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Physics student. Under the inky-black sky, with a steaming cup of chai in my hands, I watch the stars and I write.
Photo by Alexandre Debiève on Unsplash

When an exhausting day comes to a close, when our mind seeks for a way out of our worldly troubles, when time stretches on with no end in sight — we turn to what relaxes us the most. We look to escape into somebody else’s life, to dive into problems that have neat solutions. We look to stories; to fiction.

But with the Twitter era, our attention span has narrowed down to absorb 280-character stories. We understand memes without context. When we return after a day’s break from social media, we are lost — because we no longer understand what…

Traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with pol sambole (image from honestlyyum)

After a whole year spent withering away in my bed, consuming books mindlessly just to feel something in the middle of a pandemic, and unconsciously blocking off all thoughts of my future, receiving the acceptance letter to study at one of the most prestigious universities in Pakistan jolted me awake. But little did I know — as I excitedly read out the letter to my parents — that I’d be leaving home within the week.

I, who cling to familiarity with inexplicable desperation — I, who avoid social interaction like the plague — I was going to leave the country…

Image by Marisa Sias from Pixabay

Every writer knows that the character who’s been living in their heads rent-free for years and the character who finally makes it to the page are not one and the same.

Often, we tend to polish them up to such an extent that they no longer appear human. They are calm in the face of danger, they have no tells that give them away when they lie, they don’t have any unconscious habits that annoy the hell out of people. Yes, none of us would like to write an obviously flawed protagonist. But that’s exactly what readers are looking for.

Image by kirillslov from Pixabay

Whether it is a high school bully, or a psychotic clown with a penchant for unleashing chaos, or even an intergalactic warlord conquering the galaxies of the universe — every story has a villain. The villain is just as important as the hero, sometimes even more so.

If you’re a fiction writer, let me tell you something. I’m part of a lot of book fandoms, and what they all have in common is this: a love for the villains. I know readers who hate the hero but still love the book because the villain was formidable. …

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

There is no sickness a writer dreads more than a bout of writer’s block. One moment, you’re on a roll, typing away into the late hours. And the next — you’re struggling to craft a simple sentence, your mind wandering off dark paths. We’ve all been there. But we’re all still struggling.

You tell yourself that your life depends on it. You tell yourself that your readers will be mad at you (or you hope). You tell yourself a thousand different things, but you’re still writing — and backspacing — that one sentence.

Sometimes you just have to let go…

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Medium, like any other platform for writers, is full of writing advice. You need to read ten articles to find one that sounds legit. You need to read another twenty to find one that works for you. Because, often, what worked for the writer may not work for the reader.

Some writers advise you to read and re-read your stories, so you could find your mistakes yourself. Others would tell you to get a beta reader or even a grammar-checker like Grammarly. Some others would ask you to read your work once, hit ‘publish’, and move on.

That last advice…

Image by My pictures are CC0. When doing composings: from Pixabay

The days of warmth I still remember,
the moments of boredom and deep slumber;
the way we used to camp in a small number;
and the songs we sang around the dying ember.

Every laughter we shared all those years ago,
all those jokes we cracked every second or so,
and the meaningless quarrels that lasted a day or more,
flashed across my mind as I rocked to and fro.

The falling leaves swirled around me in the breeze,
and carpeted the pathway with apparent ease. …

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

It was in the spring of her youth that Fatima al-Fihri came to an awful realization: her beloved hometown did not want her there anymore. The city of Qairawan, her birthplace, was chasing her — and a thousand others like her — away with its unbearable taxes.

Fatima al-Fihri (800–880 AD) was the daughter of Abdellah Mohammed ibn Abdellah al-Fihri. Growing up in a family that gave priority to education, Fatima and her sister Maryam soon came to be known for their intelligence, wisdom and generosity. …

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

From the very beginning of time, the universe has been expanding. The stars and the galaxies and the black holes are accelerating away from each other, while we struggle by in our daily activities, caught up in our mundane problems. We think we have figured out most of what’s happening out there, only to be proven completely wrong with a new revelation.

With billions of light-years of space around us — crawling with the familiar and the unfamiliar, the predictable and the unpredictable — the number of unsolved mysteries are simply too large to be counted. …

Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

We all know of how Columbus explored the Americas (killing thousands of natives in the process, but that’s another story), of how Newton discovered gravity as an apple fell off a tree, of how Galileo improved the telescope (yes, improved not invented) and discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter.

But how many of us have heard of the legendary inventor Abbas Ibn Firnas who invented the first flying machine? Or of Fatima al-Fihri, who founded the world’s first university? …

Sharika Hafeez

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