Study Guide: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - BookNotes

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CHAPTER 51: April 2003


The drought has ended in Afghanistan. It snowed tremendously the winter before and now it has been raining for days. The Kabul River is flowing once again and Titanic City is washed away. The children play in the rain puddles and Zalmai has the drops flowing off his shaved head, something he had asked for in imitation of Tariq who is now in charge of the babaloo prayers. Her daughter is ten and her son is almost six. They celebrate Aziza’s birthday at the cinema where, at last, Titanic is openly screened for the people of Kabul.

Now every morning, Aziza wakes Laila up at five for morning namaz. Saying the prayers is Aziza’s way of clinging to Mariam who had taught them to her. It is a way to keep time from snatching away Mariam from the garden of her memories, like a weed pulled out by its root. Tariq has found work as a French NGO that fits land mine survivors and amputees with prosthetic limbs. Laila also notices that Aziza’s stutter is going away.

That morning, she and the children gather all ther supplies for school and hed out for the day. As she walks along, Laila is amazed at the changes that have taken place in the city and wishes tha Mammay and Babi could be there to see it. But just as for Mariam, for them, Kabul’s penance has arrived too late. It upsets her too that the warlords have been allowed back into Kabul. They live in posh home and have been appointed to government positions. But Laila decides she will not be crippled by resentment. What good is it? Seems to be the words she hears from Mariam who still visits Laila in her dreams and who is never more than a breath or two below her consciousness. They arrive at school, which turns out to be the orphanage where Rasheed had sent Aziza. When the children spot Laila, they come running. They live in much better surroundings thanks to Tariq and Zaman making repairs and building the classroom. There are four lines of poetry Zaman has painted as an answer to those who grumble and complain about the lack of funds and the slow bureaucracy:

Joseph shall return to Canaan, grieve not. Hovels shall return to rose gardens, grieve not. If a flood should arrive, to drown all that’s alive, Noah is your guide in the typhoon’s eye, grieve not.

Laila makes her way to the curtainless windows and lets the sunlight fall on her cheeks and eyelids. She begins to think of Mariam and how they don’t know where the Taliban buried her. Now she knows it doesn’t matter. Mariam is never very far away. She is mostly in Laila’s own heart, where she shines with a bursting radiance of a thousand suns. Her own children come up to her when she stays quiet for so long and say, “Mammy?” She is about to speak when she feels a wave go though her. She waits, but there is nothing more. Then, she tells the children that she is all right, knowing the wave is the movement of the new baby she is carrying. They had sat at the table the night before debating names for the new baby. Tariq likes Mohammad while Zalmai likes Clark because he has just seen Superman. Aziza likes Aman while Laila herself likes Omar. “But the game involves only male names, because if it’s a girl, Laila has already named her.”

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