Glass Enclave
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Euphorbia Herimentiana, Cereus Peruvianus, Hoya Carnosa'. Rae read out loud the names of the cacti. Names that Sammar could not pronounce. 'Cleistocactus Reae, planted by Silvana Suarez, Miss World 1979. Really?' He made a face. It made Sammar smile. The second time to see him outside work and it still felt strange. New and happy like seeing a baby walk for the first time.

The first time had been Saturday when she went to the public library with Yasmin. Yasmin was Rae's secretary. A glass door connected her office with Rae's so that when Sammar went to see him, she could see, while they talked, Yasmin furiously typing, her straight black hair hiding her face. Yasmin's parents were from Pakistan but she was born and had lived all her life in different parts of Britain. She had a habit of making general statements starting with 'we', where 'we' meant the whole of the Third World and its people. So she would say, We are not like them, or We have close family ties, not like them. There were two other department secretaries who worked in the same room as Yasmin; cheerful, coffee-scented ladies with greying hair and pleated skirts. When one of them once patted the curves of her stomach and moaned the fact that she could not stick long to any diet, Yasmin was quick to sneer, Our children are dying of hunger while the rich count their calories!

Yasmin's husband, Nazim, worked some of the time on the oil rigs off-shore. When he was away, she tended to meet Sammar on the week-ends. Yasmin had a car and Sammar liked driving around, listening to the radio, seeing parts of the city she had not seen before. She wished she could have a car and escape the weather.

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