First Language(s): Urdu
Second Language(s): English
Maliha Khan is a writer and academic from Karachi, Pakistan. She moved to India to pursue the Young India Fellowship at Ashoka University in 2016 and has been living in Delhi since. She writes about South Asian society and culture as well as food. She is currently working on her first book on the diverse food culture of Karachi.
What was your favorite book as a child?
As someone who had a difficult childhood, I was always trying to escape my reality through books, particularly books that transported me to another world altogether. I read many books that I got to take home for a week from my school’s library but I have a special place in my heart for the Harry Potter series. I read and reread them growing up and even remember being immersed in one of them the night before an exam, instead of studying. My favourite in the series was the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
Pakistan’s first daily national newspaper, Dawn, has a children’s magazine called Young World that comes out every Saturday. Growing up, I used to absolutely delight in reading it from cover to cover, especially the short stories that were published in it. That’s where I got my motivation to write stories from actually. I often dreamed of seeing my stories published in the magazine with my name printed below the title and began writing creatively to fulfil that dream. I still remember it was 8th October 2005 when my first story, “The Greatest Spellathon,” was published in Young World!
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
At the age of 22, I got an opportunity to go to India, across the border to pursue an amazing post-graduate program in liberal arts called Young India Fellowship. Given the tense relationship between India and Pakistan, it’s not so common for someone from Pakistan to go study in India or vice versa. Perhaps that’s why that has been the most adventurous and thrilling thing I’ve done in my life, crossing the border to experience life on the other side. Oh and I shaved my head a couple of years ago and that’s a close second!
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
I have never been that person who listens to music while reading or writing because I get so engrossed in the music which distracts me from what I am thinking about. I listen to music solely for the purpose of listening to it, however, now I do feel like experimenting with listening to instrumental music, particularly Indian classical instruments such as Sitar and Veena while writing.
The Guilt Gift
Issue Spring '22