Though Mariam loves having visitors, she treasures Jalil’s visits each Thursday the most. Each week she awaits him anxiously, though she tries not to seem to excited for Nana’s sake. Nevertheless, Nana always is calmer and more polite in Jalil’s presence, washing her hair, putting on a nice hijab, and serving him and Mariam tea.
Though Nana rails against Jalil in his absence, he clearly continues to exert a kind of power over her. Nana’s relationship to Jalil is complex: they may once have loved each other, though now only the power of reputation persists.
Jalil shows Mariam how to fish, teaches her rhymes, and shows her clippings from Herat’s newspaper—a piece of the world outside the kolba. In the summer of 1973, when Mariam is fourteen, he tells her that the king has been deposed in a bloodless coup and that Afghanistan has become a republic.
Along with Mullah Faizullah, Jalil serves as Mariam’s link to the broader world, where political coups and national affairs—even if they seem remote—will come to affect her personally.
Jalil gives Mariam a leaf-shaped pendant. Mariam loves it, but Nana scoffs that it’s just nomad jewelry made from coins people throw at them.
Again, Mariam has to choose between two competing visions of her father. At this moment, though, any gift from her father only makes her adore him more.
After Jalil’s visits, Mariam always wonders what his life in Herat is like, and imagines living with him and being able to see him every day.
Even Herat, though not far from the kolba, represents an entirely distinct way of life that is simply unavailable to Mariam.