Iqbal was being ridiculous but if she was going to persuade him to change his mind, she must stay calm. She really didn’t want it to turn into a major row. She took a deep breath, which ended on a yawn. Too tired for one thing.
Maybe she should agree to Iqbal’s suggestion and employ a girl from the village to help with the housework? She’d always refused, telling him she’d feel uncomfortable having someone working in the house. She didn’t admit to him she hated the idea of people thinking the foreign wife needed help to run her home, couldn’t cope with hard work. Bad enough they knew she couldn’t spin wool – or milk a goat.
That bloody-minded animal, feeling her first tentative touch, had looked knowingly over its shoulder at her with its nasty, wrong-way-round eyes and walked away. Tightening her grip only made the goat go faster, forcing her into an idiotic crouching run, while her friend Usma, in between shouts of laughter yelled at her to let go. When she did, falling over in a heap on the stony ground, the pain of her scraped knees had been nothing compared to the hurt to her dignity and pride. For weeks after everyone asked her if she’d milked any more goats. The day she could join in the laughter at the episode had not yet arrived.
She sighed and looked upwards. Familiarity with Afghanistan’s night skies never lessened her sense of awe. On moonless nights the Milky Way was a magical white path through stars that didn’t twinkle – they blazed. Constellations her father had taught her to recognise when she was a child – Orion, the Plough, the Seven Sisters – demonstrated proudly that here, they possessed far more jewel-bright stars than she had ever seen in Scotland. Tonight, though, the moon, almost full, had risen, dimming the stars’ brightness, silvering the jagged peaks of the mountains that kept the valley safe.
‘Our moon,’ she whispered. ‘Oh, Jawad, what have I done?’
‘Miriam?’ She jumped at the sound of Iqbal’s voice close behind her. Had he heard her whisper?
She turned to face him relieved to see he was smiling. ‘Children ready for bed?’ she asked. ‘I’ll go say goodnight to them.’
He shook his head, coming to stand next to her, saying softly, ‘Ruckshana’s already asleep. Farid is learning his spelling words for tomorrow.’ He reached for her hand. ‘Miriam, look, I suppose I should have mentioned it to you – cancelling the boys’ lessons.’
‘Mentioned it?’ She snatched her hand away, the need for calm forgotten. Tilting her head to look up at him, she asked, ‘What about discussing it with me?’
Author Mary Smith
Mary Smith is a writer, freelance journalist and poet based in beautiful south west Scotland.
She worked in Pakistan, where she set up a health education department in the national leprosy centre, and in Afghanistan for ten years, where she established a low-key mother and child care programme providing skills and knowledge to women health volunteers. Those experiences inform much of her writing. Her debut novel, No More Mulberries is set in Afghanistan and she has also written a memoir, Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women, about her time in that country. It allows readers to meet and get to know Afghan women and their families and provides an authentic insight into daily life in Afghanistan.
Mary’s poems have been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies and her first full length poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here Every Day, was published by Indigo Dreams. Dumfries Through Time is a local history in a ‘then and now’ format on which Mary collaborated with photographer Allan Devlin. They are now working on another ‘through time’ book to be published in 2017.
She is currently working on turning her blog about caring for her dad with dementia, My Dad’s a Goldfish into a book and hopes one day to write a sequel to No More Mulberries.
My Dad’s a Goldfish: https://marysmith57.wordpress.com
Take Five Authors: a blog shared with four other writers. https://takefiveauthors.wordpress.com