Gradually, the past merges with the present as the novel meanders through their lives, uncovering the secrets people keep, the words they swallow and the emotions they elect to mute. For this family, faintly detectable through the sharp spicy aromas that find their way out of Khadeejah's kitchen, the scent of tragedy is always threatening. Eventually it may bring this family together, if not, it will tear them part. While some people dedicated their lives to sadness or to love, or to their careers, Khadeejah threw herself into her cooking. The neighbours often caught whiffs of crushed garlic, fresh chillies or roasting jeera from her open kitchen window. And if any of them looked into her window they would see the familiar sight of Khadeejah in her blue apron peeling big brown onions. You always smell like onions, Nani, Aneesa often giggled. Khadeejah didn't mind. Onions had a calming effect on her. She even enjoyed the quiet tears that ran down her fame as she sliced them.