"All My Rage" by Sabaa Tahir, Part II

November 4, 2022
Noor and Sal — two Pakistani American teenagers living in a small town — are falling in love as they struggle with difficult family issues.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Parts V–VI
Clouds' Rest was fairly enveloped in drifting gossamer films, and the Half Dome loomed up in the garish light like a majestic, living creature.
English was like the broken shards of glass that lined the high walls in wealthy neighborhoods. Urdu was melodic. Like gossamer, as this John Muir said.
Toufiq laughed, rueful and charming. "I am sorry. It is a stupid thing to say."
He bragged to the chaiwallah about the Suzuki's boot, preening as the chaiwallah nodded dutifully.
This morning, while putting on the shalwar-kameez she got me last Eid: Wear jeans instead of shalwar, Putar, she whispered.
When I finally got to her hospital room, Ama's IV had been taken out, the machines clustered around her like sentinels in mourning, having failed in their mission to keep her alive.
Gingerly, I ease away and whisper into her ear.
Some of Ashlee's pain meds make her temperamental, and some mellow her out.
Before Ashlee can protest, Khadija's ushered her away with that smooth competence she must call on in courtrooms, when she's defending her clients.
Then the imam invokes the name of God, and the world tilts, because he speaks of Ama as someone who was, instead of someone who is.
Uncle Faisal and Arsalan exchange a surreptitious glance.
But you know you stole them. Noor looked so perplexed at my perfidy that I started to squirm.
They are these ugly loafers with TODS emblazoned on the side.
She's toying with the ends of her long hair and staring at a picture Ama put up a few months ago. It's one I took before the Fight, of the two of them drinking tea, rapt as they watched a Pakistani drama.
It's a clumsy change in subject and Noor looks at me askance, smiling slightly.
It's in a housing tract next to a stretch of empty desert, low and pale like everything else in Juniper.
I haven't been by in months, but the BEWARE OF DOG sign that Riaz hung up years ago as a burglar deterrent is still there.
Noor glances at the front door, shoulders caving, like she can already hear her uncle's censure.
The page was covered in meticulous notes and faded highlighter.
"He even looked like a saint. What did it get him? A hovel that collapsed on him and killed everyone he loved."
He got an internship at the weapons center in Juniper—a coveted spot.
By the time I get home I'm not feeling better, exactly. Just less like I want a rogue tornado to snatch me up into the ether.
It's strangely fancy, incongruent against the whitewashed cinder blocks and winter-shriveled rosebushes on either side.
Cancer is mercurial. Sometimes you can beat it and sometimes you can't.
You are in arrears on your business loan payments. As of January 28, you are 60 days late on your payments.
Failure to bring your account to current by paying the full amount of $5,346.29 by April 15 will result in fees and precipitate the loss of your business—the complete seizure of all assets associated with said business.
After I hand it over, the repo guy moves quickly, hooking a couple of long cables to the Civic's chassis.
The Gold Mirage Banquet Hall was swathed in artful swoops of orange and red organza.
Drums thundered in a familiar, joyful rhythm—the signal that the groom and his retinue had arrived.
Aisha, with her unrequited flirtations at university, saw fit to supply me a small box of “necessary items."
Toufiq's mother gesticulated wildly to my brother.
“She is—we think she is inebriated. Faisal mentioned the lateness of the barat—and she exploded. I could smell it on her, Misbah.”
Of all the things I expected, a drunken mother-in-law was the last.
It's a horror show—streaks in the toilet, toothpaste congealed on the sink, and a trash can overflowing with five days' worth of takeout boxes.
Her off-key humming is a strangely soothing counterpoint to "Comfortably Numb" blasting in one ear.
A shy spark kindles between us, and Noor regards me quietly, the half-moon above twinning into pale boats that drift in the nadirs of her eyes.
"UVA was my safety. And not a very smart one. I only picked schools I really wanted. Didn't have enough money for more applications."
"Aren’t there fee waivers or—"
She looked up into my eyes, and I wished I could go to every school that rejected her to confront their admissions boards and tell them that they are fools and charlatans.
Sometimes, I feel like the language of my body is equally unfathomable. I'll die being the only person who ever knew how to speak it.
She gestures to my sodden shirt.
My descent into the criminal underworld of Juniper begins the next night in Legacy Village, one of those cookie-cutter subdivisions with a clubhouse and a fake waterfall and an overzealous gate guard.

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