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The Yard, enclosed by a high fence wall, comprised six bleached white houses arranged in a semi-circle around a central courtyard. Maya and her family lived in one of those houses and the others were occupied by her father, Father Khalid’s siblings.
Maya’s great grandparents who had come to Trinidad as indentured labour on sugarcane plantations, received the Yard land when their bondage was over. Her grandfather reaped the benefit of their hard work, became an upholsterer and oversaw the construction of this land into the Yard for his children before passing on.
The outside world rarely makes an appearance in the Yard, and one day, Father Khalid brings a young, scared boy home with him. He had found the boy in the room of his dead Aunt Livy and could not abandon him. The family accepts the young boy as their own, and the strong willed Maya names the boy Behrooz, the Arabic word for lucky, because he would need all the luck to survive in the Yard.
Behrooz has powerful feelings for Maya, and she reciprocates them, only to abandon him and leave the Yard. Years later Maya returns to find Behrooz a married, and changed man. It is her turn to feel the abandonment from an indifferent Behrooz, who subsequently leaves the Yard to make his marriage work.
The Yard is set in Trinidad, and the author shares the history of the island, but the story could have been placed anywhere in the world. The Yard shuts out the outside world and its constant change, even as its own inhabitants grow, change and pass on. The family is Muslim, and family members are more devout than the others. Father Khalid’s brother is conservative and so is his wife; at a wedding there is no music because the new son-in-law believes in the version of Islam that forbids the merry making.The narrative however is fairly independent of religion.
The children in the Yard were instructed to never leave the yard without a parent, and that they needed no friends, only family. The Yard tests the definition of what constitutes a family. That which one is born into, or one that is created through acceptance and unconditional love? The Yard is a story of love, loss and betrayal. It is a story of commitment and a story of fear of commitment. It is also a story of the power of love – of parents for their children, of passion that can scare, and of letting go of someone you love for the sake of their happiness.
I do wish there was more Trinidad in The Yard and the interaction of the Yard members with the outside world. But the story of Behrooz and Maya overshadows all other narratives and makes the book worth a read!