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Ayesha's Rainbow
Ayesha's Rainbow.jpg
Author Rabina Khan
Illustrator Malik Al Nasir
Cover artist Abdul Azim
Country United Kingdom
Language English, Bengali
Genre Children's literature, fiction
Publisher Fore-Word Press
Publication date
15 September 2006
Media type Print
Pages 404
ISBN 978-0954886721

Ayesha's Rainbow is a 2006 children's novel written by Rabina Khan about a young Bangladeshi girl who befriends an elderly white neighbour despite escalating racism around them.

Plot summary

The Bangladeshi Ali family move next door to the elderly, white Mrs. Peters in London's East End. They have purchased a flat that belonged to Mrs. Peters' recently deceased friend Vera. Mrs. Peters has lived in the East End all her life; she is lonely and averse to change, especially towards accepting people of a different culture. Mrs. Peters is feeling more lonely of late but cannot bring herself to greet her new neighbours, as she has never been on friendly terms with anyone who is not white. The Alis have had negative experiences in the past with white neighbours.

The Alis seven-year-old daughter, Ayesha, recognises a faint hint of a smile from Mrs. Peters when she first moved in. Despite Mrs. Peters initial reluctance to engage in conversation, Ayesha wins her over, and an unlikely friendship develops between them. It is through Ayesha that the two families learn about each other so that various myths are understood and they realise they share many common views when Mrs. Peters is also on speaking terms with the rest of the Ali family, which brings their two contrasting families together, crossing religious, cultural and racial barriers.

In the Ali family there is Yusuf, the oldest son, on his way to being a doctor, Hamzra, who plans to make a lot of money from the stock exchange when he starts work, and Shazia, Ayesha's combative older sister. Mrs Peters also has had four children, now into their Middle Ages: Vivien, Susan, David, and Graham. Mrs Peters is keen to flaunt her new friends to Vivien, as she has the most liberal outlook on life, and also has a passion for world travel. Susan and David are unsure what to make of their mother's new neighbours, but her youngest son, Graham, is interested in joining a racist political party and has little doubts about his views, which are very reactionary and which have also never been discouraged by his mother – until now. The Peters family are divided in their approach to their mother's new friends.

When Mrs. Peters is attacked in her home, a chain of emotions unfolds, affecting both families and the rest of the community.

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