And the Mountains Echoed

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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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
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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
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...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)
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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)
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Nabi leads everyone inside the house. Abdullah is immediately struck by the beautiful indoor garden, white... (full context)
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Nabi drives Pari, Mrs. Wahdati, and Abdullah to the bazaar. As they drive, Abdullah sees schoolchildren,... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...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)
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Some time before 1949, Nabi drives to town from Kabul. He is one of the most successful people in his... (full context)
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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
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...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)
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One day, Mr. Wahdati asks Nabi to drive him to a neighborhood of the city where Nabi has never driven before.... (full context)
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The night that Nabi drops Mr. Wahdati off at the beautiful woman’s house, Mr. Wahdati tells Nabi that he’s... (full context)
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Nabi explains that he’ll refer to Mrs. Wahdati as Nila from hereon out. He notices almost... (full context)
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Encouraged, Nabi asks to tell Nila another story, and Nila invites him to do so. Nabi explains... (full context)
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In the coming months, Nabi becomes increasingly fascinated with Nila. She is beautiful, and also highly intelligent and energetic. After... (full context)
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One day, Nila tells Nabi that she finds Mr. Wahdati aloof and arrogant. When Nabi tries to protest, she insists... (full context)
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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)
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Nabi stops for a moment to note the intimate connection between Abdullah and Pari, Saboor’s two... (full context)
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...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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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...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)
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In the spring of 1955, Nabi continues, his life changed forever. One day, Nila screams for Nabi, who rushes to her... (full context)
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...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)
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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)
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One day, Nabi is cleaning Mr. Wahdati’s house when he notices an old box of Mr. Wahdati’s sketchbooks.... (full context)
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In the late 1950s, Nabi is still working for Mr. Wahdati. They spend their spare time playing cards and other... (full context)
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One day, Nabi decides to take Mr. Wahdati for a “morning stroll” through the streets of Kabul. This... (full context)
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The year is 1968, and Nabi is still working for Mr. Wahdati. Wahdati’s mother has just passed away, and Nabi is... (full context)
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...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)
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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)
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After Mr. Wahdati’s death, Nabi discovers a note leaving him all of Wahdati’s property and wealth. Nabi is stunned, both... (full context)
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Nabi’s fortunes change once again in 2002, when he hears the bell ring at his front... (full context)
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...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)
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Nabi brings the letter to a close by saying that he doesn’t have long to live.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...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)
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...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
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...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
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...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)
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...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
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...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
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...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)