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Father's Eyes

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Old 02-20-2018, 10:16 PM
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Default Father's Eyes

Jamal sits by the window with a mug of tea, watching the pigeons coming to roost on a silver wire stretched between his building and the neighbours’. There are thirteen; the wire sags under their weight in a metallic, birdstudded smile. He sips from his mug, taps a beat on the ceramic with his nail. Dusk is falling and the scrap of naked sky visible to him is bruised purple; sheaves of cloudlets that were milk-white late afternoon have turned salmon pink.

He rolls a joint, lights it up and inhales and his thoughts dissipate like a shoal then converge on the afternoon his father, sitting on his grandfather’s mahogany chair, expelled twin tusks of smoke from his nose.

“Can I?” Jamal had asked.

“Yes,” said Father, handing Jamal the cigarette. Jamal inhaled and coughed and Father had laughed, baring his long, protruding teeth. Father hadn’t laughed in a while.

“When you’re older,” said Father, a twinkle in his eye, “you will learn that some things take a while to be pleasurable.”

A few weeks earlier, Grandfather had died in Trivandrum, India. Jamal’s father had recounted the experience to the boy.

“They dragged your grandfather out of a cupboard in a metal drawer. Like he was some inanimate object. Like he had never been human.”

It was his father’s first experience of how the secular dealt with their dead. Here at home, the body is washed, dressed in gauze and laid on a raised platform for those who come to pay their respects. Then it’s placed in a coffin and taken to the mosque where a prayer is performed. Within minutes, the body will be in a grave.

“Even in death you’re treated with dignity,” Father had said.

Two days ago, Jamal was by his father’s bed at the hospital.

“I’m dying,” he’d said. “I want you to be good. A good Muslim. That is all.”

Jamal held his father’s hand. The flesh was soft, the skin like sheerest gauze, the bones slender and delicate, a sensitive hand.

There is a flutter as the birds take wing. The wire snaps back to its position, rigid now, its former mirthfulness a ghost, like a final breath consumed by the mortal realm. The stars have come out, they twinkle in the deepening dusk, reminding Jamal of his father’s eyes.

when in doubt, whisper non sequiturs.
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:00 AM
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The writing is pretty good here.

However, I have reservations about the structure. Did I see a flashback and then another flashback in that flashback?

I found it hard to keep up.

Also, I felt no emotion. I wasn't attached to Jamal in anyway. And that may be partially due to the structure. I had little chance to get to know him and step into his shoes.

I would have wrote this all in the present, perhaps revealing the back story in dialogue instead of flashbacks. Then focus on encouraging the reader to connect with the character.
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:38 AM
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The structure of this piece is fine in my opinion, because it his headlined when each moment happens. You can rearrange if you want, but I think the way you intended it is fine.
The prose reminds me somewhat of Khaled Hosseini. Well done.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:23 PM
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It's a little gem. The descriptions are wonderfully evocative.
"birdstudded smile" is particularly good.
I especially like the birds on the wire bracketing the memory.
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:42 AM
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Some effective imagery, and overall, beautifully understated.
There is nothing more overwhelming than this attraction of the abyss - Jules Verne
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Old 02-24-2018, 05:10 PM
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Ground the POV, make sure all time frames are clear.

Good shit here. Read it without knowing what is happening and line edit.
Writing is an inside joke.
Its publication, an opportunity to let others in.
The same can be said of all art
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:46 PM
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Perhaps Jamal would worry, by his father's deathbed, as to whether he can carry out his father's wishes in a secular society, whether regarding the funeral or regarding living a good life after that. That said, perhaps people today would be more sensitive to another faith that people in the past, even the recent past. If you want to develop character and emotion more, that would be an interesting route to go down.
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