After Nana’s funeral, Jalil brings Mariam back to the kolba to gather her things. Mullah Faizullah arrives and tries to comfort her with words from the Koran. But Mariam continues to hear Nana’s voice begging her not to go, and she can’t stop crying.
Even the verses from the Koran, which have so often reassured Mariam, are insufficient against the enormous guilt and responsibility she feels.
Jalil tells Mariam she can stay in his house, but now Mariam sees through his façade and understands his insincerity. She keeps her head down as she walks into the opulent, grand house, and into the guest room, where she lies down on the bed and shuts her eyes. Mariam stays in her room for the most part, eating alone rather than with the family. She knows she doesn’t belong here, but wonders where she does belong.
An offer that would have thrilled Mariam so recently no longer means anything to her. As confident as she once was that she belonged with Jalil’s family, she is now just as confident of the opposite—yet now, devastatingly, she has nowhere else to go.
On Mariam’s second day, Niloufar, another of Jalil’s daughters, comes into the room to get her gramophone. She plays a song for Mariam and shows her how she can do a headstand. Niloufar says her mother told her Mariam isn’t really her sister, and that a jinn made Mariam’s mother kill herself. Mariam tells her to stop the gramophone. Bibi jo also comes to see Mariam, but Mariam can only cry. That night, she hears voices arguing from downstairs.
Even though Niloufar means well, a harmless child whom Mariam would once have loved to befriend, her babbling reveals the power of notions like sister, family, and guilt. Mariam is not completely alone—Bibi jo is one remnant of her earlier life—but the elderly woman cannot provide what Mariam really needs.
The next day, Mullah Faizullah comes to visit Mariam. She admits that she keeps thinking of what Nana said to her before she left. Mullah Faizullah assures her that Nana was always troubled and unhappy, and that none of this was Mariam’s fault. She wants to believe him but cannot.
Nana’s “jinn” has been the best way for the villagers to explain her mysterious severe mental ailments. But Mariam cannot bring herself to point to a sickness as the result of her mother’s death; she feels the responsibility for it herself.
The next week, Niloufar’s mother Afsoon tells Mariam she needs to come downstairs—it’s important that they talk to her.
Mariam’s belief that she does not belong with Jalil’s family is about to be vindicated.