Rasheed and Mariam have taken Laila into their home, and as Laila slowly regains consciousness, she quietly tells Mariam that she cannot hear out of her left ear. For the first week, Laila sleeps much. Sometimes she cries out names in her sleep and weeps in agitation, kicking the blankets off the bed. Other times she vomits continually. When not upset, Laila simply stares and refuses to eat or move. Mariam asks Rasheed how long the girl will stay, and Rasheed tells her that Laila is in no condition to go anywhere else.
Rasheed tells Laila that it was he who found her in the rubble of what used to be her home. He also managed to save a few of Laila’s father’s books, but most of them were turned to ash in the explosion. Mariam thinks that Laila is lucky to have gotten out of the disaster with only minor injuries. Soon, Laila begins to eat more and come out of her shock, but sometimes her memories push her into withdrawal and nightmares. One day as Mariam is changing the sheets, Laila offers her a little piece of the story—it had been her father who was supposed to carry the boxes outside, not Laila. Laila should have died in the house with her mother. Mariam does not know what words she could possibly offer to ease Laila’s suffering and thus remains quiet.
A month later, a man named Abdul Sharif calls on Laila at Rasheed’s home to bring her news about Tariq. Abdul tells her that he was admitted to a hospital in Peshawar for a high fever and while there, he met Tariq. Abdul had listened carefully to the banter between nurses and patients and gathered that Tariq had been in a truck full of refugees headed for Peshawar when a rocket hit the truck—only six people survived the blast. Tariq had lost his other leg and had many internal injuries. Tariq was placed in the bed next to Abdul, so the two spoke often, and Abdul tells Laila that most often,...
(The entire section contains 528 words.)
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