Farhana Shaikh

Farhana Shaikh




Farhana Shaikh is a writer, publisher and journalist born in Leicester. She did a BA in Publishing with English at Loughborough University and later founded The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature. She established an independent press called Dahlia Publishing, which aims to nurture regional and diverse writing talent. She has facilitated creative writing workshops and judged competitions in the UK and India.

In 2010, Farhana won an Arts bursary from the Royal Shakespeare Company. The bursary gave her the opportunity to write about theatre and she now reviews productions for The Public Reviews. She writes feature articles, poetry, short stories and scripts.

Farhana lives in Leicester with her husband and their two children. She is a social media enthusiast and tweets about books and food.


Creative Work

From ‘Coming Home’

I have travelled down this twisted, broken path before. I left here a child, aged five years. I return married with two children.

I remember this house. The warm, soft air. Those happy days running barefoot through the streets to the falooda shop. The place hasn’t changed much. Even the people are just as they always were; wrinkled, but speaking with the same voices. I’ve heard these voices in my dreams, like long lost friends. I’ve listened to them these past twenty years. They’ve offered me hope, whispered advice through the tough times, congratulated me when things go well.

My cousins have grown taller. Their children spend their days playing with mine. I spend my days watching them, amazed. Even language doesn’t dampen their friendship. They get by with hello and love you, thank you. The camera clicks and they all say cheese, revealing wide smiles, creating new beginnings of their own.

I don’t have photos of me at that age. My father burnt them all. But now and then this place sends me snapshots from my childhood: my third birthday party at the small dhosa place opposite the masjid. The only place that served chocolate ice cream. A memory of me sitting in father’s lap in his favourite chair. Aunts and uncles feeding me with chocolate barfi one after the other when my mother wasn’t looking. Happy days at home. Father was so different then. And mother.

As hard as I try, I can’t remember her. I want to, but I can’t. She died when I was five. I’ve never seen a picture of her, or of my parents together. All I know of her is what I’ve been told. Nowadays she’s just a character in one of my stories. Tall and beautiful with long brown hair, hazel eyes. She is poised, like a 1940’s Hollywood star. I'm nothing like her. I’m not glamorous enough. People persist in saying that I look just like her, but I don’t believe them. They only tell me that because they’re kind. And besides, my father has never said so.

My father moved on three months after she died. He left his life here and started afresh. I joined the ride with his new wife. Things were never the same in that new place. Part of me stayed here with my mother. I missed her. I missed my home. I cried every day for months. I begged my father to let me go back. He didn’t ever say yes. After a while I pressed my memories for safekeeping, like daisies. I stopped thinking of India. I stopped thinking of my mother. I left everything behind. I betrayed the people and their love. I forgot the stories: I forgot it all. I never once spoke to them on the phone or opened their letters. I made England my home.



This is an extract from a short story 'Coming Home', which I wrote for The Asian Writer celebration collection. It celebrates the love we have for a something we call home and yet which we can't always place. This piece focuses on the loss of the protagonist’s mother and its aftermath. It emphasises the human need for a sense of belonging and how dependent is that sense on a particular locale. The protagonist's home has always been India, and her sense of confusion is inevitable given that she is removed from her birth country at such a young age. I wanted to convey the idea that we place our identity in separate pigeonholes. When we travel to new places, we just act in the manner we are expected to. It is only at home that we truly feel comfortable with who we are.



Coming Home, Happy Birthday to Me: A Collection of Contemporary Asian Writing, Dahlia Publishing, 2010
Love’s Embrace, Sama Ghazal Salaam UK, Shutter Books, 2009

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