‘Phobia’: Sehri Tales selections, Day 7

The top selections in poetry, flash fiction and artwork for Day 7 of the Sehri Tales challenge; prompt: Phobia
Artwork: Kashfia Kamal Metheela


The clip today is 17 minutes long, long enough for me to reheat my leftovers and park myself in front of the 11 inch display. In today's episode Darcey is standing on one side of a towering pile of boxes, hands on hips, head flung back. The camera zooms in closer to her face, the blond extensions in her hair visible against the Miami sunlight. Her chest strains against the black spandex of her tank top as she flushes a red that is visible through the ocher of her spray tan.

I want to fire off a DM to my friend to ask her if she's watched this episode yet. I want to fire off a Darcey meme and laugh and point out that Darcey has been down this road five times too many. "Remember when she was on the show with Jesse?" I want to say. "Or Tom? Or Georgi? Or the boat guy?"

In the backdrop, Darcey's tearstained face fills up the bottom third of my screen. The faux lashes coming undone, the too-plump lips, the extensions poorly concealed by her thinning blond hair. She stands surrounded by her unpacked boxes in her Miami apartment and cries to her sister about her loneliness. And I scroll through Instagram to find the screenshot that captures this moment, so that my friend and I can rehash this desperation later.

Google says the fear of love is philophobia. But I wouldn't know.


by Shehtaz Huq



Wings were bad, especially when attached at the joint. The head was small and often slipped in with the more polite appendages at the bottom of the bowl, only to be found by my brother's eerily accurate ladle. Stomach and liver slices–the fan-favourite that waiters peddle on winter mornings in Old Dhaka–held no place of honour on our table because the mere sight of them instigated instant uproar. One could attempt to glamourise the corpse, frying with spices known and unknown until Colonel Sanders himself rose up from the dead to congratulate the chef but there was no glossing over the contents of the curry bowl–much like the human soul. 

The one that truly vexed my poor brother was the dreaded neck. No matter how short, it left no doubt to source code and the manner in which life had been wrangled, ever so swiftly, from a non-cooperative host with talons that could rake flesh from bone–that had raked mind from body, not so long ago.

It is 2023. I adjust the parsley on the zero-waste, zero-carb fusion remake of yet another ethnic dish that is decidedly uninspired. Ambient music wafts in from the diner through the swinging kitchen doors as sharply dressed servers go out with the main course. Knives grind against plates like so many teeth in a head full of woes. 

The music cuts off.

A sharp gasp.

A pregnant pause.

And then pure unadulterated chaos.

by Mastura Tasnim


They say it's a spider
Maybe the water
Or the height
And my fight
To run away from the sun
Oh! The germs might not be fun
But I share a phobia now
That more than half of you know
Because it's new in the sharing
And it's all related to caring
But it's actually just a word
Or more of it to get it worked
It's not tearing the others
At every letter your heart races
Because the action running by the other faces
To find all your traces 
When all them paces
And the world around you disappearing
With you in a room of no viewing
Be ashamed of a release
I am so foolish 
To wash my face so sweaty
My phobia is so heavy

by Towheed Hussain Chowdhury