Glass Enclave
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Others walked in the Winter Gardens now. Mid-morning and families were calling out to each other, strolling among the flowers and green plants. A boy ran past Sammar and Rae, holding a red packet of crisps, the arms of his jacket tied round his waist. Her son would be the same age now as this boy. No longer curved like a baby, no longer learning how to talk. A school-boy. Mahasen had written to her and said, schools here are not what they used to be, you must come and take him back, it would be better for him. Her aunt's letter arrived when the city was covered in fog (even the postman still made his rounds unperturbed in the dark). A year later and Sammar was still paralysed, unresponsive to her son. Froth, ugly froth.

She could not forget what her aunt had said to her, that night when they quarrelled about Ahmad Ali Yaseen, old family friend. Nine months have not yet passed, you want to get married again... and to whom? A semi-illiterate with two wives and children your age. I'll never give permission for something like this. From what sort of clay have you been made of? Explain to me. Explain what you think you're going to do... Throughout her childhood, the man she had called 'Uncle' Ahmad had come to visit from the south. A roll of dust behind his Toyota van, crates of mangoes, straps of sugar cane. He laughed happiness. Sammar always remembered him as laughing, except the time he cried for Tarig, his stomach shaking underneath his white jellabia the same way it did when he laughed. Doctor. He called Tarig 'doctor' even when Tarig was sixteen and waiting for his exam results.


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