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Do you prefer oranges or tangerines?

I really like this question because it marks a turning point in Firdaus’s life. Up until now, her actions have been more reactionary than anything else. If her father wanted dinner, then her whole family had dinner. If her mother wanted her to undergo female circumcision, then she did. If her uncle wanted to send her to boarding school, then she went. Even when she runs away from her uncle and his wife when they decide that she should marry her dead aunt’s husband, she is sent running right back because of the strange men watching her on the street. Even when she runs away from her husband, there is no planning involved, no conscious thought of escape; it just happens.

When Bayoumi asks her the question above, it is the first time that anyone has asked her anything. The saddest thing is that she doesn’t know what to say, stammering out the word tangerines when she really means oranges.  At this point in her life, she can’t even change her statement because she feels too guilty about liking the more expensive of the fruits. This changes when she plots to escape Bayoumi; knowing what she wants, she begins to fight for herself.

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