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The teaset was all that Mariam's mother had of her own mother. When Mariam dropped the bowl, "her mother's face flushed red and her upper lip shivered, and her eyes, both the lazy one and the good, settled on Mariam in a flat, unblinking way." Her mother holds her close and, through gritted teeth, calls her "harami". The significance of this word changes over time. Initially, the word meant bastard. When Mariam got older she understood the subtext of Nana's statement... "illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance."