Deleted Vignette 1 – Naheed

The following is a deleted vignette from The Songs of All Poets, featuring one of the characters, Naheed, the MC’s ayah (nanny). *********************************************************************************************** The silent call to prayer woke Naheed just before dawn. She unwound the child from her sari and retied the threadbare fabric around her waist. It had been a fitful night for Flora, but she now slumbered peacefully on the wooden floor.

Naheed slid her arms under her charge and drew her close to her shoulder, and then, leaning heavily on the bed frame, lifted the girl back up to her bed. She gazed down at the girl; the same age as her own child who was still small enough to throw over her shoulder. No, Flora wasn’t going to waste away. Not from starvation, anyway, she thought.

After tucking a cotton sheet around Flora’s chest, Naheed took the previous night’s basin of dirty water into the adjoining bathroom. She checked that the sweeper had already removed the slops, and carefully closed the door.

From the knot in the end of her sari she drew out a slither of soap and wet it in the basin. The window pane brightened while Naheed washed her face and arms, rhythmically circling with soapy water. She drew up her sari, and after washing her feet, retied the soap in the sari end.

The sun was only just rising, but she was already dry from its heat. Naheed stood and bowed to commence her Fajar prayers. Her body bending, kneeling, her mouth muttering, hands cupping the sides of her face. Repetitively in motion.


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