This novella is one of two very different halves. The first 40 pages comprise children’s fables intertwined in an intriguing, magical and poetical manner, with a recognisable fairytale element. Then the prose, while still charming, becomes detached and impassive for an engaging love story about the enduring relationship between Pakistani intellectual Usman and English artist Lydia. Don’t worry, there is a link and it does become clear.
Now, it seemed to him, he was just another colourful motif in the mural of her tranquility, not its maker as he once would unquestioningly have thought he was. There was something he resented in this contentment. Everything so casual, so enthusiastic, so full of excess energy. Lydia, he reflected, seemed to have left him; he wasn't sure how well he knew this bustling, practical Rokeya who had taken her place.