This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding a luggage tag, mini book necklace, and a $15 Starbucks GC to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Interviewer: Today we are delighted to have Haseena Gill with us on the Tell Us About Your Family Show. How are you Mrs. Gill? Or may I call you Haseena?
Haseena: Of course. This is a friendly family show, isn’t it?
Interviewer: It certainly is. And we’re interested in finding out about your family, too.
Haseena: Oh, they’re back in Pakistan. I don’t see them.
Interviewer: You don’t see them? Ever?
Haseena: You have to understand something. When my sister, Nawal, married Jonti, our family disowned her.
Haseena: Because Jonti was Indian. A Hindu.
Interviewer: And your family is …
Haseena: Muslim. Yes. So stupid. Neither of them cared much about religion.
Interviewer: But your family doesn’t want to see Nawal or you? Why?
Haseena: You know how sisters fight all the time when they’re growing up? Not us. Nawal always took care of me. I was the naughty one, always in trouble. But Nawal would somehow find a way to talk our father out of punishing me. It was Nawal who beat up Wafisa, the bully who kept taking my lunch. And this Wafisa, she was much bigger than Nawal. I still remember how Nawal gave her one thump in the stomach and that was it. Wafisa never bothered me again. And then Nawal met Jonti. So thrilled! And I was thrilled for her, too. She told me all about this funny, romantic architect, who sang Bollywood songs to her and talked about making a life in England. I was scared for her--how could she think of going so far away? How would she live without me, without our family? She introduced me to him. Such a big secret. And I saw how he adored her. He promised me he’d always take care of her. And then Jonti wrote a letter to our father, asking for his permission to marry Nawal. Our father, he almost split the house apart with his anger. He threw all of Nawal’s clothes into the street. He destroyed everything in her room, her mirror, the pictures she made with a special paintbrush and indigo ink, her favorite blue chair. My mother and I tried to stop him but he pushed my mother so hard she fell and hit her head on the door handle. I took her downstairs and we just held on to each other while my father raged upstairs. Nawal couldn’t even come and collect her things. She had to stay with an aunty until the wedding. Imagine! My own sister’s wedding and we had to stay at home and pretend that Nawal was no longer our family. We couldn’t phone her, or even say her name.
Interviewer: This is awful, Haseena.
Haseena: I was 22. I told myself: I can stay here and take care of my parents, as a good daughter should. Or I can go to my sister. I just turned up at their apartment with my bag. Nawal was overjoyed to see me. We fell into each other’s arms.
Interviewer: How did Jonti take it?
Haseena: He welcomed me in, moved all of his architect’s tools and drawing board out of the studio, and made me comfortable there. And he bought my ticket to England as well. I think he’s probably the kindest man I ever met.
Interviewer: And did he ask for the money?
Haseena: My second husband, the one that died from heart disease, he left me a lot of money. He opened a bank account for me so that no one else could access it. So, I tried to give Jonti money, but he wouldn’t take anything.
Interviewer: That’s quite a brother-in-law you have.
Haseena: Had. He died some years ago. Nawal was heartbroken.
Interviewer: And your family never contacted you?
Haseena: We wrote to them, to let them know. But we never heard back.
Interviewer: So sad. And here you are in England with no man to protect you.
Haseena: My sister and I do very well by ourselves. We have our own business selling home décor items. And my brother-in-law, Arjun, is also here.
Interviewer: That’s quite a story.
Haseena: I did receive a card once. For my birthday. The stamp was from Pakistan. The writing on the envelope was my mother’s. It was shaky. Some words had been crossed out and rewritten, as though she was writing in a hurry. But there was no writing on the card. Just a greeting, “To my wonderful daughter, a happy birthday, with all my love”.
Interviewer: Thank you, Haseena. And, something we always ask our guests: what’s your favorite book?
Haseena: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. I’ve read and re-read it. There’s always something new. Always something comforting.
READ THE BLURB:
READ AN EXCERPT:
When the body no longer operates, the self disappears. He feels this diminishing, a gradual receding of who he is, what he likes how he dresses, where he goes. And he can go nowhere. A short trip to the back window and he is tired enough to have to rest for a while on the sofa before he makes the trip back to the safety of his amchair. He longs to walk with his grandson by the seashore and go searching for treasure. Let’s dig for gold, Sami. And he would slyly drop in a few polished pennies so that Sami shouts with delight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sandra Hunter’s fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines and received awards including the 2014 H.E. Francis Fiction Award, 2012 Cobalt Fiction Prize, 2011 Arthur Edelstein Short Fiction Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations. Her debut novel, Losing Touch, was released in July (OneWorld Publications). She lives in Simi Valley, CA, with her husband and daughter, and is always on the look out for the perfect gluten-free cupcake.
Author links: http://sandrahunter.strikingly.com
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