"All My Rage" by Sabaa Tahir, Parts V–VI

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
I have never been a violent woman, but your first grade teacher, Roberta Bridlow, was so horrible that my fingers itched to give her a thappad across the back of her head, the way my nani did to anyone impertinent.
Silence where there was once laughter. Reticence where once you would run to me.
Not her presence, but her absence: the weight of sadness that presses like a fist into Abu's heart; the rough timbre in his voice that tells of his loneliness.
He yanks up his sleeve, where there are four deep gouges that look like scratches.
He looks at me to gauge my response and when I say nothing, he leans closer.
“I gotta walk him to the courthouse for his arraignment."
Now it penetrates, with each charge the judge delivers in that flat, perfunctory voice.
I learn that "released on your own recognizance" means I don't have to wear handcuffs or have a cop following me.
It rankled me that I was older than him and yet he would not refer to me as Baji.
No more entreaties to return home.
He had not had a drink for two years by then, but it was a tenuous hold on sobriety.
Her voice was quiet and she reminded me of the redwoods in Yosemite. Strong and stoic, demanding little, offering much.
Her eyes imparted calm like a river at a gentle ebb.
Emotionally, I’m a sullen third grader.
It means implicating Noor, but if you don’t take it, you’re looking at years behind bars.
Many of Juniper's denizens are proudly racist.
A few feet away, Noor gives me a quick, searing glance, filled with contempt.
My dad's an alcoholic; I get how insidious addiction is.
“Yeah," he says quietly, the most subdued I've ever heard him.
Toufiq had sobered up for a few days, after a bout of exhaustion left me bedridden.
Riaz played the urbane mathematician to his customers. The enlightened immigrant cruelly destined to run a liquor shop though his mind was meant for something greater.
But he disdained women. Worse, he had a bitterness seething within.
Jamie Jensen, 18, landed in hot water this week when a classmate recorded her unleashing a racist tirade at another student.
California prosecutor James Atkins said that while Jensen’s
 words were repugnant, strictly speaking, no crime was committed.
Meanwhile, Princeton’s dean of admissions, Nicola Watson, released a statement: "We take the integrity of this institution very seriously, and that integrity is reflected in our students. Words and their intent matter, and are an indication of a student's ability to contribute to the overall culture of Princeton. As Ms. Jensen’s behavior is in direct violation of our code of conduct—we have rescinded her offer of admission.”
Even in crime shows where everything is supposed to be gritty, courtrooms have that movie patina.
Even in crime shows where everything is supposed to be gritty, courtrooms have that movie patina.
But this one is gritty in a mundane, everyday sort of way.
mete out
But from down here he's like some sort of demigod, prepared to mete out merciless justice.
I sit, itching miserably in this suit, staring at the huge gold seal of California on the back wall, trying to look calm and responsible as the prosecutor, Mr. Mahoney, lays out the case against Noor and me in scathing, humiliating detail.
Sister Khadija's opening argument—which is mostly about how I'm an unrepentant perp who screwed Noor over—passes in a blur.
“How would you describe Ms. Riaz when you first pulled her out of the car?" Mahoney asks Marks.
Evasive," Marks says. The microphone whines unpleasantly as he speaks. “She was definitely hiding something."
“In light of Ms. Riaz’s testimony,” Judge Ortega says when he’s back on the bench, "as well as Mr. Malik’s statement, the DA has decided to drop the charges against Noor Riaz. Closing statements in the case of the People of the State of California versus Salahudin Malik will go on in the morning as planned. Adjourned.”
Did the body grow too weary for the soul? Was it a betrayal of organs and tissues, sinews and cells?
I had never been closer to heaven than I was then, when the fabric between this world and the next was breached for one ineffable moment as I gazed into my child's eyes for the first time.
“I’ve seen people lie to me, lie to themselves, lie to their counsel—all to get out of getting jail time. It’s rare—exceedingly rare—to witness such a clear admission of guilt as I heard from you. The fact that you did so even though denying the charges could have saved you from prison makes your case even more interesting. Altruism isn't something I see often, in or out of the courtroom.”
"If you don't wish to discuss it, you shouldn't have to. You can seek somatic therapy, perhaps. Or do breath work or meditation. Because you're right. The body remembers."
“Except I'm not actually religious,” Santiago says. “I'm agnostic. You ever listen to Johnny Cash?”
Just the euphoria of reunion, of rediscovery. The sense that anything is possible because despite everything, we are here, together, with each other.
His voice is deeper now, thoughtful and measured. A bit like his father's—but tempered by an undercurrent of calm.

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