Glass Enclave
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Rae went to make tea. The cat left Sammar's lap and she began to look around at the rugs on the wall, the copper plant pots on the floor. There was a photograph of Rae's daughter on top of the shelf of books. She looked like she was around fourteen or fifteen and was riding a horse. She wore boots and a cap with straps along her chin. Sammar imagined the child's mother with that same long brown hair, courageous too, working for the W.H.O., an important job, doing good, helping people.

She thought as she drank her tea that she was in a real home. She had not been in a real home for a long time. She lived in a room with nothing on the wall, nothing personal, no photographs, no books; just like a hospital room. She had given everything away, that week before taking Tarig home. She had stripped everything and given it away never imagining she would come back, never imagining the quarrel with Mahasen. And when she did come back she had neither the heart nor the means to buy things. Pay the rent for the room and that was all. One plate, one spoon, a tin opener, two saucepans, a kettle, a mug. She didn't care, didn't mind. Four years ill in a hospital she had made for herself. Ill, diseased with passivity, time in which she sat doing nothing. The whirlpool of grief sucking time. Hours flitting away like minutes. Days in which the only thing she could rouse herself to do was pray the five prayers. They were the only challenge, the last touch with normality, without them she would have fallen, lost awareness of the shift of day into night.

She tasted the tea Rae had made for her and listened to the only two people she really knew in this city. Yasmin, her face a little pinched in the early weeks of pregnancy, dark shadows under sleepy eyes. But that was natural, she would be big and healthy in a few months' time, round in maternity clothes. And Rae -- it was strange to see people she only knew from work in their own homes. He didn't shave on week-ends.

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