She was found in a pool of dried blood

The light blue sky hung over Najeeba as she rushed on the wet, slippery streets of her city. The city was lit by neon lights emerging from clubs and bars around every other corner, and nightfall meant the noise of blaring car horns was so loud, she couldn’t even hear herself think.

Terror clouded her mind, her eyes darting from one corner to another, fearing the longing gazes of street hawkers and lazy drivers, each of them with a disgusting smile plastered onto his face. She knew she would have to bear her father’s anger once she got home. She hurried on, desperately wishing her father had not yet returned home, rubbing her hands under her rusty brown shawl.

Today had been a heavy day for her, perhaps the heaviest of all the days she had worked. Once she was around the corner of her house, she started counting her steps. As she neared her house, her gait quickened, her heart skipping every beat after another. As soon as she arrived at her house, she took off her shawl and hung it on a wooden peg in her room. Just a moment later, she heard her father’s order to cook dinner quickly. She headed into the kitchen, the small pot on the stove bubbling and brewing. The kitchen smelled of haleem, her father’s favourite dish.

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