Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao
Illustration: Arati Kumar-Rao


A translation of 'Doodh', a short story by Mashiul Alam. Winner of the Himal Short Story Competition 2019.

Click here for the full selection from Himal Southasian’s 2019 short story competition.


Once there was a severe flood in the month of Magh.
– Local saying


Salimuddi's wife Julekha did deliver the baby, but barely two months had passed when her breastmilk dried up. What was the baby supposed to survive on? There was no answer to Julekha's brutal question. He who was Master of the land and the skies was also Master of Julekha's breastmilk; this Julekha believed. But now it seemed to her that the Divine Master had pursed His lips in a smirk when He saw the distressing situation Julekha and her baby were in. It made her very angry. God was exceedingly whimsical: these words continued to beat in her heart. Unable to bear it, one day she held her baby away from her breast, looked up to the sky and blurted out, "This wasn't a good thing you did, Allah."

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Himal Southasian