While the children took turns in the bath, Rehana ironed their
new clothes. This year she had chosen an egg-blue sari for herself and a blue
georgette with yellow polka dots for Maya. For Sohail there was a brown
kurta-pyjama. She had embroidered the purple flowers on the collar herself.
'Ammoo,' Maya said, 'I have to go to campus after the party I
can't wear this.'
'I'm sure your activist friends won't mind if you don't wear
white for one day.'
'You wouldn't understand,' she retorted, tucking the sari under
her elbow anyway.
After they had all bathed and put on their new clothes, the
children took turns touching Rehana's feet. 'God bless you,' she said, hugging
them tightly, their strong, tanned arms around her neck almost beyond her
They were both taller than her. Maya had passed Rehana by a few
inches, and Sohail was a full head and shoulders above them both; Rehana was
often reminded of the moment she'd met Iqbal, hunched over the wedding dais, how
he had towered over her like a thunder cloud. But in fact Sohail had grown to
resemble Rehana. He was pale and had her small nose and her slightly crooked
teeth; his hair was fashioned into a wave at the top of his head, the crest
threatening to tip over his eyelids. Sometimes, like today, he wore
kurta-pyjamas, but usually he was seen in more fashionable attire: tight,
long-collared shirts and even tighter trousers that hung over his shoes and drew
tracks in the dust.
It was Maya who looked more like her father. She had his
chestnut skin and deep-set eyes that made her look serious even when she was
trying to say something funny or make a joke which rarely happened but
Rehana had often seen her friends pause and look at each other, wondering
whether to laugh.
The foregoing is excerpted from A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
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