Laila stays in bed the next day, up until Rasheed returns from the barber with a new haircut, a new suit, and a wedding band—he’s traded Mariam’s old ring for it. Laila asks him to take it back, but he smiles and said he had to add a lot of cash for this one. He offers to take her to a tailor to get her fitted for a dress, but Laila says she’d rather get it done. Rasheed grins toothily, calling her “eager.”
Rasheed is frank and straightforward about his intentions with Laila, and does not hesitate to condemn or scorn his first wife, though Laila (now occupying the chapter’s point of view) is uncomfortable with this treatment. Rasheed obviously misinterprets Laila’s desire to get the wedding over with.
Before Abdul Sharif’s visit, Laila had decided to leave for Pakistan. But now, she’s begun to have nausea in the morning, and realizes she’s missed a cycle. She imagines herself in a refugee camp, with her and Tariq’s baby beneath a dirty tent. She can’t run now. So many people in her life have died, but there is a miraculous piece of her former life growing inside her.
We now understand better why Laila has agreed to marry Rasheed, and why so quickly. Amid the death and destruction that she has witnessed around her, the existence of a child growing inside her strikes her as no less than a miracle, a small piece of life amid death and a reminder of Tariq.
Laila knows that her agreement to wed Rasheed is dishonorable, shameful, and unfair to Mariam, but she is committed to sacrificing anything for her child.
Already, Laila’s love for her unborn child will lead her to do anything that would ensure its health.
Laila would only remember fragments from the ceremony, including Mariam watching, disapproving. Laila can’t bring herself to meet Mariam’s gaze. That night, as Rasheed undresses her, she starts shaking involuntarily. She asks him to turn off the lights. Later, once he’s asleep, Laila pricks her finger with the knife she’s hidden under the mattress, and lets it bleed on the sheets.
Though Laila has committed to doing what she needs to do for her baby, this does not prevent her from feeling the shame of her act, especially the questionable morality of doing this to Mariam. With Rasheed, sex is a matter of fear rather than love, as it had been with Tariq.