By Rashida Tayabali
Life after Ali
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR HUSBAND AND SOCIAL STANDING IN A SINGLE MOMENT?
An unexpected phone call shatters Indian immigrant Tasneem Zain’s idyllic family life in Sydney. Her husband has been in a terrible accident. Doctors aren’t sure if he’ll make it.
When Ali dies, Tasneem’s social status changes overnight. People in her community believe that widows are bad luck. They must be shunned and banned from any joyous occasions to avoid their ‘bad luck’ affecting others. Tasneem is also expected to fade away into the background, and become half the woman she is.
As a widow, she must observe iddah, a compulsory mourning period for Muslim women. Isolated in a room in her home, Tasneem experiences what it means to be an outsider. Shut away from the outside world, Tasneem prays for her late husband’s soul while struggling with grief and loneliness. As her iddah progresses, she starts searching for a new identity. Who is she and what does she really want?
She also resigns herself to spending the rest of her life alone knowing that’s what’s expected. But life has something unexpected in store.
BOOK LAUNCH VIDEO
Hello! My name is Rashida Tayabali. Ever since I can remember, stories have been a part of my life. It all started with my maternal grandmother Fatima who loved to narrate stories about her life in Yemen, magical folk and her life experiences. I was born and brought up in Kenya and discovered books from a very early age. By age 9 I had read all the books and magazines mum had in the house. Reading books always makes me feel alive. It’s no surprise bookshops and libraries are my favourite places to visit! I’d also harboured a dream of becoming an author from the age of 15. Life after Ali is my first novel. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.
Tasneem was no stranger to death. She had lost both her parents to illnesses a few years ago. But Ali’s death felt different. Like half of a shared life had disappeared into a black hole, leaving the other half floundering. She couldn’t recognise herself anymore. And she couldn’t pinpoint when her identity had merged with that of her marriage and husband. She hadn’t even noticed herself blending in.
– Life after Ali
THOUGHTS ON WRITING
I have read a lot of books since I learnt how to read at the age of 5. From books by Enid Blyton (I had a collection of all her books), to the Sweet Valley High series, to Nancy Drew, to Sweet Dreams...I have read them all! As I grew older, I sought books by Jeffrey...
It took me THREE years to write my first novel Life after Ali, while running a business, looking after kids and solo parenting halfway through a pandemic! My brain came up with the idea while I was driving and somehow I knew this was THE IDEA. I had been writing...