In April 2001, the Taliban plants TNT in the two giant Buddhas in Bamiyan and chant as the artifacts are blown to pieces. The Taliban claim that they are ridding the country of idolatry and sin. As the statues crumble, Laila sees her own life crumbling as well. Rasheed tells his family that they must pack to go away, and Aziza puts into a paper bag all the small things that are precious to her. The five leave to Karteh-Seh, and when they arrive at the barracks, Aziza asks her parents how long she will have to stay in the orphanage. Rasheed gives her a stick of gum to quiet her. When Aziza is taken away, Zalmai cries for his sister. Mariam and Laila walk the rest of the way with Aziza, and they promise to visit her. They soon meet the director of the orphanage—a balding man named Zaman. He asks Laila about Aziza’s background, and when Laila tells Zaman that the girl’s father, her husband, is dead, Zaman says that he runs the orphanage on an honor system and does not question desperate mothers. Aziza panics when Mariam and Laila leave the orphanage, and Laila bursts into tears.
For a while after, Rasheed humors Laila and walks the family to the orphanage to visit Aziza, but soon this wears off and Rasheed complains that his feet and legs ache from the walking. One day, he tells Laila that he will no longer take her to the orphanage. Laila says that she will go alone, and Rasheed warns her about the Taliban. Most of the time Laila cannot make it all the way to the orphanage because she ends up running into a Taliban member on the street. On the days that Laila does make it to the orphanage, she spends hours with Aziza talking about what she learned in class that week.
One afternoon in June 2001, Rasheed gives in to Laila’s requests and takes the entire family to visit the orphanage. As Aziza tells her family about tectonic plates, Laila responds...
(The entire section contains 538 words.)
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