I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. – Casablanca
It’s 1998 in South London, and the cataclysmic events which will devastate New York three years from now are as yet unreality. But seismic forces are already rumbling darkly in the trouble spots of the world, and even causing tremors in the lives of the highly marginal British Muslim inhabitants of Balham. However, the Malik sisters – evolutionary biologist Sufya and dramatist Zarina – have other things on their minds. In their thirties and still not married, the two sisters are about to be reunited with their long-lost childhood playmate, Heathrow – so named for the Terminal 3 concourse on which he was discovered as an abandoned toddler. Now a well-travelled, award-winning documentary film-maker, Heathrow’s heroic return is causing great anticipation in the Malik family. After all, he’s still single, and he’s even a Muslim.
As far as their long-suffering parents are concerned, it is Sufya, the rebellious elder sister – the one who in her younger sister’s eyes always gets first pick – who is the logical betrothed for Heathrow. But as she – to her own surprise – finds herself falling for a man approved by her family, Sufya is unaware that Zarina has secretly been in love with Heathrow for years, and is no longer willing to settle for her sister’s leftovers. In fact, Zarina is determined to write her own destiny, even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices to get her man.
But there is more to their enigmatic hero than either sister knows.
Eastern mystics warn that gardens and rooms should not have three-corners as triangles are the dwelling places of djinns. What demonic power then, might lurk within a love triangle? As Clinton faces impeachment over the Lewinsky affair, and missiles fall on Baghdad, Sufya and Zarina begin to realise that they themselves are caught up in a story much bigger than the one about “three little people”. And, as the world around them starts to polarise, the two British Muslim sisters will be forced to reassess where their loyalties lie.
Written by two sisters about two sisters, Undying is a fast-paced black comedy of sibling rivalry, Sufi spells, suicide bombing and survival beyond the grave.