Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed is the author of books: A Deconstructed Heart, A Change in the Weather (The Purana Qila Stories, #1), The Dust Beneath Her Feet (The Purana Qila Stories, #2), The Well-Tended Garden (The Purana Qila Stories, #3)
Mirza is a middle-aged Indian college professor whose wife has left him. He moves out of his house into a tent in his back garden, where he sets up an outdoor classroom and serves tea to his kind but bewildered neighbors. He is visited by the irritable spirit of his long-dead teacher, Khan Sahib, who is befuddled by the dysfunctions of modern life. In the north of England, Mirza's niece, Amal, is finishing up her last year of college before she is expected to join her parents in their new home in India. Asked by her father to talk her uncle back into his senses, she moves into Mirza's house, and they soon are connected by their shared loneliness. She meets Rehan, Mirza's student, and is intrigued by the path of certainty he has built over his own loss and loneliness--a certainty that is threatened by his growing feelings for her. When Rehan disappears, Amal's suffering forces Mirza to face the world once more. Together, Mirza and Amal must come to a new understanding of what it means to be an immigrant family when the old traditions have unraveled. A Deconstructed Heart is a novella that explores the breakdown and rebuilding in one immigrant family trying to adapt: how lines in families and cultures are forcibly redrawn, how empty space can be reframed by a tent into a new definition of home... but how, no matter how hard we may try to forget, the past refuses to be contained.
When Imran was a young doctor in England, he faced a decision that would change lives forever. Now, as an old man entering the last days of his life with his loving family in India, the decision he made fifty years ago has the power to upend everything he stands for and destroy the devotion of his family and friends. One person knows his secret and must decide what is revealed or remain hidden. Reminiscent of the style of “An Atlas of Impossible Longing”, “A Change in the Weather” is a poignant tale about honor and loss, and how these two forces have unforeseen consequences that spill from one generation into the next.
Safiyah's husband Aarif has worked as a servant, first for the British and then for the wealthy family living at Purana Qila. After a robbery leaves him under a cloud of suspicion, Aarif moves to north India to find work, leaving his wife behind with their two young daughters and no money. It is 1947: the British are leaving and Partition is looming, as tensions between Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus break out all across the country. Political riots escalate to mass murder, making neighbors distrust one another and travel perilous. The division of India and Pakistan places a border between husband and wife, just as Safiyah hears some gossip about Aarif that makes her question whether her family will ever be whole again. She has a difficult decision to make: whether she will allow a rumor to tear her family apart or risk embarking on a journey from which she may never return.
Safiyah’s husband has taken a second wife and started a new life in Lahore. Safiyah must return to India alone and raise her daughters, Henna and Laila. She tries to safeguard them from the disappointments of love by driving them towards ambitious heights in their studies, while she toils as a servant at Purana Qila. She is surprised by the offer of a second chance of happiness with a faithful admirer, but she is a mother first and has a difficult decision to make. She must weigh her happiness against the future of her daughters, who, despite her efforts, have also been vulnerable to the unspoken longings of the heart.