Chapters 45-47 Summary
Rasheed orders Zalmai to go upstairs, and the boy has a stricken look on his face. The sound of a brass buckle at the end of a belt follows Rasheed down the steps. Mariam tries to block his path. He shoves her out of the way and attacks Laila with such speed that she has no time to even try to get out of the way. Mariam screams for Rasheed to stop, and Laila runs around the room in an attempt to dodge the blows. Rasheed catches her and slams her against the wall, striking her over and over with the belt. Mariam claws at Rasheed, and he releases Laila and turns on her. Mariam looks into his eyes and thinks about the fact that she gave her entire youth to this man. He drops the belt and says that some things must be done with bare hands. Mariam sees Laila pick up something, Laila smashes a drinking glass on Rasheed’s head. Mariam leaves the room and goes outside to grab a shovel. When she returns, Rasheed is choking Laila, so Mariam slams the shovel across Rasheed’s temple. He looks at the blood and sneers at her, and again she brings down the shovel with all her strength, killing Rasheed. Laila regains her senses and realizes what Mariam has done. Neither woman speaks for some time. Laila finally says that they need to move the body before Zalmai sees what has happened. They wrap the body in a bedsheet and hide it behind a workbench in the toolshed.
The women know that they must run away and leave the city behind. They imagine going to a remote village where they can disown their pasts and start a new life. Mariam sends Laila upstairs to tend to Zalmai; she finds him curled up on Rasheed’s side of the bed. He asks for his father so they can say prayers together, and Laila tells her son that Baba has gone away. Laila wonders how many more times she will be forced to tell this lie. Back downstairs, Mariam tells Laila that she should go see Aziza at the orphanage. Laila realizes that Mariam does not intend to run away with her and the children. Mariam explains that the authorities will look for someone to blame, and she plans to...
(The entire section is 586 words.)