Through her father, Ahmed is able to witness the costs of the shifting political fortunes of Egypt. As the Chairman of the Hydro-Electric Power Corporation, Ahmed’s father opposes Prime Minister Nasser’s plan to build the Aswan High Dam on ecological grounds. The Dam is a highly important project for the Nasser regime: it will establish Egypt’s ability to take on grand modernization projects, and its construction involves further establishing Egypt’s independence from France and England. Nothing sways Ahmed’s father from him idealistic position, and he goes on to publish books in the 1950s condemning the plan, which are confiscated by the government. Ahmed views her father as so invested in his scientific ideals that he is unable to see the political consequences of his actions. The stubborn stance he takes will haunt him for the rest of his life, as the government meddles in his financial and personal affairs and harasses his family.

Ahmed’s father is the source of much of Ahmed’s conflict regarding the multiple cultures that surround her. He does not send his children to an Islamic school to study the Quran, in part because of his traumatic experience there as a child, being beaten by stern teachers for small infractions. A native Egyptian, Ahmed’s father earns part of his status in society by marrying a member of the Turkish upper-classes—Turks were the ruling class of the Ottoman Empire and thus enjoyed high standing in Egyptian society. Nonetheless, Ahmed’s father constantly hits boundaries in his professional life. When he is a student, for instance, British authorities, fearing the expansion of the educated, skilled classes in Egypt, demand he switch majors from engineering to geography in order to receive a scholarship. Despite his setbacks, Ahmed’s father never loses his reverence for British culture and ideas, an attitude that Ahmed chalks up to “colonial consciousness,” or an atmosphere in which the colonized begin to internalize the ideology that oppresses them.