Tall Tales, Short Stories writing competition – Highly Commended: Laiq Ahmed

Recorded on date : November 30, 2020

Laiq completed Henry Peplow‘s short story ‘Master Sunny

Bakhri was not one for frivolity and to him such a feeling was clearly ephemeral. London lacked the pungent smell of dung, the emphatic banging of pots and the balmy heat in which his home had. His eyes then drifted to the far river where a congregation of boys no older than 5 or 6. Silly boys they were. Always dawdling round that river, gushing in all its glory.

“Bakhri, I haven’t got all day,” Raihan remarked. Bakhri could no longer delay such a task, he’d been putting it off for weeks.

“Bakhri get back here and help with the washing,” his mother yelled from across the road. He stood looming over the, his bare feet clawing at the soft wet soil. How did Raihan get him into stupid things like this? Was he getting some sort of hold over me?

“Jump Bakhri!” Raihan said.

With the sensation that he felt like he was throwing his life away, he jumped into the ghastly rapid river followed by a boisterous smash.

“Bakhri!” his mother shouted whilst running to the river, dripping clothes in hand. “Oh you silly boy what have you done! Bakhri I told you many times to stop playing with that silly boy and to help me around the house, what will I tell you father!”

Bakhri felt a sharp chill trickle down the back of his neck, the blue/purple marks on his back had not healed from not eating all his food. However, he knew his mother would never say a word, she loved him too much.

“Now help me with this washing beta,” Bakhri’s mother said with her soothing voice.

Bakhri had a deep fervour to his mother, his father was not one for affection and love and so his emotions piled towards his mother. As Bakhri finished up with the washing he trotted over to his spot on the dirt track, a pavement sprinkled with varying sizes of rocks with a small wooden stall knocked over to one side. He erected his stool from the dirt track, scraping off an Anglo bubbly bubble gum rapper and took the polish and brush out of his pocket and placed them to one side.

“Here, my friend, here! I can clean your shoes so they are good as new!” Bakhri shouted banging his brush against the pavement.

A man walked over to him, a strange look plastered across his venerable and matured face. The man examined him fo r a while, reading him, analysing him and studying him.

“My shoes?” the man said with a deep monochrome tone.

“Yes sir any shoe, I make new,” Bakhri beamed. Bakhri thought of himself as a true showman, he was very proud t hat he was able to do 5 tricks compared to Raihan measly 4. He truly cherished his job, the sun warm on his back and the soothing breeze. A master he was. Master Sunny.


Highly Commended: Laiq Ahmed, aged 15

Tall Tales, Short Stories celebrates 20 years of the V.S. Pritchett Prize, the great range of the short story form, and what is possible when we use other writers as inspiration. Our anthology contains the first 500 words of winning entries to the Prize and of stories from judges over the past 20 years. Our Tall Tales, Short Stories competition asked those aged 14-18 to finish one of the stories with a new ending of their own.

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