Chapters 24-26 Summary
Last Updated on July 25, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 534
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 gunfire continues. Laila tries to convince herself that she has done the right thing. She tries to keep the memory of her and Tariq’s passion alive. Then Laila hears Babi calling her from the hallway—Mammy has finally agreed to leave Kabul. Babi says that they should only take the items that are absolutely necessary. The family gathers all the items in the household that they will sell. Laila is surprised that Mammy wishes to sell her wedding dress, but Laila knows that Babi has the most difficult task as he tries to choose a few books to take along from his entire library.
On the third morning of their packing, the family waits for two taxis to arrive to take their belongings to the pawn shop. Suddenly, Laila hears a whistling, then a roar, and a flash of white takes over her sight. The ground lurches and something slams into Laila from behind. The next thing Laila sees are shapes moving about and a fluorescent light shining from the ceiling. She fades in and out of consciousness.