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Sparks, tears and new beginnings with some fears. As humans we thrive on connection with others. Continue with Facebook Continue with Google Continue with email. Confirm your details. Year Select Male Female Unspecified. Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest news, competitions and offers.

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In the past six months, these and other nearby cities have swelled with fire refugees. Prescriptions filled at the Chico Walgreens have doubled. So has the number of licenses issued by the Chico Department of Motor Vehicles. Some people moved farther away, to places like Hawaii and Florida, where no one knew their trauma. Some have left permanently; others plan to rebuild.

The magnitude of the incident is still hard for a lot of people to process and accept. Linda Stratton, whose grandfather had opened the Stratton Market, also lost in the fire, said the news came as a relief. Everyone I know is affected.

Giving Up Paradise

It affects every aspect of your life — doctor, school, work, veterinarian. Everything you can think of in your life is changed. Susan Doyle was angry. I worked my whole life for my home. Four girls were enough to tidy up after three rambunctious and mischievous boys. But Mother was concerned about my soul.

You see, all these labors, the endless laundry and cooking, was intended to earn us a place in janno , the afterlife. It was not unusual for girls to stop school at 13 when their parents and relatives would start thinking about how to marry them off. Hawa and her brood often spent the evenings with us. I was often her target. Mother remained unruffled on such occasions.


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She would offer Hawa and her brats more tea and sweet coconut cookies. She would make it so that everyone knew the older first wife was wiser and more pious than the second. One morning, Father was in the kitchen with Mohammed balanced on his knee, showing him the Koran and talking to Mother. A delivery of concrete made at just the right time had earned Father a hefty commission. He felt vindicated after many years of hard work. I saw Mother watching me from the stove where she was stirring the midday meal.

I made eye contact with her, and behind the look of a peacemaker there was also the steady gaze of determination. I heard what your teacher said. You are gifted. The money Papa made is for Mohammed, Jamil, and Elmi, but I will squeeze some for you so you can continue to learn.

Mother was concerned about my soul. You see, all these labors, the endless laundry and cooking, was intended to earn us a place in janno, the afterlife. The following week, my mother and I donned our hijabs, making sure we were covered head to foot, and walked to the bus stop.

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The secondary school was in Parklands, a distant bus ride away. Up to then my life had been confined to a few trips to downtown Eastleigh. The girls of the neighborhood and I spoke the same language. After I became a woman, I woke up before dawn to pray with my sisters. My world was complete. Yet I felt the tug of the possibility that the outside offered.

As I stepped into the new school, I tried to picture my future classmates. They smiled. They even laughed in public.


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A very friendly classmate named Jane invited me to eat lunch with her and her friends. I listened enrapt to their conversations about witches and wizards. They wanted to be Hermione. I wanted to wave a wand and be like them.

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Jennifer lent me books. Amber gave me clothes. First, a short sleeve top. Then a short skirt. Then high heel shoes. Sometimes I felt so comfortable in the Parklands life, as I called it, that I forgot to put on my hijab again when coming home. On a Friday afternoon, Jane invited me to go to the cinema with the girls the next day.

Paradise Is A Lie: A History Of False Utopias

Saturdays I went to Koran school with my sisters. I had to figure out a way out. I told Mother I was going to sing songs in praise of the prophet at a mosque downtown. I made it sound like it would be impolite not to go and a letdown for the religious students at school who went to so much trouble to organize it.

And once I lied the first time, it was easier to lie again. One afternoon I had a project at the library.

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Another, I needed to be present at a student meeting. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of Hawa when exiting the school bus. She came to the flat that evening, clearly angered and in one of her mean moods. We were sitting around the kitchen, drinking tea. Father was away on another trip. I had my schoolbook balanced on my knee.