Uncle Nabi Quotes in And the Mountains Echoed
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.
In this chapter, Nabi--the man who first suggests that Pari go to live with the wealthy family in Kabul--explains the history of his employment with the family. Nabi begins his long letter by explaining that even if his story has no real beginning, it'll inevitably reach its conclusion.
Nabi's introduction is intriguing for a number of reasons. First, it mirrors the content of And the Mountains Echoed itself. In each of the nine stories in the book, we move a little bit forward, eventually reaching the inevitable conclusion: the reunion between Pari and Abdullah, decades after their separation. Nabi's explanation also suggests that stories are fundamentally about interconnection: lurking behind any story lie hundreds of others. We've already seen such a principle in action, as the first three stories in the book explain and in some ways support Nabi's.
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.
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?”
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.
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.