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Shabanu

Suzanne Fisher Staples

Derawar and Ramadan

Sharma, Desert Storm, and Thirsty Dead

Derawar and Ramadan, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Derawar

Grandfather dies in the night. After Dadi washes the body, he and Shabanu search for a burial place. They want to bury Grandfather before the hot sun begins to make his body decay. They ride to the nawab's cemetary. Over the fence, they catch sight of the elaborate graves of the martyrs and the nawab's wives. The gate to the graveyard, however, is locked. They turn to go when a wizened old man, the keeper of the cemetery, approaches them. Dadi explains their wishes, but the old man seems reluctant to help them. He unhelpfully tells them that the nawab's three sons are arguing over the estate and that no one has been allowed on the property for five years. He finally suggests Dadi ask the keeper of the fort for permission to enter.

At the fort, a dignified and respectful man greets them. He is one of the nawab's personal guards and a compatriot of Grandfather's. However, he cannot help them secure permission to bury the dead man. He directs them to the town's tomb maker. When they find that the tomb maker is in another village, the family travels to the edge of the desert and builds the tomb themselves.

They place Grandfather in the bottom of the grave facing Mecca, throw handfuls of Cholistani sand over him, and fill the grave as the sun sets, praying all the while. They attach brightly colored strips of material to a post at the head of the grave. They walk forty steps from the grave and turn to pray once more, as Grandfather greets the angels.

The family debates what to do next. Dadi wants to leave immediately for Mehrabpur, but Mama reminds him that Hamir's family is not expecting them for another month. They decide they must stay in Derawar, despite unfriendly villagers and poor wells.

Mama and Phulan chatter over the wedding as they cook supper that night. Shabanu notices the topics Mama neglects to discuss: what will happen between Hamir and Phulan after the wedding and how Phulan should behave toward her new family. She longs for Mama to explain these mysteries.

The old guard from the fort joins them for dinner. He promises to watch over Grandfather's grave. Shabanu impulsively asks the old man to place Grandfather's sword and fez in an honored place. He agrees to place them in the tomb of a general whose body was never found. Shabanu feels satisfied that Grandfather's soul will rest in peace.

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