Chapters 8-9 Summary

On the morning of her wedding, Mariam is given a green dress and white trousers with a pair of sandals. She is taken into the room with the long, dark brown table and already seated are a couple of men and a mullah whom she does not know. Jalil pulls out a chair for Mariam, and he and his wives sit at the table. Nargis, one of Jalil’s wives, arranges a veil on Mariam’s head. When Rasheed enters the room, Mariam is looking at her hands, but she smells his overpowering scent of cigarette smoke combined with sweet cologne. She sneaks a glance and is much displeased by the immense size of the man: he is tall, and his belly is large. When the mullah asks Mariam if she accepts Rasheed as her husband, Mariam remains silent, and one of Jalil’s wives speaks in her place. But the mullah says that Mariam must answer herself, and Jalil pressures her to respond, “Yes.” The rings are exchanged, and the marriage contract is signed. As the couple head for the bus, Jalil tries to convince Mariam that Kabul is beautiful. Mariam stops him and tells him that she has known for a long time that he is ashamed of her. When Jalil attempts to make amends, Mariam tells him to never visit her because she will not see him as her guest. As the bus pulls away, Mariam does not look back at Jalil.

Mariam and Rasheed arrive in Deh-Mazang the following evening, and Mariam is not impressed by the crowded houses that line the streets and the gutters filled with muddy water. Inside their own gate, Mariam takes note of the small, unkempt yard which is home to a few dying saplings. The house itself is small, and the walls are bare. The rooms in the house are sparsely furnished with secondhand furniture, and everything reeks of cigarette smoke. The unfamiliar place causes Mariam to cry, and Rasheed is wholly unsympathetic, saying that he has no patience for the sound of a woman crying. He takes her upstairs to her bedroom—the couple will sleep separately because Rasheed has grown accustomed to sleeping alone. Secretly, Mariam is relieved and welcomes her privacy. On the windowsill, Rasheed has placed a basket of white tuberoses. Rasheed tells Mariam that she will like her new home. Then he leaves and closes the door behind him, leaving Mariam alone.