Chapters 6-7 Summary

Mullah Faizullah recites prayers at Nana’s gravesite, and she is buried in the cemetery in Gul Daman. Jalil walks Mariam back to the kolba, and while the villagers watch, he makes a spectacle of gathering Mariam’s belongings and tending to her needs. Mariam asks for Mullah Faizullah, and when he enters the kolba, she cries. He tries to comfort her by telling her that God has a reason for every hard trial in life, but all Mariam can hear are her mother’s words, “I’ll die if you go.”

In the backseat of the car on the way to Herat, Jalil tells Mariam that he has arranged for her to stay in his home. Now, Mariam hears Jalil with her mother’s ears, and she can sense the insincerity of his words. Once at the house, Jalil takes Mariam to a bedroom that is normally used for guests. Over the next few days, Mariam only leaves the bedroom to use the bathroom. One of the housemaids brings her food, but Mariam leaves most of it uneaten. From the window, Mariam watches the daily routines of the household and wonders where she belongs.

On the second day of Mariam’s stay, one of Jalil’s daughters, Niloufar, comes to the room to get the gramophone. She says that her mother told her that Mariam is not really one of her sisters and that a jinn caused Mariam’s mother to hang herself. The next day, Mullah Faizullah visits Mariam and tells her that her mother’s death was not her fault.

A week later, Afsoon, one of Jalil’s wives, comes to Mariam’s room and tells her that the family needs to speak with her. Over a long, dark brown table, Jalil’s three wives question Mariam’s well-being, and then Khadija tells Mariam that they have found her a suitor. Rasheed, a Pashtun shoemaker who lives in the Deh-Mazang district in Kabul, has agreed to marry Mariam. But he is much older than Mariam, so she does not want to agree to the union and begs Jalil not to force her into the marriage. The wives tell Mariam that she cannot live in their home forever. Mariam says that she will go to live with Mullah Faizullah. He, however, is old and weak, and Mariam pictures her life in Kabul, a strange, far-away land. Again, she asks Jalil to go against his wives, but Jalil has already told Rasheed that he can marry Mariam: the wedding is scheduled for the next morning. When Jalil finally speaks, his tone is as if he were the one being tortured. The wives try to reassure Mariam of a happy fate, but Mariam can only stare down at the table. Afsoon takes Mariam back to her room and locks the door behind her.