Daniyal Mueenuddin’s debut collection of short stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, was the winner of the Story Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Best First Book, Europe and South Asia). It was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and for a number of other awards. Mueenuddin lives in Pakistan’s southern Punjab.
When I was a boy, in the late 1950s, Brigadier Shahnawaz and his English wife came to their farm at Jalpana once or maybe twice a year, disembarking at the Brigadier’s private train station, water dogs and pointers, hat boxes, mountains of bags, bedrolls, gun cases, leather-covered thermoses, wicker hampers, wooden crates of wine, cooks, the enormous valet, federal ministers, foreigners, industrialists, a party – the whole bundabast. Early in the morning a train that seemed to come huffing out of the imperial past – the Khyber Mail, the Quetta Express, the Frontier Mail – would make an unscheduled stop at the Brigadier’s station, located where the line touched the boundary of his estate. Along with the other officers belonging to the district administration, my father would receive the Brigadier at the station near the river, and once, when I was four or five, I was allowed to go with him. At that time the Brigadier’s lands along the Indus were still uncultivated, for a distance of three or four miles from the riverbank, still covered with receding stretches of golden reeds and elephant-sized clumps of saw grass, broken by open flats, white with salts or buff colored, little ponds here and there. A few years later I hunted nearby along the river for blackbuck and wild boar, for partridge, for duck in the spring and the fall, and for woodcock also, when they were flighting through.
—Story in Progress