Chapters 14-15 Summary

Mariam is surprised by the grief that overtakes her for a baby that she has never seen. She dreads going outside to see other women surrounded by many children whom they take for granted. Although she tries to comfort herself by thinking that someday she will have other children, Mariam cannot help but grieve for this child. Mariam begins to believe that she is being punished for disobeying Nana so many years ago. Rasheed’s mood and behavior also change after the loss of the child: in the evenings, Rasheed eats silently. Mariam asks him if he is angry with her, and Rasheed yells at Mariam to stop pestering him. Mariam thinks that they should have a proper burial for the child, but Rasheed thinks this is foolish and turns up the volume on the television. A few days later, Mariam digs a hole in the yard and buries a suede coat that Rasheed had bought for the baby. She says a prayer as she pats the dirt and closes her eyes.

A few years later in April 1978 (the year that Mariam turns 19), a large demonstration erupts in Kabul following the murder of Mir Akbar Khyber, a known communist. His supporters blame his murder on the government of President Daoud Khan, and the city buzzes with gossip about the incident. But Mariam does not understand, and she asks Rasheed what a communist is. He waves away her ignorance and tells her that she is like a child. Out of fear, Mariam tolerates Rasheed’s insults. Since she lost her first child, Mariam has lost six others, and Rasheed has grown more resentful toward her. Now Mariam’s days are filled with trying to find ways to not infuriate her husband.

At the end of April, Kabul roars from military planes zooming overhead and bombs exploding in the distance. Rasheed tries to get information via the radio, but all that will transmit is static. Then a man’s voice announces himself as a colonel in the Air Force and says that Daoud Khan’s regime is nearly defeated. A revolutionary council has taken over the government and the country will now be known as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. During the broadcast, Rasheed has sat down to eat dinner, and now he grimaces as he chews a rice ball. Mariam says that she boiled the rice for an extra five minutes, but Rasheed calls her a liar and storms out the door. He soon returns and forces her to chew a handful of pebbles. After he leaves, Mariam spits out the pebbles along with blood and fragments of two broken teeth.