Blue Dust
131 pages

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131 pages

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Blue Dust is an emotional, philosophical and cultural journey that maps the relationships, dreams, hopes and fears of three generations of a family in Pakistan and the Middle East. The central character is a highly volatile and loving girl/woman who struggles largely with her own insecurities in her relationships with her father, husband and sister and the world she is born into (from a social and religious point of view ultimately blurring her sense of identity). A significant thread of the narrative is the impact her relationship with her sister has on her life and personality - and the strength of that bond is one of the most enduring forces. Her daughter also plays a pivotal role in encapsulating the emotional mood and tone of the book- particularly in exploring dichotomies of reality and perception - and the power of memory and dreams in articulating how these people respond to the events of their lives.
Through the story of this family the author also explores issues in Pakistan relevant to class, religious and social distinctions and the barriers caused by these, and a society which perpetuates and at the same time ignores issues of paedophilia and sexual repression. Blue Dust is a misty, dream-like, touching but often bloody portrayal of intensely self reflexive dramas of these individual people but relevant to the wider issues and concerns of Pakistani society as well.
'A narrative of passionate characters and many strands, skillfully woven together in this engaging debut novel. Blue Dust is a surreal, poetic and complex work that handles difficult issues with courage.' Bapsi Sidhwa
'With her poetic debut novel, Blue Dust, unfolds love's many moods. Ayesha Salman joins the list of exciting new novelists from Pakistan.' Maniza Naqvi



Publié par
Date de parution 27 décembre 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788174369062
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Ayesha Salman was born in the UK and grew up in the Middle East. She did her bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of East Anglia, UK, then worked in London for six years before setting in Pakistan. She is a writer and poet. Her poems have been published in several literary journals in the UK including Smoke and Splizz. She is currently working on two more works of fiction and remains committed to experimental fiction and the complex relationship between private and public domains in terms of meaning and comprehension. She also continues to write poetry. This is her first novel. Ayesha Salman works as a writer and editor in the development sector in Pakistan.

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The Romantics
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Blue Boy
Rani Dharker
Ranjit Lal
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The Simians of South Block and Yumyum Piglets
Raza Mir & Ali Husain Mir
Anthems of Resistance: A Celebration of Progressive Urdu Poetry
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The Sound of Water
Shandana Minhas
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Selina Sen
A Mirror Greens in Spring
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Shree Ghatage
Brahma’s Dream
Sudhir Thapliyal
Crossing the Road
Susan Visvanathan
Something Barely Remembered
Susan Visvanathan
The Visiting Moon
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The Seine at Noon
Tanushree Podder
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Greta Rana
Hidden Women

Ayesha Salman

© Ayesha Salman, 2012
All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real characters, living or dead is purely coincidental.
First published in 2012 IndiaInk An imprint of Roli Books Pvt. Ltd M-75, Greater Kailash II Market New Delhi 110 048 Phone: ++91 (011) 4068 2000 Fax: ++91 (011) 2921 7185 E-mail:; Website:
Also at Bangalore, Chennai & Mumbai
Cover Design: Sanchita Jain
ISBN: 978-81-86939-64-2
For my mother,

A green breeze sweeps us up, In slow mornings of dazzling jasmine, Waking us to red grass Sliding beneath our feet.
We live in the shade, You and I The cold white light between us.

Zaib’s Return
A s she wiped the trickle of blood from her right thigh, she looked up anxiously to make sure Asad wasn’t looking. Within a second, before he could light his next cigarette, she was gone. She disappeared, following the trail of that great big voice of a woman who seemed to be speaking just to her… Alya could now see the woman’s large black eyes fixed sternly on the terrified lot in front of her. She looked at them as if she had just fed them their last meal; henceforth they would begin their walk to the afterlife, cleansed and fat with new knowledge and forced devotion. They were immobile, in the middle of a bleeding silence that spread rapidly, filling horror into the hearts of a crowd she was so intimate with today, but hadn’t even known the day before. The woman who held the power started to walk away, her huge veil sweeping the floor behind her, her egg-head bursting through the black. The rest were not being able to focus on anything in particular, trying desperately to imagine life again. The living-dead dispersed slowly. They hardly had the strength to drag themselves out of the room. Life wouldn’t be the same again… they would live in a self-mutilating state of somnambulism… and Alya felt dirty too, just like them. Dirty, polluted, and damned. She was soiled – soiled with bad blood.

Monsoon dust swirling brick-pink liquid on sidewalks subsumed those that toed the line. In the early hours of the morning, Lahore’s ghost life swept through the streets like a phantom, a distant sun lost in the crowd’s single anticipatory ache. A faint mist anchored the movements of pedestrians as sheets of rain sank into their clothes. Wax-faced blue crow sitting in an alcove under a chopped-up building shook its head mechanically from east to west, lapping up the hum of the crowd beneath her. She sized up her next meal from a distance, a small limp piece of a bright orange substance stuck comfortably to the wall of the building that was in the process of being pulled down and therefore on the verge of collapse; it wasn’t long before she had flown off with bits of orange pulp hanging from her beak. Finally, she became a small dot lost to the sky.
‘Alya, when was the last time you saw your mother? Alya when was it? Was it in hospital or at home? What exactly do you remember?’ Probe. Probe. Probe. Nothing, I can’t remember anything. Nothing. Nothing, I can’t remember anything. Please let me be, just for now, just for one minute.
The words wrapped her up inside them. It hadn’t been that long since it happened. But now what? What next? Where will the next part take me? What was ammi going to bring home this time?
‘Alya was your mother awake when you saw her. Did she tell you anything about Hassan?’ Damn doctors – butchers. Drill. Drill. Drill. I can’t think.
Alya had been watching the rain for at least an hour from her bedroom window. She looked outside and imagined herself flat naked on her back on the road in front of her, palms balanced on soft baking cement, breasts caressed by the warm folds of air surrounding her. Another decadent monsoon pushing the limits of predictability covered her like a blanket as she tried to rearrange the reckless sky with her eyes. A steady trickle of water bubbles streaking the glass in front of her lulled her into a forced sense of serenity. For a second there was nothing… just water and air.
She gazed at the pedestrians, running for shelter; a dissipating jigsaw secluded by its surroundings. She marveled at how stark the world looked, washed by the rain, stripped to the bone. Tiny droplets of water bounced off the road deliciously like millions of small crystals. She had a sudden urge to run outside and bathe in the rain like she used to with her sister when she was a child, spinning round and round in circles until she would finally fall down dizzy, dripping with water. She became aware of those in front of her scuttling from place to place, each trying to get to their destination, each locked in a reverie about how the day ahead will unfold, busy with thoughts of the predicted events of the next few hours, events that may never even take place; events that were determined by unknown forces scribbling the destinies of millions. How certain we are of ourselves, she thought, in this huge abyss of unknown ends. Who knows what may happen and how far it will take us, perhaps never to return. That’s how things happen, in seconds, changing the future course of events forever. She knew how that worked. One step back. One step forward.
Still staring out of the window, her gaze shifted to the grey frothing gutter just outside her gate; she felt dryness at the back of her throat and tasted the bitter stench of feces. The imminent arrival of her mother cut through her. That’s why things were topsy-turvy in her head. She had forgotten to take out the rubbish the previous night, despite the mess it had caused in the kitchen. The smell of the earth outside reminded her of something, of some other time when she was a child with chocolate fingers and mud on her mouth. She had asked Zaib, her mother, whether the earth had chocolate in it. Zaib had laughed and kissed her.
‘Yes baby there is a whole load of chocolate in the earth! But not the kind you can eat because it is mixed with mud and it’s bitter!’
She smiled at her mother’s bizarre answers. She was constantly surprising, re-inventing things in her own way. It was mostly annoying at the time. Now it was endearing. And she wanted it back. But over the years much had been left unsaid, unsettled between them. No matter how hard they tried, something had slipped by before its time and they were unable to reclaim it as their own. Her eyes moistened at the thought that Zaib might want to come back and spend some time with her just to be with her. But that was impossible, not after the way they had parted the last time they met. Ammi was not that forgiving; not anymore. She was coming back to reshuffle the cards.
Alya recalled the last time she saw her in Zakar. She was talking incoherently, almost in fragments, to the extent that some of what she said seemed an affectation for Alya’s sympathy at best. She was reading Tender is the Night.
Zaib kept calling it ‘an ice-cream like substance’.
Alya, who had never read the book, looked at her oddly. ‘That means nothing ammi. What do you mean?’
That seemed to set ammi off, and the discussion ended in an argument about various unrelated issues from the past, which led to Alya catching the next flight out. Subsequently, they had talked on the phone and it seemed as if things were relatively peaceful between them. But then there was a postcard that had come a month ago. It had a picture of colourle

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