Mariam is looking after Zalmai upstairs, and he’s in a troublemaking mood. He had looked at Tariq suspiciously, and soon descends into a crying tantrum, until Laila has to come upstairs to hold and rock him.
In Zalmai’s well-ordered, well-loved life, comprising his parents, aunt, and sister, there is no place for another adult man.
Mariam realizes why the doorman at the Intercontinental looked so familiar that day—she remembered him from nine years earlier. Questions race through her head, as she wonders which of them had plotted the lie with all its details, and how much Rasheed had paid Abdul Sharif to tell Laila the story of Tariq’s death.
As Laila simply embraces Tariq’s presence, Mariam is left to piece together the mystery. Abdul Sharif’s tale had been remarkably and brutally specific, meant to wound Laila as much as possible while ensuring that her love for Tariq would not become a threat.