Three months into his marriage to Fatima, a marriage he initially resisted, Abdulla loses her in a fatal car accident. Though he had resisted the idea of marriage, he'd grown accustomed to having Fatima around and had grown to love her. Her sudden death left a void and he vowed to never marry again. It's unfortunate, then, that part of his duty to his family is to re-marry, specifically, one of his cousins.
Abdulla's cousin, Hind, has no desire to get married either. A bookish, yet stylish, woman, she'd like nothing more than to get her master's and work. Whereas most Qatari wives are content with shopping, she wants more from life. Feeling pressure from the family, Abdulla and Hind agree to marry after Hind has spent a year in London working on her degree.
I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Hind and Sangita, her classmate turned roommate and best friend. An American of Indian descent, Sangita was raised in a Hindu household. While she's familiar with some of the aspects of Hind's religion, Islam, she's not aware of them all and the author does a great job of highlighting the similarities and differences. With time running out, it's up to Sangita to help Abdulla and Hind figure out how they can, or if they want to, make the marriage work.
I had to laugh at some comments and nod in agreement with others as Rajakumar pokes fun at stereotypes and ideology. For example,
When she arrives for orientation, bang on time, which would have been considered early in Doha, she is the last student there. So much for trying to avoid the stereotype of being on Arab time.
Growing up in the African American community, there's always been a joke about people that consistently run late being on CP time. CP meaning colored people.
In another instance, Abdulla is called a Paki (short for Pakistani) and Sangita is surprised to see that he doesn't react, only commenting to her that he's Arab, not Asian. To which she responds, in reference to the West,
"They colonize the world and don't even bother to notice that we're different?"
"Brown is brown. Sometimes brown is even black," he says.
While the author doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on how the Asian or Arab world is perceived by Europeans or Americans, it is interesting to note that the perceptions and stereotypes of people of color can be just as damaging in Europe as they are in America.
This was a short and enjoyable read. At only $ 2.99 (free for Prime members) in the Amazon store, you should definitely check it out if you're looking to broaden your mind.
Published: July 2012
Theme: Balle Balle from Bride and Prejudice