The next evening they arrive at Rasheed’s house, which he explains is in the southwest part of Kabul, near the zoo and university. Mariam has to pay close attention to understand his Kabuli dialect of Farsi.
Afghanistan’s multilingualism makes it culturally vibrant, but can also be divisive and create cultural clashes.
The houses on the street have flat roofs and are made of burned brick, with small walled yards. Rasheed’s house looks like it was once blue. Inside there is a barren, unkempt yard, with an outhouse, well, and tool shed. The house is smaller than Jalil’s but much larger than the kolba. But as Mariam looks around, she misses the familiarity of home, and realizes she is in a stranger’s house with its unfamiliar furniture and smells. She longs for her old life and begins to cry, annoying Rasheed, who says she has no patience for women’s crying.
Such intricate description is meant to follow Mariam’s thoughts as she enters a new place and a new life where nothing is familiar: she can only relate whatever she sees in the two homes, one tiny and one magnificent, to the profound sadness and homesickness she is now experiencing.
Upstairs, there are two bedrooms, and Rasheed gives her the guest room since he likes to sleep alone. Mariam is relieved. He shows her white tuberoses he’s placed in the windowsills for her. He asks her to thank him, and asks if she’s afraid of him. She says no—the first lie of their marriage.
Though Rasheed is curt and not affectionate, he seems to be making at least some gestures of kindness. Mariam is only a teenager, though, so it’s hardly surprising that she is afraid of her new husband.