Are You Enjoying?: Stories

Are You Enjoying?: Stories

by Mira Sethi


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An exhilarating debut by a young writer from Pakistan: provocative, funny, disarmingly original stories that upend traditional notions of identity and family, and peer into the vulnerable workings of the human heart.

From the high-stakes worlds of television and politics to the intimate corridors of the home—including the bedroom—these wryly observed, deeply revealing stories look at life in Pakistan with humor, compassion, psychological acuity, and emotional immediacy. Childhood best friends agree to marry in order to keep their sexuality a secret. A young woman with an anxiety disorder discovers the numbing pleasures of an illicit love affair. A radicalized student's preparations for his sister's wedding involve beating up the groom. An actress is forced to grow up fast on the set of her first major TV show, where the real intrigue takes place off-screen. Every story bears witness to the all-too-universal desire to be loved, and what happens when this longing gets pushed to its limits. Are You Enjoying? is a free-spirited, confident, indelible introduction to a galvanizing new talent.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524732875
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/20/2021
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 572,311
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

MIRA SETHI is an actor and a writer. She grew up in Lahore and attended Wellesley College, after which Sethi worked as a books editor at The Wall Street Journal. She has written op-ed pieces for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. Sethi regularly appears in mainstream Pakistani drama series on television. She lives in Lahore, Karachi, and San Francisco.

Read an Excerpt

Breezy Blessings
How many girls from good families have gone into this line of work? I’m not the type of mother who says, ‘Sit at home.’ But do something decent I say. Now look at your sister.”
“I’ll marry whomever you want me to marry,” Mehak said.
“All day I’ll be left alone with this useless man,” her mother said, unafraid of her wounding candor about her own husband, who sat at the edge of the sofa stirring sugar into his tea. Mehak’s father did not look up.
Afterward, he went to Mehak’s room and took her hand in his own. Mehak looked at his hand, strewn with black wisps of sideswept hair. He smiled, and told her not to worry: it was her first lead role, and there was no doubt in his mind she should take it. One day, when she won Best Actress at the Jeet TV Awards, he would give the speech.
“I love you, Abbu jaan,” she told him.
She returned the director’s call as her father looked on.
“It sounds perfect, sir,” she said on the phone. “I’m over the moon. I’ve been a fan of yours for sooooo long.” She tapped the speakerphone button.
“So sweet of you. And feeling is totally mutual. I wanted someone sweet, even little bit shy. The story is little violent. Nothing serious. Just a few slaps.”
Mehak said it would be her honor. She looked at her father and shrugged.
Two weeks later, in a large apartment complex by the name of Breezy Blessings, Roshan tipped a tray before Mehak. “VIP chai for you, moonface.” He lifted his shoulder in a shy heave and laughed, his own words a thrill, a tickle.
Roshan’s fitted T-shirt and denim bell-bottoms made him look like an overgrown boy, which Mehak supposed he was, considering he was twenty-one. His eyelashes dipped and curled and seemed to smash up against the glass of his purple spectacles.
The anticipation of Roshan’s teasing grin, the taste of Lipton Yellow Label whipped with powdered milk, had become the high point of Mehak’s day: a gracious ceremony between two people who’d met just a few days before. Unlike the rest of the crew, who treated Mehak as if she were a gnat in a well-oiled machine, Roshan had conferred an aap upon her the moment they’d been introduced. This gesture of respect, as gentle as it was solemn, had touched Mehak more than she could say. She was, after all, a year older.
The same evening, as Mehak stepped into the ironing room to retrieve her clothes, she pulled herself back: Roshan was leaning into a boy. His lips grazed the boy’s ear and his chin hovered, as if depositing a secret—or a kiss.
Mehak hadn’t imagined Roshan’s life beyond the churn of duty: running in and out of rooms replenishing cups of chai, bottled water, reused makeup sponges glistening with soap.
Mehak swiveled around and, in her nervousness, shut the door behind her with utmost respect.
Roshan yanked open the door and stepped outside.
Mehak looked him in the eye. “I didn’t see a thing.”
The stranger bolted.
Roshan opened his mouth, his eyelashes rippling in panic.
Mehak said: “Won’t say a thing. Didn’t see a thing.”
“If you didn’t see a thing, why are you telling me you didn’t see a thing? I know the type of girl you are. I know you’re seeing everything.”
“My heart beats fifty-two times a minute. Every time with the permission of Allah.”
She blinked, hoping to invite a revelation of some sort.
“When a baby is thrown into the crib for the first time, the direction in which his feet fall tells the mother the direction her son will walk for the rest of his life: left or right.” A vein rose on Roshan’s forehead. “My feet fell to the left. So now you’re going to judge me?” He glared at her. “My mother is my life. Everyone else I don’t care about.”
“Please understand—”
“Last night a stranger messaged me saying my family doesn’t love me because it’s haram to love me. I got so upset I uploaded a photo of myself without a shirt. Lots of ‘likes’ came. Then I
was relax.”
“I promise I won’t say anything,” said Mehak. “That was the point I was trying to make. I don’t care what you do in your private life.”
He looked at her suspiciously. “Promise to Allah?”
“Promise. To Allah.”

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