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HOME > Classical Novels > A Thousand Splendid Suns > Chapter 38.
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Chapter 38.
LailaJLaila was glad, when the Taliban went to work, that Babiwasn't around to witness it. It would have crippled him.
Men wielding pickaxes swarmed the dilapidated Kabul Museumand smashed pre-Islamic statues to rubble-that is, those thathadn't already been looted by the Mujahideen. The universitywas shut down and its students sent home. Paintings wereripped from walls, shredded with blades. Television screens werekicked in. Books, except the Koran, were burned in heaps, thestores that sold them closed down. The poems of Khalili,Pajwak, Ansari, Haji Dehqan, Ashraqi, Beytaab, Hafez, Jami,Nizami, Rumi, Khayyam, Beydel, and more went up in smoke.
Laila heard of men being dragged from the streets, accused ofskippingnamaz, and shoved into mosques. She learned thatMarco Polo Restaurant, near Chicken Street, had been turnedinto an interrogation center. Sometimes screaming was heardfrom behind its black-painted windows. Everywhere, the BeardPatrol roamed the streets in Toyota trucks on the lookout forclean-shaven faces to bloody.
They shut down the cinemas too. Cinema Park. Ariana. Aryub.
Projection rooms were ransacked and reels of films set to fire.
Laila remembered all the times she and Tariq had sat in thosetheaters and watched Hindi films, all those melodramatic tales oflovers separated by some tragic turn of fate, one adrift in somefaraway land, the other forced into marriage, the weeping, thesinging in fields of marigolds, the longing for reunions. Sheremembered how Tariq would laugh at her for crying at thosefilms.
"I wonder what they've done to my father's cinema," Mariamsaid to her one day. "If it's still there, that is. Or if he stillowns it."Kharabat, Kabul's ancient music ghetto, was silenced. Musicianswere beaten and imprisoned, theirrubab%?iamboura%? andharmoniums trampled upon. The Taliban went to the grave ofTariq's favorite singer, Ahmad Zahir, and fired bullets into it.
"He's been dead for almost twenty years," Laila said toMariam. "Isn't dying once enough?"* * *Rasheed wasnt bothered much by the Taliban. All he had todo was grow a beard, which he did, and visit the mosque,which he also did. Rasheed regarded the Taliban with aforgiving, affectionate kind of bemusement, as one might regardan erratic cousin prone to unpredictable acts of hilarity andscandal.
Every Wednesday night, Rasheed listened to the VoiceofShari'a when the Taliban would announce the names of thosescheduled for punishment. Then, on Fridays, he went to GhaziStadium, bought a Pepsi, and watched the spectacle. In bed, hemade Laila listen as he described with a queer sort ofexhilaration the hands he'd seen severed, the lashings, thehangings, the beheadings.
"I saw a man today slit the throat of his brother's murderer,"he said one night, blowing halos of smoke.
"They're savages," Laila said.
"You think?" he said "Compared to what? The Soviets killed amillion people. Do you know how many people the Mujahideenkilled in Kabul alone these last four years? Fifty thousandFiftythousand! Is it so insensible, by comparison, to chop the handsoff a few thieves? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. It's in ............
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