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HOME > Classical Novels > A Thousand Splendid Suns > Chapter 9.
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Chapter 9.
It was early evening the following day by the time theyarrived at Rasheed's house.
"We're in Deh-Mazang," he said. They were outside, on thesidewalk. He had her suitcase in one hand and was unlockingthe wooden front gate with the other. "In the south and westpart of the city. The zoo is nearby, and the university too."Mariam nodded. Already she had learned that, though shecould understand him, she had to pay close attention when hespoke. She was unaccustomed to the Kabuli dialect of his Farsi,and to the underlying layer of Pashto accent, the language ofhis native Kandahar. He, on the other hand, seemed to haveno trouble understanding her Herati Farsi.
Mariam quickly surveyed the narrow, unpaved road alongwhich Rasheed's house was situated. The houses on this roadwere crowded together and shared common walls, with small,walled yards in front buffering them from the street. Most ofthe homes had flat roofs and were made of burned brick,some of mud the same dusty color as the mountains thatringed the city. Gutters separated the sidewalk from the roadon both sides and flowed with muddy water. Mariam saw smallmounds of flyblown garbage littering the street here and there.
Rasheed's house had two stories. Mariam could see that it hadonce been blue.
When Rasheed opened the front gate, Mariam found herselfin a small, unkempt yard where yellow grass struggled up inthin patches. Mariam saw an outhouse on the right, in a sideyard, and, on the left, a well with a hand pump, a row ofdying saplings. Near the well was a toolshed, and a bicycleleaning against the wall.
"Your father told me you like to fish," Rasheed said as theywere crossing the yard to the house. There was no backyard,Mariam saw. "There are valleys north of here. Rivers with lotsoffish. Maybe I'll take you someday."He unlocked the front door and let her into the house.
Rasheed's house was much smaller than Jalil's, but, comparedto Mariam and Nana'skolba, it was a mansion. There was ahallway, a living room downstairs, and a kitchen in which heshowed her pots and pans and a pressure cooker and akeroseneLshiop. The living room had a pistachio green leathercouch. It had a rip down its side that had been clumsily sewntogether. The walls were bare. There was a table, two cane-seatchairs, two folding chairs, and, in the corner, a black, cast-ironstove.
Mariam stood in the middle of the living room, lookingaround. At thekolba, she could touch the ceiling with herfingertips. She could lie in her cot and tell the time of day bythe angle of sunlight pouring through the window. She knewhow far her door would open before its hinges creaked. Sheknew every splinter and crack in each of the thirty woodenfloorboards. Now all those familiar things were gone. Nana wasdead, and she was here, in a strange city, separated from thelife she'd known by valleys and chains of snow-cappedmountains and entire deserts. She was in a stranger's house,with all its different rooms and its smell of cigarette smoke,with its unfamiliar cupboards full of unfamiliar utensils, itsheavy, dark green curtains, and a ceiling she knew she couldnot reach. The space of it suffocated Mariam. Pangs of longingbore into her, for Nana, for Mullah Fa............
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