And the Mountains Echoed

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The beautiful, troubled wife of Mr. Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs. Nila Wahdati is an unpredictable, romantic, and undeniably talented woman. When she first appears in the early chapters of the novel, she’s desperate to have a child—and knows she’ll never succeed with her husband, a closeted homosexual. When Nabi arranges for Mrs. Wahdati to adopt Pari as her own child, Mrs. Wahdati moves to Paris with Pari, where she begins her a career as a poet, and begins to resent her new daughter. In the end, Mrs. Wahdati seems to regret her decision to adopt Pari, and views her life as a failure in almost every way. She commits suicide when Pari is a young woman.

Mrs. Nila Wahdati Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Nila Wahdati or refer to Mrs. Nila Wahdati . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of And the Mountains Echoed published in 2014.
Chapter 2 Quotes

She hunkered down beside him now, her glasses pushed up on her hair. There was wetness in her eyes too, and when she dabbed at them with the handkerchief, it came away with black smudges. “I don’t blame you if you hate me. It’s your right. But—and I don’t expect you to understand, not now—this is for the best. It really is, Abdullah. It’s for the best. One day you’ll see.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Nila Wahdati (speaker), Abdullah , Pari Wahdati
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Abdullah meets Nila, the young wealthy woman who's asked to adopt Pari from Abdullah's family. Nila is heartbroken to meet Abdullah--the brother from whom Nila is going to "steal" Pari. Nila, clearly overcome with guilt, tells Abdullah that "this" is for the best. Although Abdullah doesn't realize it right away, Nila is referring to Pari's adoption: Nila believes that by adopting Pari, Pari will get a great education, a loving family, and a stable life that Abdullah's family simply can't match.

Nila's insistence that her actions are for the best convince no one--not even Nila herself. Deep down, Nila knows that she's not acting out of magnanimity--she just wants a child of her own. Her final words to Abdullah, "one day you'll see," foreshadow the book's conclusion in which, decades later, Abdullah and Pari are reunited with one another.

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Now, I knew from the start that the marriage was an unhappy one. Rarely did I see a tender look pass between the couple or hear an affectionate word uttered. They were two people occupying the same house whose paths rarely seemed to intersect at all.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Mr. Suleiman Wahdati , Mrs. Nila Wahdati
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Nabi, who's been hired to work as a chauffeur at the Wahdati house, talks about the dynamic between Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati. Right away, it's apparent to him that the happy couple isn't so happy. It's interesting that Nabi describes his employers as people whose paths never intersect, considering that And the Mountains Echoed is a book that's all about paths intersecting. Paradoxically, two people who are a "family" and live in the same house--i.e., people whose lives should be interconnected on every level--can have less of an influence on one another than two strangers. As we'll see, a person on another side of the world can have an enormous influence over another person, even if they're not related and have never met before.

Then she pulled close and embraced me, her cheek against mine. My nose filled with the scent of her hair, her perfume. “It was you, Nabi,” she said in my ear. “It was always you. Didn’t you know?”

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Mrs. Nila Wahdati (speaker)
Page Number: 115-116
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nabi watches as Mrs. Nila Wahdati, the wife of Nabi's employer, Mr. Wahdati, packs her bags and prepares to leave the house forever. Mrs. Wahdat tells Nabi, "It was you," words which we won't understand for some time.

As it turns out, Mrs. Wahdati is talking about Mr. Wahdati's closeted homosexual desire for Nabi. For years, Mr. Wahdati has been in love with Nabi, even though he's been too frightened and repressed to tell Nabi the truth. Mrs. Wahdati has known about her husband's attraction for a long time--but she's never done anything about it until now. Here, Mrs. Wahdati's words to Nabi seem both pitying and angry--she doesn't quite give away her husband's secret, but she comes close. The passage also takes on another layer of tragic irony, given that Nabi is immensely attracted to Mrs. Wahdati, but not her husband.

Chapter 6 Quotes

Well, children are never everything you’d hoped for.

Related Characters: Mrs. Nila Wahdati (speaker), Pari Wahdati
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Nila Wahdati--who becomes a great poet after leaving her husband, Mr. Wahdati--conducts an interview with a poetry magazine. In the interview, Nila talks about her career and her family, arriving at the depressing conclusion that children are always something of a disappointment.

As we know, Nila had adopted Pari years ago, hoping that having a child would bring her happiness and contentment. As the quotation makes very clear, being a mother hasn't brought Nila the happiness she'd assumed it would--it seems to have made her disappointed and melancholy (and surely quotes like this make Pari herself feel like she's not very loved or valuable). The passage conveys the unpredictability of life, and the unintended consequences of a seemingly simple action. Nila thought that adopting Pari would make both of them happier--and it doesn't, yet the adoption has hundreds of other unforeseen consequences (some of which we've seen, and will continue to see, in the book).

Well, it’s hardly a mystery, mon amour, Maman had said. You miss your father. He is gone from your life. It’s natural that you should feel this way. Of course that’s what it is. Come here. Give Maman a kiss. Her mother’s answer had been perfectly reasonable but also unsatisfactory. Pari did believe that she would feel more whole if her father was still living, if he were here with her. But she also remembered feeling this way even as a child, living with both her parents at the big house in Kabul.

Related Characters: Mrs. Nila Wahdati (speaker), Pari Wahdati
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're told that Pari--now living with her adopted mother in Paris--feels a vague sense of unhappiness. Pari has no idea that Nila isn't her biological mother--as far as she's concerned, she's a Wahdati, and always has been. And yet Nila feels a strange, deep unhappiness, which she's unable to put into words. Nila claims that Pari's dissatisfaction comes from missing her father, i.e., Mr. Wahdati. But as readers recognize, Pari is clearly missing her beloved brother Abdullah, whom she now no longer consciously remembers. Like Baba Ayub in the first chapter of the book, Pari can remember the emotional fallout of leaving her family, but not the specific incident that prompted the fallout.

She wonders often what sort of grandmother Maman would have made. Especially with Thierry. Intuitively, Pari thinks Maman would have proved helpful with him. She might have seen something of herself in him.

Related Characters: Pari Wahdati (speaker), Mrs. Nila Wahdati , Thierry
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

In the end of Chapter 6, Pari is an elderly woman with children. One of these children, Thierry, is quiet and taciturn. Pari doesn't know how to handle Thierry at all--their personalities aren't alike in the slightest. Sadly, Pari thinks, Thierry would probably have gotten along well with Nila Wahdati, who committed suicide years before.

Although Pari herself can't appreciate the full irony of the situation, we can. Nila adopted Pari in the hopes of forming an emotional connection to her new child. When Nila quickly realized that no such connection existed or would ever exist, she became deeply depressed. Had Nila lived a little longer, she might well have found the emotional connection she'd always looked for--between herself and her grandson, Thierry.

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Mrs. Nila Wahdati Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Nila Wahdati appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
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...offers Pari and Abdullah cookies, which they both eagerly accept. This charms Mr. Wahdati’s wife, Mrs. Wahdati , who is sitting in the living room. Abdullah looks around the living room, and... (full context)
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...Suleiman seems to find this irritating, and he tells her to be quiet, calling her Nila. Nila offers to take Pari and Abdullah to the local bazaar while Father proceeds with... (full context)
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Nabi drives Pari, Mrs. Wahdati , and Abdullah to the bazaar. As they drive, Abdullah sees schoolchildren, about his age,... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...generation, he’s unsure of his exact age). After some thought, he decides to begin with Nila Wahdati, since his story also ends with this woman. (full context)
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The author met Mrs. Wahdati in 1949, the same year during which she married Mr. Wahdati. At the time, the... (full context)
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Nabi explains that he’ll refer to Mrs. Wahdati as Nila from hereon out. He notices almost immediately that Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati have an unhappy... (full context)
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Encouraged, Nabi asks to tell Nila another story, and Nila invites him to do so. Nabi explains that there is an... (full context)
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In the coming months, Nabi becomes increasingly fascinated with Nila. She is beautiful, and also highly intelligent and energetic. After a while, Nabi and Nila... (full context)
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One day, Nila tells Nabi that she finds Mr. Wahdati aloof and arrogant. When Nabi tries to protest,... (full context)
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In the fall of 1950, Nila summons Nabi and asks him to take her to the town of Shadbagh. Nabi reluctantly... (full context)
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...whatever reason, he explains, the two siblings were extremely close. During her visit to Shadbagh, Nila finds Pari adorable. Then, for no discernible reason, she bursts into tears. She asks Nabi... (full context)
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When Nila returns to her home in Kabul, she goes to her room and doesn’t come out... (full context)
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At parties, Nila likes to recite poetry. Nabi secretly enjoys these recitals, both because he loves the sound... (full context)
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A few weeks after Nila’s party, Nabi has a “dangerous” idea. He realizes that Nila is unable to bear children,... (full context)
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...that he can make a great deal of money. Nabi next shares his idea with Nila, who passes it on to Mr. Wahdati. They agree that the idea is worth trying.... (full context)
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...uncle, and merely as another servant. In contrast, Pari spends more and more time with Nila. Nila loves playing games and talking with Pari, and eventually, both Nila and Pari cease... (full context)
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In the spring of 1955, Nabi continues, his life changed forever. One day, Nila screams for Nabi, who rushes to her room and finds her standing over Mr. Wahdati.... (full context)
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...Mr. Wahdati, but Mr. Wahdati seems utterly indifferent to their words. In the following weeks, Nila becomes the head of her household. Nabi comments that Nila was horrible in this role.... (full context)
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As the months drag on, Nila and Pari remain in Paris, and Nabi stays in Kabul, taking care of Mr. Wahdati,... (full context)
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...has been drawing him as he works, for years. This, Nabi decides, must be what Nila meant when she said, “It was always you.” Nabi isn’t sure what to make of... (full context)
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...as he’d done before Mr. Wahdati’s stroke. As he drives, Nabi finds himself thinking of Nila. (full context)
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...greatly. Amra Ademovic, who’s been researching the former occupants of the house, tells Nabi that Nila is long since dead: she killed herself in 1974. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...elderly man (whom we know to be Nabi). Together Timur, Markos, Nabi, and Idris discuss Nila Wahdati. Markos mentions that Nila became a successful, renowned poet before she killed herself. Timur... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...The note explains that the journal features an interview with a young, promising poet named Nila Wahdati. The editor is sad to say that though Nila gives a wonderful interview, she... (full context)
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We cut to another excerpt from Parallaxe, Winter 1974. In the issue, the editor asks Nila Wahdati about her heritage. He describes Nila as a strikingly beautiful woman, who does not... (full context)
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...professor at the Sorbonne. Pari quickly developed a crush on him. Julien also bonded with Nila over discussions of jazz. Pari noticed Nila flirting with Julien, and felt jealous of her... (full context)
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...of resemblance between herself and her parents—whom she believes to be Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati. Nila often tells Pari that Pari was lonely because she wasn’t living with her father—whom Pari... (full context)
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Back in 1974, Pari and Nila are leaving the hospital. Nila mentions that she has an interview the next day with... (full context)
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We cut to another excerpt from Nila’s interview in the poetry magazine Parallaxe. Nila explains that her daughter studies mathematics at the... (full context)
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After leaving the hospital, Pari drives Nila back to her apartment, which Pari hasn’t seen in years. As she drives, she notices... (full context)
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...She remembers her old family cook, a man named Nabi. The conversation moves abruptly to Nila. Pari explains that Nila has supported herself by owning a bookstore, but she is now... (full context)
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In Parallaxe, the editor proceeds with his interview with Nila. Nila explains that her parents divorced in 1939, when she was only 10 years old.... (full context)
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The Parallaxe editor continues talking with Nila. She explains that she slipped and hurt her head the previous night, which is why... (full context)
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...letter. The letter bears a note from Julien, explaining that it was first sent to Nila, and then to Collette’s former apartment, and then to Julien. Julien adds that Pari should... (full context)
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...if her father was in love with Nabi, the old chauffeur and cook, or if Nila is only being dramatic. She wonders if it’s possible that someone could endure as much... (full context)
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...lived in Vietnam, and was married to a Vietnamese woman very briefly. She guesses that Nila would have been a good grandmother to Thierry, had she lived long enough. (full context)
Chapter 9
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...was younger—only four years old. Now, she barely remembers her life before being adopted by Mrs. Wahdati . (full context)