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When khudkushi became her only freedom

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‘Khudkushi,’ they murmured, afraid not to say it out too loud. A silence spread, full of fear and anticipation.

The sky was a pool of black ink, dusted with stars at midnight. Arsh looked out from the window — she saw many little streets sprawled out below. She had only known these streets from inside the walls of her room. She had never walked on them. She had never been under the open sky. She looked at these streets longingly. To her, these streets and everything else of the outside world was a distant dream.

Arsh was thinking about him. He came again tonight. Her caramel skin flushed bright pink as he folded her into his arms. Her heart fluttered as his fingertips grazed her bare skin. She had never felt so close to a man before. Over the years, many men held her, touched her, felt her — but he was different from all the others. She fell in love with him.

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She waited for him each night. She longed for him, as any lover would. On the nights he didn’t come, she was restless. She waited for him till she saw him next, till he told her how beautiful she was.

As she stood by the window and watched darkness engulf the sky, she decided she’d tell him what she felt for him. Maybe he’d take her away somewhere far. Maybe he’d relieve her of this life.

Overhead, a star blinked in the dark sky, as if telling her it was time.


The morning sun filled the brothel. It was bright inside. Arsh slipped into plain white clothes and went downstairs.

The morning is always bright. It’s the night that’s dark. It’s always the night that’s dark. 

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“Arsh!” Farnaz called, with a cigarette clenched in the corner of her mouth. “You look happy! I’ve never seen a bigger smile on your face.”

“I’m going away,” Arsh said in low voice, so that nobody else could hear.

Farnaz laughed. But then her eyes were suddenly wide with concern, and her skin shone pale under the gleam of sunlight.

“You know you can’t go away,” Farnaz said quietly.

Arsh smiled in reply and bustled away.

The rest of the day, she was tangled in her thoughts. She didn’t even know his name but she knew he was the one who’d save her. The world glittered with promise.


“Take me away!” Arsh whispered into his ear.

There was a steely glint in his eyes.

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“Please take me away!” Arsh’s voice crackled at the edges.

He slapped her so hard her teeth rattled.

“You’re a whore,” he spat.

Arsh swallowed everything else that she had to say. The words dried up in her throat.


It was near dawn but Arsh was wide awake. She looked into the mirror, her dark eyes sunken in an ashen face, stared back at her. Her lips were stained in a dark, blood-like red. Her hair, black and velvety like the sky at midnight, carelessly tumbled down her back. Her angarkha, heavily embroidered in gold and silver threads, danced around her when she moved. ‘A whore,’ she thought.

She felt sparks of resentment cascading in her as she looked at herself. She felt angry. But then her anger melted and she started crying. And as a tear caught in her lip, she realised her lipstick was smudged at the corners.

His words filled her head. They were sharp, piercing—they cut through her like knives. Even after he left, the word ‘whore’ twisted inside her. It crushed her. It tinted her entire existence. It was a small word but it encompassed a bitter world — a whore’s world.

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Arsh had endured years of abuse. There were different men in her bed each night. They treated her like an object. They used her and then discarded her. She was perceived as an unthinking, unfeeling being. Her existence only sparkled in the dark hours of the night. They forgot she was human too.

She looked at the faded sky from the window. She spread out her hand towards the sky, trying to reach for it. It was close but far away. Maybe just like the man who she thought would save her.


Khudkushi (suicide). The word echoed against the big, bare walls of the brothel. Its weight settled on all women who lived inside. It grew heavier and heavier, thicker and thicker, folding them in, needling them all over. It hung in the air, sharp and poisonous. ‘Khudkushi,’ they murmured in small voices, afraid not to say it out too loud. They didn’t want anyone else to hear. A silence spread in the brothel, full of fear and anticipation. It was suddenly dark inside, and empty despite the people. Outside, the day shifted from morning to night. And the air smelled of earth and ash and rain. And faintly of death.

Arsh took away her life. She cut her wrists and bled to death. For her, death wasn’t just an end—it held meaning. It meant freedom. It meant floating somewhere far, untethered. It meant relief from a corseted existence.

Khudkushi became Arsh’s freedom. She finally fled from a life she did not want to live.

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Microsoft admits Sony has has ‘better’ exclusive games

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Microsoft has recently admitted that its rival, Sony, has “better quality” games than Xbox in a filing with UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The assertion was made on October 31, but the document was recently made public, Eurogamer noted.

Microsoft elaborated its stance, saying that Sony was “the dominant console provider” and ” a powerful game publisher”. It explained that “Sony is roughly equivalent in size to Activision and nearly double the size of Microsoft’s game publishing business.”

Read: Global regulators to target crypto platforms after FTX crash

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Comparing data, Microsoft wrote in the filing that Sony had five times as many of their 280 exclusive first- and third-party titles, on PlayStation. Besides just owning franchises like God of War and Spider-Man, Sony has signed deals with third-party publishers for exclusive rights to games.

Microsoft also claimed that console exclusives accounted for a higher percentage of global game sales for Sony than their own company. The company detailed review scores for PlayStation and Xbox, saying “the average Metacritic score for Sony’s top 20 exclusive games in 2021 was 87/100, against 80/100 for Xbox”.

CMA is conducting an in-depth investigation into Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, which has raised concerns by Sony, particularly over the franchise Call of Duty, which could be made exclusive to Xbox only, if the deal goes through.

 





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Netflix is working on a ‘brand-new AAA PC game’

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Netflix is currently hiring game directors and engineers to work on a “brand-new AAA PC game” at its new Los Angeles games studio.

The project has yet to be announced by the streaming platform itself. However, as per a job listing spotted by Mobilegamer.biz, Netflix needs a game director who “will be the creative leader of one of Netflix’s first generation of internally developed original games”.

 Apart from multiple job listings, there are not many details available regarding the new project.

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Read Global regulators to target crypto platforms after FTX crash

The digital platform has previously launched some games, but they were specifically suited for mobile phones. While many users are unaware of the games on Netflix, the platform plans to venture into PC gaming and expand its audience.

 

 





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Global regulators to target crypto platforms after FTX crash

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LONDON:

The crash of FTX exchange has injected greater urgency into regulating the crypto sector and targeting such ‘conglomerate’ platforms will be the focus for 2023, the new chair of global securities watchdog IOSCO said in an interview.

Jean-Paul Servais said regulating crypto platforms could draw on principles from other sectors which handle conflicts of interest, such as at credit rating agencies and compilers of market benchmarks, without having to start from scratch.

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Cryptoassets like bitcoin have been around for years but regulators have resisted jumping in to write new rules.

But the implosion at FTX, which left an estimated one million creditors facing losses totalling billions of dollars, will help change that, Servais told Reuters.

“The sense of urgency was not the same even two or three years ago. There are some dissenting opinions about whether crypto is a real issue at the international level because some people think that it’s still not a material issue and risk,” Servais said.

“Things are changing and due to the interconnectivity between different types of businesses, I think it’s now important that we are able to start a discussion and that’s where we are going.”

IOSCO, which coordinates rules for G20 countries and others, has already set out principles for regulating stablecoins, but now the focus is turning to platforms which trade in them.

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In mainstream finance there is functional separation between activities like broking, trading, banking services and issuance, with each having its own set of conduct rules and safeguards.

“Is it the case for the crypto market? I would say most of the time not,” Servais said.

Crypto ‘conglomerates’ like FTX have emerged, performing perform multiple roles such as brokerage services, custody, proprietary trading, issuance of tokens all under a single roof that give rise to conflicts of interest, Servais said.

“For investor protection reasons, there is a need to provide additional clarity to these crypto markets markets through targeted guidance in applying IOSCO’s principles to crypto assets,” Servais said.

“We intend to publish consultations report on these matters in the first half of 2023,” he added.

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Madrid-based IOSCO, or International Organization of Securities Commissions, is an umbrella body for market watchdogs like the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States, Bafin in Germany, Japan’s Financial Services Agency, and the UK Financial Conduct Authority, who all commit to applying the body’s recommendations.

The European Union’s new markets in cryptoassets or MiCA framework is an “interesting starting point” for developing global guidance as it focuses on supervision of crypto operators, said Servais, who also chairs Belgium’s financial regulator FSMA.

“I think that the world is changing. We know there is some space for developing new standards about supervision of this kind of crypto conglomerates. There is an obvious necessity,” Servais said.





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