He tip-toed past the double bed that had been placed in a corner – wrought-iron headboard, embroidered pillows, amulets against the evil-eye and a satiny, cobalt-blue bedspread. Blue was Iskender’s favourite colour. It was the colour for boys, which meant the sky was a boy. So were the rivers and lakes. And the oceans, though he had yet to see one. p27
This he had noticed while doing his military service back in Turkey. When more than three people slept in a narrow place, sooner or later their breaths would become synchronized. Perhaps it was God’s way of telling us that if we could just let go of ourselves, we would all eventually be in step and there would be no more disputes. p46
That was when she winced, as if she had tripped over an unseen obstacle. She didn’t want to learn this man’s sad story. She didn’t want to learn anyone’s sad story. All she wanted to do was make up her own stories, taking comfort in the knowledge that they were not, and never would be, real. p60
To her the future was a land of promises. She had not been there yet, but she trusted it to be bright and beautiful. It was a place of infinite potential, a mosaic of shifting tiles, now in a seamless order, now in mild disarray for ever re-creating itself.
To him the past was a shrine. Reliable, solid, unchanging and above all, enduring. It provided insight to the beginning of everything; it gave him a sense of centre, coherence and continuity. He visited it devotedly and repeatedly, less out of need than out of a sense of duty – as if submitting to a higher will. p109
When you kneaded bread, the earth seeped into your veins, solid and strong. When you grilled meat, the spirit of the animal spoke to you, and you had to learn to respect it. When you cleaned fish, you heard the gush of water where it once swam, and you had to marinate it tenderly, so as to wash off the memory of the river from its fins. p118
When life forms trusted you, they yielded their secret. Not right away, but gradually. They you knew which plant was right to heal which ailment. Everything in the universe, no matter how little or how insignificant, was meant to be an answer to something else. When there was a problem, there was a solution, and often surprisingly near by. It was a matter of seeing. Jamila was a seer. p173
Since time immemorial the natives of Mesopotamia had called diamonds ‘The Tears of Gods.’ They believed they were made of the dust that fell from the stars above or from splinters that broke off from lightning bolts on stormy nights. Jamila had even heard some say that they were the crystallized drops of sweat shed every spring when Mother Earth and Father Sky made love. Wild imagination! People let their thoughts run amok when they came across things over which they had little control, as if by inventing stories they could make sense of all that was painfully confusing, including their brief stay in this world. p175
Human heart like cooker. We produce heat, we make energy, every day. But when we accuse others, when we say terrible things, inner energy goes elsewhere. Our heart becomes cold. p305
Make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into dust descend.
– Omar Khayyam