The Grammar of Grief

Aamer Hussein in The International Literary Quarterly:


It was happenstance, of course. Lady L and her old adversary Reza Shah fell in the same year. He from his throne, she from her bicycle. A broken limb meant that, given the battle of succession that followed, she never did reclaim her role as High Priestess of Persian in our department.
Lady Jane would have been more appropriate a title: she was born into the minor nobility but had never married, and would not have been addressed as Lady Lambert. In the hallowed halls of Middle Eastern Studies she was known as The Professor. Reputed to be a martinet, or, at her less than benign best, an academic Mary Poppins. She was tall, thin and hollow-cheeked; she scraped back her steel-wire hair into a little bun. She wore masculine tweed jackets over severely-tailored skirts. But she had a soft accent when she spoke Persian, and sometimes she wore an agate brooch coquettishly pinned above a breast.

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