One night in July 2002, Laila and Tariq lie in bed and whisper about all the changes that have taken place back in Afghanistan. Coalition forces have driven the Taliban out of the major cities, and the country has an interim president. And although Laila likes their new life in Murree, the sense of restlessness from living away from their home has gotten to her, and she wants to go home. But first, Laila wants to visit Herat.
The children need some reassuring, but Tariq and Laila are able to get them to pack up and board the bus. On the way out of town, Laila recalls her father’s farewell ode to Kabul and feels confident that she has made the right decision to return to the city. War has ravaged the roads, and they must travel via Iran to get to Herat. They spend the night at the Muwaffaq Hotel, and the next morning, Laila takes a taxi to Mariam’s village, Gul Daman. Laila goes to the home of Mullah Faizullah and is greeted at the door by his son Hamza. At the mention of Mariam, Hamza’s face brightens, but his smile fades when Laila tells him that Mariam has passed away. Inside, Laila tells Hamza all that she knows about Mariam’s life, and Hamza says that his father was broken-hearted when Jalil gave Mariam away to Rasheed. Laila asks Hamza to take her to Mariam’s kolba.
The path is rough and uphill, and the two must stop to catch their breath. Hamza stops where the stream used to be and tells Laila to go on and take her time. The kolba is dim inside, and Laila wonders how Mariam and her mother spent fifteen years in such a place. Laila imagines Mariam’s face and sees the strong nature of her good friend. She says good-bye and returns to meet Hamza. Back at the house, Hamza gives Laila a box that Jalil gave Mullah Faizullah for Mariam. Inside,...
(The entire section contains 517 words.)
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