And the Mountains Echoed

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Uncle Nabi Character Analysis

The brother of Parwana and Masooma, Uncle Nabi is the main character in Chapter Four of And the Mountains Echoed. Because he works for the Wahdatis, he is instrumental in arranging the “sale” of Pari, which has huge ramifications for almost every character in the book. Beginning in the 1960s, Nabi becomes Mr. Wahdati’s servant, caretaker, and best friend. When Wahdati dies, Nabi inherits his employer’s property, which he then gives away to Dr. Markos Varvaris almost immediately. At the end of his life, Nabi makes another crucial decision: he reveals to Markos that Pari and Abdullah are brother and sister—a piece of information that sets in motion the events of the final chapter.

Uncle Nabi Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed

The And the Mountains Echoed quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Nabi or refer to Uncle Nabi . 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 4 Quotes

A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later. But I suppose I ought to begin this tale with the same thing that ends it.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker)
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Nabi--the man who first suggests that Pari go to live with the wealthy family in Kabul--explains the history of his employment with the family. Nabi begins his long letter by explaining that even if his story has no real beginning, it'll inevitably reach its conclusion.

Nabi's introduction is intriguing for a number of reasons. First, it mirrors the content of And the Mountains Echoed itself. In each of the nine stories in the book, we move a little bit forward, eventually reaching the inevitable conclusion: the reunion between Pari and Abdullah, decades after their separation. Nabi's explanation also suggests that stories are fundamentally about interconnection: lurking behind any story lie hundreds of others. We've already seen such a principle in action, as the first three stories in the book explain and in some ways support Nabi's.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other And the Mountains Echoed quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

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.

I said nothing even though he had it wrong. I was not joking that time. My staying was no longer for him. It had been at first. I had stayed initially because Suleiman needed me, because he was wholly dependent on me. I had run once before from someone who needed me, and the remorse I still feel I will take with me to the grave. I could not do it again. But slowly, imperceptibly, my reasons for staying changed. I cannot tell you when or how the change occurred, Mr. Markos, only that I was staying for me now. Suleiman said I should marry. But the fact is, I looked at my life and realized I already had what people sought in marriage. I had comfort, and companionship, and a home where I was always welcomed, loved, and needed. The physical urges I had as a man—and I still had them, of course, though less frequent and less pressing now that I was older—could still be managed, as I explained earlier. As for children, though I had always liked them I had never felt a tug of paternal impulse in myself.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Mr. Suleiman Wahdati , Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”)
Page Number: 126-127
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nabi explains why he stayed with Mr. Wahdati for so many years At first, Nabi stayed with Mr. Wahdati because of his guilt at having abandoned his niece many years before: he allowed Nila to adopt Pari without protest, and has regretted his decision for a long time. But as Nabi makes clear, he eventually comes to enjoy living with Mr. Wahdati for its own sake: he even thinks of his relationship to Mr. Wahdati as a kind of marriage, providing him with comfort and contentment.

The passage is strange, insofar as it suggests a kind of homoerotic attraction between Nabi and Mr. Wahdati, even though Nabi has previously maintained that he's not homosexual in any capacity. While it's certainly possible that Nabi actually does have some repressed gay feelings (or is somewhere else on the spectrum of sexuality), Hosseini suggests that Nabi feels a less erotic form of love for Mr. Wahdati, similar to love for a close sibling or a very good friend. And yet ultimately, there's no way to understand Nabi's relationship with Mr. Wahdati totally. In spite of the vast length of Nabi's letter, this kind of love is a mystery--another example of the various kinds of "families" the book presents us with.

As you can see enclosed in the envelope along with this letter is my will, in which I leave the house, the money, and my few belongings to her. I ask that you give her both this letter and the will. And please tell her, tell her that I cannot know the myriad consequences of what I set into motion. Tell her I took solace only in hope. Hope that perhaps, wherever she is now, she has found as much peace, grace, love, and happiness as this world allows.

Related Characters: Uncle Nabi (speaker), Pari Wahdati , Dr. Markos Varvaris (“Mr. Markos”)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Nabi bequeaths his house and possessions to Pari, the niece whom, years ago, Nabi allowed to be adopted by Nila Wahdati. Nabi has addressed his letter to Dr. Markos Varvaris, with the instructions that Markos must find Pari and tell her that her brother Abdullah is still alive.

Perhaps the key word in this passage is "consequences." It is Nabi who first puts the events of the book in motion by suggesting that Pari be sent to live with the Wahdati family. Nabi eventually comes to realize the core truth of the book--that the world is too complicated and interconnected for any one man to control. Nabi thinks that he's correcting a simple problem by sending Pari to live with the Wahdatis; in the end, though, he realizes that there's no such thing as a "simple" problem. Nabi ultimately embodies a cautious optimism about the universe: life is imperfect and unsatisfying, and yet he hopes that one day Pari and Abdullah will reunite and find the happiness and love they deserve.

Get the entire And the Mountains Echoed LitChart as a printable PDF.
And the mountains echoed.pdf.medium

Uncle Nabi Character Timeline in And the Mountains Echoed

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Nabi appears in And the Mountains Echoed. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
It is revealed that the children’s “Uncle Nabi” has found a job for Father—the job that Father, Abdullah, and Pari are riding out... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...Abdullah has never been there before , but he has heard about it from Uncle Nabi. When Abdullah first sees the city, it’s far louder and more energetic than anything he... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Father leads his children through Kabul, to a building where Uncle Nabi has been waiting for them. Nabi embraces Abdullah and Pari warmly, and leads them to... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Nabi leads everyone inside the house. Abdullah is immediately struck by the beautiful indoor garden, white... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Nabi drives Pari, Mrs. Wahdati, and Abdullah to the bazaar. As they drive, Abdullah sees schoolchildren,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...and time-consuming birth, Parwana was always a “problem child,” especially when compared with Masooma and Nabi, her older brother. Growing up, the children would often eat dinner at Saboor’s family’s house.... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Some time before 1949, Nabi drives to town from Kabul. He is one of the most successful people in his... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
During Nabi’s visit, he tells Parwana that the rumors are true: Saboor is looking for a new... (full context)
Chapter 4
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...Mr. Wahdati, however. His brother-in-law, Saboor, would praise him for his career success, calling him Nabi. By this point, the author (Nabi) had come to think of Mr. Wahdati as an... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
One day, Mr. Wahdati asks Nabi to drive him to a neighborhood of the city where Nabi has never driven before.... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
The night that Nabi drops Mr. Wahdati off at the beautiful woman’s house, Mr. Wahdati tells Nabi that he’s... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Nabi explains that he’ll refer to Mrs. Wahdati as Nila from hereon out. He notices almost... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Encouraged, Nabi asks to tell Nila another story, and Nila invites him to do so. Nabi explains... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
In the coming months, Nabi becomes increasingly fascinated with Nila. She is beautiful, and also highly intelligent and energetic. After... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
One day, Nila tells Nabi that she finds Mr. Wahdati aloof and arrogant. When Nabi tries to protest, she insists... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
In the fall of 1950, Nila summons Nabi and asks him to take her to the town of Shadbagh. Nabi reluctantly agrees, worrying... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Nabi stops for a moment to note the intimate connection between Abdullah and Pari, Saboor’s two... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...After four days of this, Nila’s father, an intimidating man, arrives at the house. Although Nabi can’t eavesdrop on their conversation, while he’s working outside he glimpses Nila’s father shouting at... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
At parties, Nila likes to recite poetry. Nabi secretly enjoys these recitals, both because he loves the sound of Nila’s voice and because... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
A few weeks after Nila’s party, Nabi has a “dangerous” idea. He realizes that Nila is unable to bear children, and thinks... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
After much agonizing, Saboor agrees to go along with Nabi’s idea, recognizing that he can make a great deal of money. Nabi next shares his... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...to her luxurious life with Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati. She came to stop thinking of Nabi as her uncle, and merely as another servant. In contrast, Pari spends more and more... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
In the spring of 1955, Nabi continues, his life changed forever. One day, Nila screams for Nabi, who rushes to her... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...indifferent to their words. In the following weeks, Nila becomes the head of her household. Nabi comments that Nila was horrible in this role. She was tasked with feeding her paralyzed... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
As the months drag on, Nila and Pari remain in Paris, and Nabi stays in Kabul, taking care of Mr. Wahdati, who’s confined to a wheelchair. Mr. Wahdati... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
One day, Nabi is cleaning Mr. Wahdati’s house when he notices an old box of Mr. Wahdati’s sketchbooks.... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
In the late 1950s, Nabi is still working for Mr. Wahdati. They spend their spare time playing cards and other... (full context)
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
One day, Nabi decides to take Mr. Wahdati for a “morning stroll” through the streets of Kabul. This... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
The year is 1968, and Nabi is still working for Mr. Wahdati. Wahdati’s mother has just passed away, and Nabi is... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...house sustains considerable damage from explosions. Soldiers sometimes try to loot the local houses, and Nabi isn’t always able to defend Wahdati’s property. Nevertheless, he continues to live, quite happily, as... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
By the year 2000, the Taliban have engulfed Kabul. Nabi carries on as Mr. Wahdati’s servant. In the spring of 2000, Nabi discovers Wahdati lying... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
After Mr. Wahdati’s death, Nabi discovers a note leaving him all of Wahdati’s property and wealth. Nabi is stunned, both... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Nabi’s fortunes change once again in 2002, when he hears the bell ring at his front... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Greece to help sick Afghan children. He explains that he needs a place to stay. Nabi, delighted to have company, tells Markos that he can stay at this house for free... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
Nabi brings the letter to a close by saying that he doesn’t have long to live.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...in the wing of a vast Afghan hospital, speaking to Idris and Timur (two characters Nabi mentioned in the previous chapter). Idris has just returned to Kabul, though it’s not clear... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...Markos, who introduces them to the owner, an elderly man (whom we know to be Nabi). Together Timur, Markos, Nabi, and Idris discuss Nila Wahdati. Markos mentions that Nila became a... (full context)
Chapter 6
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Afghanistan to see her old home. 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... (full context)
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Compassion and Selfishness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...it or not. It’s not clear, for example, if her father was in love with Nabi, the old chauffeur and cook, or if Nila is only being dramatic. She wonders if... (full context)
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Time, Memory, Forgetting, and Art Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...she’ll want to hear. On the phone, Markos gets to the point: he explains that Nabi, whom Pari thinks of as her cook, was actually her uncle. He then reads her... (full context)
Chapter 7
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Power and Wealth Theme Icon
...in a field, with his father. Gholam also mentions that his father has an uncle, Nabi, who lives, or lived, in Kabul. (full context)
Chapter 8
Interconnectedness Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...his work. He’s been residing in a large house in Kabul since 2002. His landlord, Nabi, died very recently. Because Markos is distracted by thoughts of Thalia’s call, he decides to... (full context)