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Friday, September 30, 2016

Mhad Ahmed Fayyaz (from class O' Levels-I) rocks here with a wonderful response to a question given in this month’s Monthly My Performance Test. The question was: ‘Write about an occasion when you felt depressed’, and see he’s done justice with the topic by coming up with brilliant description of a situation he visualized. Well done, Mhad!


My heart skipped a beat as I noticed a furious-looking man staring at me. A primitive weapon was tightly held in his right hand – a rough hand with lumpy, ugly fingers. His extra-large, black eyes had sparks of obvious detest for my poor soul. Such was the awe and the horror that for those few moments I felt I was a helpless man driven far away from a shore where – at an unmanageable distance – he had quit struggling with all his energy exhausted. I felt as if I was drowning, getting closer to my end. The ominous silence was broken as the man, with a quick jerk, rushed at me, muttering cries of revenge. I had made a terrible mistake!

On that fateful day, apparently I saw no signs of any would-be untoward. It looked all safe and sound. The weather was pleasant as usual. The sky was an expanse of sapphire blue, dotted with feathery white clouds. Radiant rays of the sun shone brightly across the azure, wide canopy. But then a time came when sweat trickled down my brow, as I lifted my head high in a hope to see over the commotion and on to the source of the problem causing the traffic jam. I was in a hurry, but had unluckily got stuck on a main road in northern part of the city.

In utter despair, I decided to get out of my car and walk over to the source of turmoil, which would eventually prove to be a drastic mistake.

I adjusted my newly tailored bespoke suit as I dismounted from my Crystal Black Pearl Vezel. As I got nearer, I saw banners claiming western culture as the sole cause of all problems in Pakistan. As I headed on, a full scale sight of an angry crowd came in view. It was a protest.

That is when I saw a man dressed in tribal attire, staring at me with a devilish grin. As I stared back at him, he grew enraged. Next, to my utter shock, pointing his pitchfork to my chest, he hurled abuse at me. And the very next moment, he leapt at me. Flabbergasted, I rushed back.

He was soon chasing me with his obnoxiously heavy body. And that was the moment for my well-shaped and smart body to exhibit its athletic skills. I was soon at a safe distance. As I turned back, to my surprise, I saw a police man on top of him. I had been saved, though I felt extremely depressed.

I continued feeling depressed for another three long days. Later, I read a police report. I could not fathom the thought that that errant man had pounced on me for the mere reason of my appearance in western getup. It all sounded weirdest of the things I had ever encountered.

Mahd Ahmed Fayyaz
O' Levels-I
PakTurk School, Islamabad

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Expressing thoughts and feelings in versified form is one of the most difficult jobs in the world of creative writing. Poets compose their feelings and thoughts to entertain, persuade, inform, or to influence their readers with certain cause in mind. Writing an effective poem, that too which feels unique and true to yourself, asks for a bit of mastery in playing with sound, rhythm, and tone in the poem and apply literary devices to make your poetry truly sound to be a piece of literature. Let’s enjoy an award-winning piece of poetry by Hassan Bukhari, a PakTurk alumni, a brilliant student. He composed this poem for an inter-colleges competition arranged by Shifa Students Society (Islamabad). Hassan was awarded 2nd prize. Heartiest congrats Hassan, and thanks for sharing! Continue making us feel proud of you non-stop by making difference with the might of your pen, and by exhibiting strongest of the characters. Go on contributing in the world most positively. We wish you hundreds of more accomplishments. :)


Future Awaits: What’s next?

Fragile, weak and replete with hunger,
Wrinkles on young faces, dismal their smiles,
Sticks for arms, wretched their cries,
Their roof, the sky, glaring with thunder,
“What have I done?” They say. “What is my blunder?”

I’m chased in streets, “Is beggar my name?”
“Pacifists, Criminals and Culprits!” they claim,
And People believe, give poor the blame,
Who cares if they shatter?
They are not made to matter,
And the neglected only know better,
Than to keep hope, from the latter,

When asked what I see in the future ahead,
I pick up a pencil and draw a picture instead,
I have a Prediction, such is its depiction;
“It will not remain as same!
The misery, pain and the shame,
All shall dissolve in merciful rain,
Once it pours to reach every grain,
The light combined will bring the green,
A scene, never before seen!
And justice will prevail to those who shatter,
For in God’s Store, there’s nothing better”

Sunday, September 25, 2016

An opening paragraph was handed to the boys of O’ Levels Final Year (here at Chak Shahzad Campus of PakTurk) as a prompt for story writing. Written in 523 words it’s one of the stories produced responding to the prompt (a Cambridge style question for which could be): ‘Write a story which includes the sentence: ‘He was determined to give his life-time benefactor an ‘easy’ death – as a token of his gratitude.’ Mubeen Ahmed Fayyaz came up with one of the most remarkable responses. Following the requirement, having opened his story with mid-action scene, Mubeen successfully applied flashback technique in which part he exhibited his mastery by wrapping up the entire situation in just 270 words, leaving no logical gap there. In the remaining 183 words, he then satiated the reader's curiosity by effectively showing ‘what happened next’. Look, the story also has a small surprise/shock in the end when Mubashir, instead of becoming an easy victim, reacts to what Thakur is going to do with him. A big kudos for Mubeen for contributing such a story with high appeal. Very engaging stuff, indeed!

An abandoned house
Thakur pulled his car out of the porcelain porch and quickly headed for the airport where he was to receive someone he called his mentor, lifetime benefactor and someone he truly adored. At hearts of his heart, he was determined to taking Mubashir to an abandoned house in the northern outskirts of the city to give him an “easy” death as a token of his gratitude.

Mubashir felt utter sympathy and droplets of sweat caressed his brow as he knelt down on hard concrete to pick up a lump: a young boy. He took the boy to a nearby hospital where he paid for the expenses and when he could find no guardian for the boy, he decided to adopt him.

The young boy grew up in an unfamiliarly posh environment but soon got the hang of it. His days were spent in getting quality education, developing a good taste in music and art and studying Henry David Thoreau’s “resistance to civil government” and similar books.

He grew up to be a teenager not willing to resign his conscience to the legislator. He believed and obeyed laws that were in line with his moral conscience and strived hard to denounce any that contradicted it. He had grown up to believe in utter freedom of mankind and absence of governing bodies as the only solution to mankind’s problems.
Mubashir had succeeded in creating a Mr-No-Government who had potential to be a part of a movement aimed at resistance towards civil government and so the boy became a part of the evil movement.

The boy who was now a man strived hard day and night to make the movement stronger but after the conservative party came to power and decided to take radical measures against the movement, everything changed.

He was caught, tried, imprisoned and tortured atrociously. He ratted out every bit of info on whoever he knew in the movement – in exchange for his freedom, something he had come to admire since his childhood – except that he succeeded in keeping Mubashir.

Today that boy, Thakur, was standing on the threshold of a colossal airport waiting for Mubashir. His eyes drifted upwards to the infinite blue sky dotted with gray clouds. When he looked back down, he was awestruck as he laid eyes on a pale figure with creased forehead and narrow lips smiling pleasantly at him. It was Mubashir.

He managed to take Mubashir to an abandoned house, his conscience failing him but he was not to deter from a decision he had taken with deliberation and lack of emotions – a decision for the better. He pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Mubashir as memories of torture filled his mind. He decided to squeeze the trigger not wanting Mubashir to face such horrendous torture who unlike him would not be able to strike a deal for freedom but before he could, Mubashir ran! Mubashir bolted on the rocky mountainous terrain. Thakur jerked his rifle on his shoulder. His shooting skills overcame Mubashir’s escaping skills as Thakur drove three bullets through Mubashir who soon lay still. Thakur then lived happy for Mubashir ceaselessly.

Mubeen Ahmed Fayyaz
O' Levels Final Year
PakTurk School, Islamabad



Monday, April 6, 2015

Rewriting on a story by Malaika, O' Level Final Year Student at PakTurk International School Islamabad Campus H-8 Sector



It was an unforgettable occasion

It was the afternoon of Saturday. The blazing sun was sending it to raise onto my bed while I read a book on my desk. My father hurriedly came to my room and said to me "Malaika! Guess what?" I was in the shock since I've never seen him so excited and thrilled. He continued " we are going to go on the trip to Greece.  It's all settled.  Your mom just got a call from her office..." My mother was a journalist which meant that she had to go to different places in order for her work but I never expected this I was amazed. It was almost too good to be true. Just after hearing my father's first intense I had got goosebumps as I imagined the beautiful and refreshing streets, ancient structures of Greek buildings, sound of rushing water in the streams of Greece. The scenic beauty of Greece with it's magnificent gardens and mountain tops and what not. My dad shook me hard to to bring myself back to the reality. I got up and started to pack my bags for the flight of the next morning.
It was Saturday afternoon. The blazing sun’s rays rested on my bed while I read a book at my desk. My father hurriedly came to my room and said to me, "Malaika! Guess what?" I was in shock, since I'd never seen him so excited and thrilled. He continued, "We are going to go on a trip to Greece. It's all settled. Your mom just got a call from her office..."
My mother was a journalist, which meant that she had to go to different places as part of her work, but I never expected this. I was amazed—it was almost too good to be true. Just after hearing my father's first intense words, I got goosebumps as I imagined the beautiful and refreshing streets, the ancient structures of Greek buildings, the sound of rushing water in the streams, the scenic beauty of Greece with its magnificent gardens and mountain tops.
My dad shook me hard to bring me back to reality. I got up and started packing my bags for the flight next morning.
The entire day, I and my little brother excitedly run around in the house. The fact that this trip was for free and my parents always wanted to go to Greece with us just made me joyous with excitement.  At night before going to bed,  I set my alarm clock to three hours before the actual waking up time. No usually people won't be able to sleep before this kind of an event i'm the case with me was no different. Laying in my bed the entire night when I thought about this trip, The glistening rays of light  showering through my window and wouldn't let me sleep. I kept thinking that perhaps I was the luckiest girl in the world right now. I and my family were about to go on a trip of a lifetime. This was going to be a memorable time for letting me and my family enjoy such an amazing time in a wondrous place like Greece. With its ancient history and people.  Little did I know that sometimes you truly are the luckiest person in the world, just in a different way.
The entire day, my little brother and I excitedly ran around the house. The fact that this trip was free and my parents had always wanted to go to Greece with us just made me even more excited. At night, before going to bed, I set my alarm clock to three hours before the actual time when I had to get up.
Usually people wouldn’t be able to sleep before this kind of an event, and the case with me was no different. Lying in my bed the entire night, I thought about this trip. I kept thinking that perhaps I was the luckiest girl in the world right now. I accompanied by my family were about to go on the trip of a lifetime. Oh, what a wondrous place to go to, Greece, with its ancient history and people. Little did I know, sometimes you truly are the luckiest person in the world, just in a different way than you expect.
In the morning, I and my family got ready and had hot and delicious fried eggs and pancakes with maple syrup.  Normally my mother would not make such a huge effort in making us such a tasty breakfast,  but today was sure different. My eyes were tired due to not sleeping at all last night but that was the least of my worries right then. We got ready and locked the house. checking everything before leaving for the airport. On the way to the airport, all of us were so happy and thankful for this opportunity. We go to the airport and saw how crowded it was. It was mostly just the families which were picking or dropping off their guests. Due to traffic on the way to the airport we were a bit late, but now we were going to be extremely late because when my father asked me for the passports, it turned out that my brother's was missing. We were going to our security check when my father got angry, I knew it had slipped into the car. We went back and nervously checked the car but couldn't find the passport. The passport would have to be at home. My father got furious and turned red because everything was going perfect until now. Unfortunately we couldn't get on the flight my parents knew that there was no point arguing. The flight had left. We got home upset and disappointed and my father wasn't in a jolly mood like in the morning.  To distract his mind he turned on the TV and my mother started to cook something for us to eat.  And then the headlines came on the news " Flight A 107 had unfortunately crashed in the ocean due to engine block........" my parents gave each other a shocked look. That was supposed to be our flight. We could not believe our eyes. My father left out a heavy sigh of relief and pity. It was  an unforgettable occassion.
In the morning, my family and I got ready and had hot, delicious fried eggs and pancakes with maple syrup. Normally my mother would not make such an effort to give us a tasty breakfast, but today was different. My eyes from lack of sleep, but that didn’t concern me at all.
We got ready and locked the house, checking everything before leaving for the airport. On the way to the airport, all of us were all talking excitedly, so happy and thankful for this opportunity. Finally, we got to the airport and saw how crowded it was. Most of this was from families picking up or dropping off their guests.
Due to traffic on the way to the airport we were a bit late, so we hurried to get our baggage checked. We got through, then arrived at the security check, when my father asked us to take out our passports. That was when we discovered that my brother's was missing. My father got so angry then, and it seemed all the excitement we’d shared in the car was gone.
We went back and nervously checked the car but couldn't find the passport. That meant it would have to be at home. My father got furious and turned red, shouting that everything had been perfect until now. Worse, there was no time to go home, since the flight was leaving so soon. The plane left without us.
We got home upset and disappointed and my father was in a terrible mood.  To distract himself, he turned on the TV and my mother started to cook something for us to eat. Then the headlines came on the news: "Flight A-107 has crashed in the ocean due to engine blockage. At this time, all passengers on board are feared dead."

My parents gave each other a shocked look. That was supposed to be our flight! We could not believe our eyes. My father left out a heavy sigh of relief and sadness for those on board. It was an unforgettable occasion.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In-depth analysis of a story by Ali Hashim, AS Level Student at ROOTS School System(Ex-Student PakTurk International School)

“Being a seasoned doctor it took me no more than a few seconds to perceive what might have caused Angeline’s death.”
The body was brought in by my assistant and laid in the dark room. As soon as I was free, I had a look at the body. It was a young woman of around twenty-five, five feet six inches tall with blond hair. Her ID card showed that her name was Angeline McGregor.
Being a seasoned doctor it took me no more than a few seconds to perceive what might have caused Angeline’s death. She had been poisoned. The autopsy that I performed the same evening showed that the poison used was arsenic.[A1] 
The police had stopped the investigation, considering the death to be natural, but my report suggested the otherwise and when I gave it to the chief inspector, the case was reopened with renewed keenness.[A2] 
I, also being [A3] a detective, as well as the forensic expert of the police department, was allowed to look into the matter. I knew that only a couple of chemists in the city sold arsenic, so I asked my assistant to make and bring me a list of people who had purchased arsenic in the last few days.
A single look at the list gave me the lead I was looking for. It contained the name of the husband of the deceased, Anthony McGregor[A4] . But I needed more proof than a mere receipt before I could lay my hands on him. Nevertheless, I asked him to come to the police station and interrogated him.
He told me a story that, if true, meant that he was totally clean. [A5] The way he spoke with a great conviction in his tone made me doubt my instincts. I took his photographs and showed them to the chemist who had sold arsenic to Anthony, but to my utter surprise, the chemist told me that this person had never been to his shop
COMMENT
 [A1]Very good and plausible opening. Sets the scene and situation strongly. I am intrigued so far!
 [A2]This is implied just by the fact that the police have reopened the case.
[A3]It is implausible for someone to be a seasoned doctor AND a detective – both require lots of specialization.
[A4]To avoid later confusion, introduce him here.
[A5]What was the story? It would help the reader here to at least get a summary of it, otherwise we feel like the narrator is holding back information
I asked the police department’s best artist to come and make a sketch according to the chemist’s description. The sketch showed a young muscular man with a look of pure venom and hatred on his face. I put the sketch into the department’s computer and was soon granted a satisfactory result. The young man was Sal Malcini, a person who had a record of dealing in poisons and even using them.
I asked the sheriff to get him arrested as he was our man. I was startled upon interrogating him. I never knew a new surprise awaited me. He had been paid for the job. This was the only information that we could extract from him for a long time. But after we used the third degree interrogation on him, he soon gave away. He told us that it was Angeline’s ex-boyfriend, Mathew Lestrage, who had paid him.
Confronting Mathew proved to be a much more troublesome job than the others, as he tried to run away. But due to his lack of knowledge of the area, he ran straight into me. Mathew told us that he loved Angeline very much but she had betrayed him, and had married “that American guy”. Naturally, this infuriated him. He said he was extremely depressed, to the extent that it led him to taking revenge upon her. He’d planned to kill her, and succeeded in that soon after.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[A1] 
 COMMENT
[A1]STRENGTHS: This story does a great job following detective style crime fiction. The ending is satisfactory because the point of these stories is to catch the person and uncover what happened in a mysterious crime.
WEAKNESSES: Often times the narrator withholds information from us. During the interrogations I hear summaries of what he’s doing and that he’s gotten information, but not what information he’s attained. It’s important for us to see what the narrator is seeing, and where you are showing only what’s necessary, provide a brief summary.
SUGGESTIONS: Another big issue is the implausibility of this man being both a doctor and detective. Both require lots of specialization. How can you work as both when the demands of both jobs require you to be exclusively available? Often times in writing fiction we will do things like this to help us create various elements of the plot, so it’s important to be aware of it, to step back and ask these questions. In this case, you might want to consider retelling this story by having the narrator work alongside a team of detectives, or be part of the investigation because it was his friends in a former line of work.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rewriting on a story by Chaudhry Abdullah Amir (PakTurk School) who attempted at describing human feeling over a sad demise of a loved one. Well done, Chaudhry!


I was too fragile to say anything...

It was a warm night of July. I was sleeping in my room when suddenly I heard my mother shouting, “wake up son), she said. I didn’t give response to her, then she cried loudly . “She’s dead” she said hysterically. “Who’s dead” , I said tiredly. “Parveen” she cried . I was stunned , I woke up and sat on my bed putting my head in my knees, everything stopped for an instant. The fan in my room and the noise of the hens outside the room. I felt that the roof will fall on me. My head was too heavy like someone has put a lot of weight on it. I couldn’t breath and then something from inside of my body came out through my mouth and I shouted with the full power that I had “No”, I cried. “She can’t be, she promised me to meet me today.” She can’t be dead.
One warm night in July, I was sleeping in my room when suddenly I heard my mother shouting.
“Wake up, son!” she said. I didn't respond until she cried hysterically, “She’s dead!”
“Who’s dead?” I asked, still tired.
“Parveen.”
Stunned, I sat up in bed and put my head between my knees. Everything stopped for an instant. The fan whirred in my room and hens clucked outside. I felt like the roof should fall on me. My head was too heavy, as if someone had put a lot of weight in it. I couldn't breathe, and then something tore from inside my body to come out of my mouth as a shout with all the power I had. “No!” I cried. “She can’t be, she promised to meet me today.” She couldn't be dead.
I jumped from my bed and ran to the street . Her house was in the next street. I was running bare – footed wiping the tears off my face . I couldn’t feel the rocks on the road and finally I reached her home and saw a group of people in the garden. There were children and old men, some of them sitting on chairs, and some of them standing and gossiping about Parveen. I heard crying women inside. I ran to the main door and entered the house. I saw her lying on the floor in white dress. Beside here was her mother peeno and her elder sister Shaista.
I jumped from my bed and ran into the road. Her house was the next street over. I was running on bare feet, wiping the tears from my face. I couldn't feel the rocks of the road. Finally I reached her home and saw a group of people in the garden. There were children and old men, some of them sitting in chairs, some of them standing and gossiping, saying Parveen’s name. I heard crying women inside, so I ran to the main door and entered the house.
I saw her lying on the floor in a white dress. Beside her was her mother, Peeno, and her elder sister, Shaista.
I sat there near the door, watching her lying on the floor. I couldn’t feel anything. I was just having her memories that she was the most intelligent student in our class. We share our lunch and give examples to others that sharing is caring. She played Baseball and every single person wanted to have autograph of this girl. I was lost in nostalgia when someone touched me on shoulder. She was soothing mother who took my hand in hers and said slowly “Don’t cry son , all of us have to die one day”.
I sat there at the door, looking at her where she lay on the floor. I couldn't feel anything. I could just remember: She was the most intelligent student in our class. We shared our lunches, giving an example of the others that sharing is caring. She played baseball, and every single person wanted to have her autograph.
I was lost in memories when someone touched my shoulder. She was a soothing mother, who took my hand in hers and said slowly, “Don’t cry, son, all of us have to die one day.”
I was fragile and couldn’t say anything. My feet were bleeding because of running as much fast I can, but I was shocked by my best friend’s death and I almost didn’t feel the pain. The only person, who really understood me, was no more. My mother took me home but now I wasn’t me, the Abdullah of my family. The people in the street called me insane ….
I was too fragile to say anything. My feet were bleeding from the run over here, but I was so shocked by my best friend’s death that I couldn’t feel the pain. The only person who really understood me was no more.
My mother took me home, but I wasn't myself any longer. I was not the person my family knew as Abdullah. The people in the street called me insane…

Contributed by: Chaudhry Abdullah AmirO' Levels Final YearPakTurk International School, Islamabad



Rewriting on another story, paragraph by paragraph. As expressed before, some of my students happen to be at the stage where writing correct English is the main concern, let alone other important features of writing. Again, although I will not obsess with perfecting story hooks, a story needs to end. If it doesn't, then it is not complete. Something like this, for example, provides an ending. It’s my cute improvisation, one of many possibilities. (The writer's (student's) name is being held).


A Wintry Day

I woke up on a Sunday morning, from the deep warm sleep, as Hasan yelled cheerfully. He rushed straight to my bed and removed the most comfortable object of my winter life; my sheets and the quilt. That made me furious but I found myself guilty later when I was told by the little creature that we had a plan and today was fixed for that plan.

I woke up on a Sunday morning from a deep, warm sleep to the sound of my brother Hasan yelling cheerfully. He rushed straight to my bed and removed my sheet and quilt—the most comfortable objects of my winter life. That made me furious but I felt guilty later when I was told by the little boy that we had a plan and today and remembered my promise to him the night before.

Holding my yawn, I straightened to the bathroom door. Water could not flow through the top-hole. It had frozen maybe. Switching on the geyser, I headed to the front door. Me myself standing in the middle of the porch, snowy flakes showered onto me. The patterned winds blew from each of the directions, sending chills down my spine.

Suppressing a yawn, I moved to the bathroom and tried to wash my sleep away. Only, I discovered that the water wasn’t flowing through the tap. Perhaps it had frozen? Switching on the shower and finding that it, too, was not flowing, I headed to the front door. Once I opened it and stepped out onto the middle of the porch, I found myself surrounded by snowy flakes, blown in all directions by the wind, sending chills down my spine.

As not to get too cold or simply the breakfast was ready, I got myself back into the house. Sitting besides the fire after a hot bath, it was so pleasant. We gathered our stockings and of course, snowman's stockings too. Locking the main door, I exclaimed to my family, "lets go".

I rushed back into the house. Hasan and I lit the fire and sat beside it. It warmed the house and soon I found I was able to have a hot bath. It was so pleasant. After we had eaten breakfast, we put on our warmest stockings, ones perfect for moving in the snow.

Opening the front door, I exclaimed to my family, "Let’s go!"

There we were, on a small hill near the town. From there we could see that as if the whole town had drowned into the sea of ice. Crunching the snow beneath our boots, we advanced to the place where it was a little denser.

Our house was situated on a small hill not far from the town. From here, it appeared that the whole town was submerged in a sea of ice. We all rushed out into the snow, to a place where it was denser. I just loved the sound of the fresh snowfall crunching beneath our boots.

People from all groups of ages and stages were there, gathered on that slightly steep slope. Children were busy making their snowmen but most of them, especially boys, were preoccupied with the skirmish of snowballs. They would scream if they were successful in shooting somebody. Ducking and swinging around, some were trying to save themselves from the storm of snowballs.

We weren’t alone. People of all groups and ages were out on the hill, gathered on the slightly steep slope. Children were busy making their snowmen but most of them, especially boys, were preoccupied with the skirmishes of snowball attacks. They would scream each time they were successful in shooting somebody. Ducking and swinging around, some were trying to save themselves from the storm of snowballs. Only a few succeeded.

Not all the people were in the snow however, some sat next to the fires they had built and some were in the cafes nearby, enjoying every sip of their hot coffee. To keep ourselves busy too, we joined the game of snowballs. Later we got retarded and found a flat place to sit upon and build a snowman. At last we had some hot coffee too. In the evening, when we reached home, surprised to find out that the main gate's lock was broken.

Not all the people were in the snow however. Some sat next to the fires they had built and some were in the cafes nearby, enjoying every sip of their hot coffee. To keep ourselves busy too, we joined the game of snowballs. Later we got tired and found a flat place to sit down and build a snowman. At last we had some hot coffee too.

It was a perfect day, and I was happy Hasan had pulled me out of my bed. The only trouble that day, though came when we returned home. The main gate's lock was broken. We were so worried that someone had robbed our house, except we found nothing wrong. There was only one thing, which Hasan found as soon as he rushed in to investigate.

“A snowman!” he exclaimed. And indeed, it was the best snowman I had ever seen—and the best surprise to end the day.