That year, 1974, Ramadan comes in the fall. The entire city falls into a lull, and the streets become free of traffic and chatter. Most people fast during the day and eat modest meals at sunset. Mariam enjoys the communal experience of the fast, but Rasheed on most days does not observe. On the days that he does observe the fast, hunger makes him moody and irritable, and he unleashes his temper on Mariam. She is happy when Ramadan ends.
Mariam thinks of her childhood and remembers the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebration that follows Ramadan. Her father, Jalil, would come to the kolba bearing gifts before excusing himself and heading back over the stream. Nana would say that he was off to visit his real family. On that day, Mullah Faizullah would come to the kolba also and bring chocolates, boiled eggs, and cookies for Mariam. Even though she liked the treats, Mariam felt little joy; the Eid celebration was meant to be celebrated by families, and Mariam could only think of the high spirits among Jalil’s family in Herat. Her bad mood would only lift once the celebration passed.
Now, after Ramadan, Rasheed and Mariam walk the streets of Kabul, and Mariam is amazed at the liveliness of the city. Mariam sees Fariba, who waves and calls out to her. Rasheed asks her if she knows Fariba, and Mariam denies the acquaintance. Rasheed tells her to stay away from Fariba because she is a “nosy gossiper.” Then Rasheed and Mariam go to Shar-e-Nau and watch the children play in the park. Festive lanterns and women selling sweets add to the celebration. Rasheed takes Mariam to see the fireworks. As she watches, Mariam misses sitting outside with Mullah Faizullah watching the fireworks explode in the distance over Herat. She also misses her mother and wishes she were still alive to see it all.
Eid visitors arrive at the house; they are all men and friends of Rasheed. Mariam goes upstairs and closes her door; she is only permitted to return once the men leave. Mariam is not angry; she feels flattered by Rasheed’s desire to protect the sanctity of their marriage. On the third day of Eid, Rasheed leaves the house to visit friends. Having the house to herself, Mariam goes into Rasheed’s bedroom and looks through...
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