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HOME > Classical Novels > A Thousand Splendid Suns > Chapter 14.
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Chapter 14.
The grief kept surprising Mariam. All it took to unleash it washer thinking of the unfinished crib in the toolshed or the suedecoat in Rasheed's closet. The baby came to life then and shecould hear it, could hear its hungry grunts, its gurgles andjabbering- She felt it sniffing at her breasts. The grief washedover her, swept her up, tossed her upside down. Mariam wasdumbfounded that she could miss in such a crippling manner abeing she had never even seen.
Then there were days when the dreariness didn't seem quiteas unrelenting to Mariam. Days when the mere thought ofresuming the old patterns of her life did not seem soexhausting, when it did not take enormous efforts of will to getout of bed, to do her prayers, to do the wash, to make mealsfor Rasheed.
Mariam dreaded going outside. She was envious, suddenly, ofthe neighborhood women and their wealth of children. Somehad seven or eight and didn't understand how fortunate theywere, how blessed that their children had flourished in theirwombs, lived to squirm in their arms and take the milk fromtheir breasts. Children that they had not bled away with soapywater and the bodily filth of strangers down some bathhousedrain. Mariam resented them when she overheard themcomplaining about misbehaving sons and lazy daughters.
A voice inside her head tried to soothe her with well-intendedbut misguided consolation.
You 'll have others,Inshallah.You 're young. Surely you‘ll havemany other chances.
But Mariam's grief wasn't aimless or unspecific. Mariamgrieved forthis baby, this particular child, who had made her sohappy for a while-Some days, she believed that the baby hadbeen an undeserved blessing, that she was being punished forwhat she had done to Nana. Wasn't it true that she might aswell have slipped that noose around her mother's neck herself?
Treacherous daughters did not deserve to be mothers, and thiswas just punishment- She had fitful dreams, ofNma'sjinnsneaking into her room at night, burrowing its claws into herwomb, and stealing her baby. In these dreams, Nana cackledwith delight and vindication.
Other days, Mariam was besieged with anger. It wasRasheed's fault for his premature celebration. For his foolhardyfaith that she was carrying a boy. Naming the baby as he had.
Taking God's will for granted. His fault, for making her go tothe bathhouse. Something there, the steam, the dirty water, thesoap, something there had caused this to happen. No. NotRasheed.She was to blame. She became furious with herself forsleeping in the wrong position, for eating meals that were toospicy, for not eating enough fruit, for drinking too much tea.
It was God's fault, for taunting her as He had. For notgranting her what He had granted so many other women. Fordangling before her, tantalizingly, what He knew would give herthe greatest happiness, then pulling it away.
But it did no good, all this fault laying, all these harangues ofaccusations bouncing in her head. It waskojr, sacrilege, to thinkthese thoughts. Allah was not spiteful. He was not a petty God.
Mullah Faizullah's words whispered in her head:
Blessed is He in Whose hand is the kingdom, and He Whohas power over all things, Who created death and life that Hemay try you.
Ransacked with guilt, Mariam would kneel and pray forforgiveness for these thoughts.
* * *Meanwhile, a change had come over Rasheed ever since theday at the bathhouse. Most nights when he came home, hehardly talked anymore. H............
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