The narrator shifts into the present tense in Part IV, as Laila and Tariq have made it to Murree, They had married the day the arrived. Sayeed brought a friend and mullah for the ceremony, and they married after the children had gone to bed at night. As their eyes met in the mirror under the veil, Laila looked at their faces marked with age and suffering, no longer the eager youths they’d once been. But their first night as a married couple, she considered it a blessing just to be beside him.
This shift into the present tense creates a greater immediacy to the plot: after the dramatic arc of the narrative ending with Mariam’s execution, Laila still must find a way to survive day by day. Laila’s marriage has little to do with her and Tariq’s eager youthfulness—that time has long passed, but instead is replaced with a deeper, more stable kind of love.
Laila likes living in Murree, with its tourist attractions and natural beauty, though the locals bemoan the constant construction—in Kabul construction would be celebrated. They have a real bathroom, not an outhouse. Laila cleans the hotel rooms with Tariq, and Aziza helps out with spraying the windows.
Kabul is never far from Laila’s mind, even when it doesn’t compare favorably to her new surroundings—Murree has largely been spared the destruction of multiple wars and battles.
Laila had told Aziza about her real father a few days after the wedding ceremony, and already she and Tariq are finishing each other’s sentences and seem to share a constant private conversation. Aziza asks Laila if he’ll leave, but Laila says he’ll never hurt her and never leave, and Aziza looks deeply relieved.
Aziza had never been treated like a real daughter by Rasheed, so it is easy for her to embrace her true father. Still, she has had a difficult enough childhood to doubt that such love is stable and here to stay.
Zalmai, on the other hand, is sullen and rebels against Tariq, saying he’s not his real father. Every night, Laila tells him the same lie about Baba jan (Rasheed) having gone away. She knows that little by little, the questions will end. Though she is happy in Murree, she’s aware of the cost of this happiness.
From the first time Laila told this lie, she has been aware that there was no choice she or Mariam could have made that would leave no room for grief and suffering.
Sometimes, they all take the bus to Kashmir Point, where Tariq shows them the Jhelum River valley, or to Nathia Gali and the Governor’s House. When Laila catches their reflections in a store window, she thinks how normal and content they must seem to outsiders. Aziza sometimes wakes up screaming from nightmares. Laila always dreams she’s at the house in Kabul, listening to the sound of a woman’s chores. When she walks in, the room is always empty.
As Laila and her family attempt to construct a life for themselves in Murree, their painful history seems far away and remote. However, Aziza’s and Laila’s dreams reveal that the past is still an acute, significant part of the present. For Laila, this past also takes the form of missing her closest friend, Mariam.