Suhel Ahmed

Suhel Ahmed

"It was a bit strange returning to my novel Broken Paths, which I’d written some time back, to select an extract for this showcase. It was rather like being reunited with a family member after a long separation. As I skimmed through the chapters memories fizzed to the surface: the yelp of joy after writing the perfect sentence, the excitement at seeing a character come to life, the agony over trying to resolve a kink in the plot, the hours of being hunched over my desk at the cost of ignoring life outside the world of the novel."

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“‘That’s when I made the mistake,’ Amina exclaimed. ‘I should have taken the money and moved to a Bengali community, somewhere in Tower Hamlets, Coventry, Luton or Leicester. It’s so much friendlier in those neighbourhoods. You would have then had a better schooling in your own culture.’ ‘Why didn’t you do it then!’ Samir snapped. ‘I didn’t want to unsettle you.’ Amina turned away and pressed her foot down on the treadle once again. The truth was that she was tempted to make the move, but also considered it a minefield for a young, single mother. For a mother who had no desire to be pressured into a second marriage and be exposed once more to the banji stigma. At the time she feared any proximity to the mealy-mouthed matriarchs in these Bengali communities. She knew how those know-it-all village wives would have eyed her as a golden ticket for some poor nephew back home – hmmm, a husbandless young woman with a British Passport, the bridge between the continents! They would have then begun circling her like sharks, courting her with kindly words: Poor beti, you can’t be expected to bring up a child on your own. I have a nephew back home. In fact, Amina counted herself fortunate to have avoided such predicaments by living in a white town. Up until the last few weeks she had been quite happy to tend to her small life as if it were a window box, watering her dreams – her son a lone plant growing all the while to provide the shade during the winter of her life.”

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