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The Yard

By Aliyyah Eniath

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The Yard was a hustle and bustle this day, when finally the Ali family would present its newest member to the rest of the clan. Behrooz preferred to remain a stranger and would sourly retreat to the solace of his room when company arrived, much to the disappointment of those who hoped to catch a glimpse of the creature rumoured to be as dark and hushed as night.

He’d absented himself from Aunt Livy’s funeral, which was held in the courtyard with only close family members and friends present. The Imam had said a few words, which came through the upper window, words that sounded strange to him, before the designated men hoisted her body away.

But the others were becoming impatient. After all, it was argued, they had a right to know the stranger who lived in such close proximity, on the same compound even, with the rest of them. Plus, this was how it always was. Everyone usually had his or her say about everything and everybody. …

Father Khalid mulled over the situation⎯the boy could be a criminal or a runaway. His parents could be looking for him. He watched the news every night, but no story of a missing child ever came up. And when he looked at the boy, he did not see a criminal. He couldn’t ignore the strangest sensation that this child was brought to him for a reason. That somehow their paths were supposed to cross. He already felt ultimately and hopelessly responsible for him.

It was Zia who thought of naming him. ‘How exactly do you plan to introduce him, Dad? We must call him something.’

Father Khalid was hesitant. Zia’s affection for the boy made him nervous. Was he theirs in the first place? ‘Perhaps his memory will return soon. Then we’d know his real name.’

‘But it would be more fun to name him, mould him.’ Zia affectionately squeezed the top of the boy’s head, as if he were something to be shaped from clay. ‘He is our brother.’

Maya rolled her eyes. ‘So this is Zia’s new pet?’

‘How about Adam…Imran…,’ Zia pressed.

‘How about Behrooz?’ Maya offered.

Father Khalid and Zia shot her a surprised glance.

Did she just name the kid she so despised?

Maya flashed the boy a sinister look. ‘Because he’s going to need all the luck he can get when we introduce him to The Yard.’

‘Behrooz, “lucky”,’ Zia consented. It was a new Arabic word Miss Grace had taught them in Maktub class. She was surprised that Maya had even paid attention enough to remember it.

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