose feet barely reach the floor. To be grown like that one day! My second is of a photograph. He is on the front page of the school newspaper at a sports banquet where he has won an award. The paper is unnaturally white, the black and white photo too dark. He is dressed in a suit, holding a microphone, smiling shyly at his lucky girlfriend. Buried in a box, the folded newspaper accompanied him to all his cities, and then ours, before it surfaced in Ithaca with a bundle of a girlfriend’s drawings. My memory was accurate, except there’s nothing shy about his smile.

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