Chapters 21-22 Summary
On his limited salary, Babi hires a driver and takes Laila and Tariq on a trip. They pass through varied landscapes of snowy peaks to dry deserts, and Laila imagines that this is the landscape of Afghanistan that was well known to her brothers.
After passing a few checkpoints, Babi points out Shahr-e-Zohak, The Red City, to Laila and Tariq and tells them about the history of Genghis Khan. Babi says that the history of Afghanistan is filled with stories of invasions. Shortly, the driver pulls over, and all get out of the taxi to explore the area. Two enormous Buddhas are chiseled into a rock cliff. Babi invites Laila and Tariq to climb up to the statues. Babi tells them that the area was once home to a Buddhist center until Islamic Arab rule began in the 9th century. Lining the cliff are many caves in which the monks used to live. When the three get to the top of the statue, they look out into the Bamiyan Valley, and Laila comments on how quiet it is. Babi tells her that he always remembers the peaceful nature of the place and that he has wanted her to experience it. Babi then tells Laila that he used to bring her mother to visit the place, but now Mammy is so broken by the death of Ahmad and Noor that she has lost the zest for life. Babi admits that he too is terribly upset by the death of his sons and that he misses them dearly. Laila rests her head on her father’s chest, and he then confesses that he often thinks of one day leaving Afghanistan for Pakistan or even America. He dreams of the better life that they might have away from Afghanistan. However, Laila knows that her mother would never be convinced to leave her homeland and that Babi would not leave without her. Then in April 1988, a treaty is signed in Geneva and the Soviets must leave Afghanistan. Mammy does not believe that communist occupation will end, and she gets back into bed.
(The entire section is 525 words.)