... Manchester and other mill towns, where people lived in crude shanties and shacks, some not completely enclosed, some with dirt floors. These shanty towns had narrow walkways. Population density was extremely high. Eight to ten unrelated mill workers often shared a room, often with no furniture, and slept on straw or sawdust. Toilets were shared if they existed. Disease spread through a contaminated water supply. Also, people were at risk of illness due to dampness.
Sakina is an embroidery artist growing up in the shanty town of Indian Nairobi, a railroad settlement in British East Africa in the early 1900s. At home there are many storytellers like her stepmother, grandfather and uncle whose stories blend into histories of India and East Africa that flare her child's imagination. In her tormented married life, while becoming a woman, Sakina finds comfort in the art of the beadwork of the Maasai.