*back to part 1*      
11) Far from this hustle and bustle, Kubra, shame-stricken, with her head bowed, stayed seated in the 'mosquito room'. In the meantime, the cutting-out had reached an exceedingly delicate stage. Some gusset would be cut backwards, and at that the women's wits too were 'cut' [so that they became superstitiously fearful]. Kubra shivered, and peeped in from the shelter of the doorway.     = A machchharo;N vaalii ko;Thrii is presumably a small chamber plagued by mosquitoes
12) [*D4*] This very thing was the difficulty. No damned outfit could be sewed in peace! If some gusset would be cut backwards, then you can be sure that in the arrangements the Barber-woman had made, some impediment will appear. Or else some mistress of the bridegroom's will turn up, or his mother will impose the obstacle of a demand for solid gold jewelry. [*notes 5*] If the got would be cut crookedly, then take it that either negotiations will break down over the dowry, or there will be a quarrel over a bedstead with legs covered in silver-work. The omens for the fourth-day outfit are very subtle. All Bi Amma's [*N4*] experience and adroitness proved to be of no avail. No telling how it would happen, at the exact moment, that something the size of a mustard seed would suddenly take on importance. From the day of her "Bismillah" ceremony, the adroit mother had begun to put together the dowry. If even a little scrap of fabric was left, then she sewed a cover for an oil-jar or a bottle, adorned it with gold-thread lace, and put it aside. What can you say about a girl? --she grows like a cucumber! When the wedding procession comes, then this efficiency will prove handy.     = the Bismillah ceremony marks the time when a child begins to learn to read
13) And when Abba passed away, efficiency too ran out of breath. Hamidah suddenly remembered her father. How thin and scrawny Abba was-- as tall as a Muharram pole. If he once bent over, then it was difficult for him to stand upright. Very early in the morning he would rise, break off a toothbrush-twig, take Hamidah on his knee, and think about who knows what. Then as he was lost in thought, some sliver of the toothbruth-twig would lodge in his throat, and he would cough and cough. Hamidah would grow cross and get down from his lap. She didn't at all like to be shaken by the bursts of coughing. At her childish anger he would laugh, and the cough would roughly catch in his chest. As if a pigeon with its throat cut would keep on fluttering. Then Bi Amma would come and help him. She would thump him vigorously on the back. "God forbid-- what kind of laughter is this!"      
14) Raising eyes reddened from the pressure of the coughing fit, Abba would smile helplessly. The coughing would stop, but for a long time he would sit panting.      
15) "Why don't you take some kind of medicine? How many times have I told you?"      
16) "The doctor in [*notes 6*] the general hospital says to have injections. And every day a quart of milk and an ounce of butter."      
17) "Oh, may dust fall on those doctors' faces! What the hell-- for one thing, a cough, and on top of it, [*D51*] fat-- won't it create phlegm? Go and see some hakim."      
18) "I'll do that." Abba made his huqqah bubble, and again began to cough.      
19) "May that wretched huqqah burn in the fire! It's what has given you this cough! Have you [*N5*] even bothered to look up and notice your grown daughter?      
20) And Abba looked at Kubra's youth with a glance that implored mercy. Kubra was grown-- who said she was grown? It was as if ever since [*notes 7*] the very day of her "Bismillah," she had heard of the coming of her youth, and had hesitated, and stopped. No telling what kind of youth had come, that neither did fairies dance in her eyes, nor did her curls become disordered around her cheeks, nor did storms arise in her breast, nor did she ever sulk at the dark clouds of the rainy season and demand a sweetheart or a lover. That bowed-down, trembling youthfulness, that came sneaking up to her on tiptoe, no telling when-- in the same way, no telling when or where, it went away again. The "sweet year" became salty, and then turned bitter.      
21) Abba one day fell face down at the doorsill, and no hakim's or doctor's prescription could enable him to rise.      
22) And Hamidah stopped making temperamental demands for sweet roti.      
23) And betrothal-messages for Kubra somehow, no telling where, lost their way. Just take it that no one even knew that behind that sackcloth curtain someone's youth is gasping out its last breaths, and one new youth, like the hood of a serpent, is rearing up.      
24) But Bi Amma's routine didn't break down. In just the same way, every day in the afternoon she spread out in the sihdari many-colored fabrics, and continued to play dolls' games.      
*on to part 3*      
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