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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Author:Khaled Hosseini
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub, azw3
Tags: Contemporary
ISBN: 9781594489501
Publisher: Penguin Group
Published: 2007-05-21T10:00:00+00:00


31.

Mariam

In the daytime, the girl was no more than a creaking bedspring, a patter of footsteps overhead. She was water splashing in the bathroom, or a teaspoon clinking against glass in the bedroom upstairs. Occasionally, there were sightings: a blur of billowing dress in the periphery of Mariam’s vision, scurrying up the steps, arms folded across the chest, sandals slapping the heels.

But it was inevitable that they would run into each other. Mariam passed the girl on the stairs, in the narrow hallway, in the kitchen, or by the door as she was coming in from the yard. When they met like this, an awkward tension rushed into the space between them. The girl gathered her skirt and breathed out a word or two of apology, and, as she hurried past, Mariam would chance a sidelong glance and catch a blush. Sometimes she could smell Rasheed on her. She could smell his sweat on the girl’s skin, his tobacco, his appetite. Sex, mercifully, was a closed chapter in her own life. It had been for some time, and now even the thought of those laborious sessions of lying beneath Rasheed made Mariam queasy in the gut.

At night, however, this mutually orchestrated dance of avoidance between her and the girl was not possible. Rasheed said they were a family. He insisted they were, and families had to eat together, he said.

“What is this?” he said, his fingers working the meat off a bone—the spoon-and-fork charade was abandoned a week after he married the girl. “Have I married a pair of statues? Go on, Mariam, gap bezan, say something to her. Where are your manners?”

Sucking marrow from a bone, he said to the girl, “But you mustn’t blame her. She is quiet. A blessing, really, because, wallah, if a person hasn’t got much to say she might as well be stingy with words. We are city people, you and I, but she is dehati. A village girl. Not even a village girl. No. She grew up in a kolba made of mud outside the village. Her father put her there. Have you told her, Mariam, have you told her that you are a harami? Well, she is. But she is not without qualities, all things considered. You will see for yourself, Laila jan. She is sturdy, for one thing, a good worker, and without pretensions. I’ll say it this way: If she were a car, she would be a Volga.”

Mariam was a thirty-three-year-old woman now, but that word, harami, still had sting. Hearing it still made her feel like she was a pest, a cockroach. She remembered Nana pulling her wrists. You are a clumsy little harami. This is my reward for everything I’ve endured. An heirloom-breaking clumsy little harami.

“You,” Rasheed said to the girl, “you, on the other hand, would be a Benz. A brand-new, first-class, shiny Benz. Wah wah. But. But.” He raised one greasy index finger. “One must take certain . . . cares . . . with a Benz.



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