Chapters 24-26 Summary
Laila cannot stand the sound of the whistling of the bombs; she hates the uncertain time between the start of the whistling and the destruction upon impact. She fears that Tariq will be hit by a stray rocket. All night, Laila sees flashes of light outside her window, and she cannot sleep. In the morning, the Mujahideen call a cease-fire to enter prayer, but once namaz is over, the fighting resumes. Massoud’s men are everywhere: in the streets, atop tanks, at intersections. Laila rarely goes out, and when she does, she is escorted by Tariq. One day, Tariq admits to Laila that he has bought a gun for protection—he has heard stories about women who were raped and mutilated in the street. Tariq has become Laila’s lifeline to the happenings in the city, and he reports events to her as he hears them. Nowhere is safe. Tariq tells Laila that he would kill to protect her. He leans over and kisses her, and Laila thinks that all Mammy’s warnings are immaterial.
In June 1992, heavy fighting cripples Kabul, and many bodies are found tied to trees. Babi pleads with Mammy to leave the city. Mammy thinks that Babi is betraying the country. Fearing the worst, Babi withdraws Laila from school and teaches her from home. But Laila continues to daydream about Tariq, making it difficult to pay attention to Babi’s lessons. The same month, Laila’s friend Giti is hit by a rocket, and at her fatiha, Laila releases the tears that she has kept inside.
In August of the same year, Tariq tells Laila that he and his family are leaving Kabul the next day for Pakistan. Almost everyone whom Laila knows has fled the city. Laila cries and slaps Tariq, but then she falls into his arms, and the two make love. Tariq begs Laila to leave with him and tells her that he wants to get married. And although the two profess their love, Laila resolves that she cannot leave her father behind because she is all he has left.
Heat oppresses Kabul, and...
(The entire section is 531 words.)