The sand was different here. Sana wondered if it could be called sand. It looked like someone had taken a truckload of rocks and shells and steamrolled them into billions of multi-coloured grains. That’s exactly what it is, silly, except, the waves pounded them so. Don’t you remember any Geography from school, chided the half of Sana who, while being a responsible mother of two, still seemed to hold quadratic equations, electrolysis and weathering patterns in her bit of brain. The other Sana, the dynamic multifaceted one, cupped a handful of sand and let it stream between her fingers as she splayed them. Much grainier than Dubai sand. Maybe I can market it as a scrub, the entrepreneur piped up as she pinched a little sand and rubbed it on the back of her other hand. She’d once walked past a stall at Mirdif City Centre that sold Dead Sea beauty products. If someone promoted a local sand that’s bursting with minerals and polishes away dead skin cells, they could make a lot of money. But rational Sana cut short the thought by reminding herself that the sand belonged to the government, not a housewife who dreamed up a new business idea every week.

‘What’re you doing, Mama?’

Sana looked up at her sixteen-year-old daughter and noticed again the T-shirt that wasn’t long enough and the jeans that were far too tight. It was her fault, and, if she were to assign blame elsewhere, the fault of the girls who used to bully her when she was at school. To be more like them, Sana had once cut herself a fringe, but she hadn’t realised two things: because her hair was curly it looked much shorter than she’d cut it; and because she had no way of straightening her hair, a fringe, even the right size, would never look good on her. Although Sana couldn’t remember what the girls had said, she knew it made her pin up the fringe every day until it grew out. She’d wanted Maya to be confident. Sana always told her she was beautiful, something her own parents had never done – not because they thought she wasn’t, but because it just wasn’t done – and she encouraged Maya until she did whatever she pleased and there was little Sana could do to stop her that didn’t involve an argument.

‘You know we could sell this as a scrub,’ she said to stop herself from mentioning the shirt again and ruining any chances of a pleasant day out. It had taken weeks to convince Maya and Hamza, her fourteen-year-old son, that a family outing to the east coast of the UAE was more enjoyable than spending yet another Friday in front of the TV or on their various internet enabled devices.

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