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Written by Ruchika Thukral
Tin of Feathers
The story of Baba Ayub and Qais acts a foreshadowing element for Abdullah and PAri’s tale. At the end of the story, Qais can’t remember Baba Ayub and while Baba Ayub pines for him. He’s given a potion to make him forget Qais forming the question if memory of an estranged loved one is a blessing or bane. Similarly, by the end of novel, Abdullah has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and can’t remember Pari and Pari has grown into an old woman and can’t understand what the feathers in the tin box mean.
The oak tree is an ancient tree in Shadbagh and is old that it has acquired a supernatural status. Saboor who is fond of telling stories tells a story about a jin who drops ten leaves on a person when he agrees to grant that person’s wish. At his point, Parwana and Masooma are infatuated with Saboor but Saboor has eyes for Masooma. So Saboor expresses his desire to marry Masooma by dropping ten leaves on her head, as he knows her wish to marry Saboor. However, Masooma’s accident by falling from the same tree plays the role of cruel fate as Saboor has to marry someone else since Masooma has become and invalid now. The oak tree instead of granting the wish has denied it.
Nabi’s love story
Nabi, the cook and chauffer of Wahdatis, is taken by the beauty and mannerisms of Nila. To him, she is an enigma, someone who is completely different to the notions of society on how a woman should be. He is sad for her melancholy and can’t help but be around her. Such is his reverence that he keeps her secret of infidelity from others but Nila is not in love with him. Mr. Wahdati, who Nabi finds a melancholy man with a taste for solitude, is actually a closeted homosexual, in love with Nabi. His solitude comes from his phobia of not being understood or being ridiculed by the society. It is a coincidence that Nabi discovers Suleiman’s fascination with him.
Thalia, when she was five, was mauled by the dog of Madeline’s first husband. The beast was uncontrollable and Madeline not a very caring mother, thus Thalia sustained heavy injuries. The surgery that was meant to treat the injuries was botched. The flap to cover her gaping wounds turned septic, resulting in multiple organ failure and thus had to be removed along with some skin around her mouth, leaving her to live in a life of shame and solitude. Thus, the surgery which was meant for her recovery made it worse.
Abdullah’s final note to Pari
Abdullah’s final note to Pari on the tin box of feathers is written in Farsi. Pari, an Afghan raised in Paris, can’t decipher the letter. The letter is finally read by Abdullah’s daughter who marvels at having found the use of studying Farsi. Pari, Abdullah’s daughter, has a contempt for her parents for making her take lessons in Farsi and religion while denying activities like swimming and soccer. She is unable to understand her parents’ feeling for something foreign which feels entirely normal to her. She develops low esteem because of this and can’t understand the purpose of Farsi lessons which ironically comes to use when she has to read her father’s final note to his sister.
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