A Thousand Splendid Suns

(Nancy Kaufman) #1

muted passion, fully clothed beneath the blanket as a precaution against interruptions by the
children. They are forever wary of the rustling sheets, the creaking bedsprings. But for
Laila, being with Tariq is worth weathering these apprehensions. When they make love,
Laila feels anchored, she feels sheltered. Her anxieties, that their life together is a
temporary blessing, that soon it will come loose again in strips and tatters, are allayed. Her
fears of separation vanish.

"What do you mean?" she says now.

"What's going on back home. It may not be so bad in the end."

Back home, bombs are falling once again, this time American bombs Laila has been
watching images of the war every day on the television as she changes sheets and vacuums.
The Americans have armed the warlords once more, and enlisted the help of the Northern
Alliance to drive out the Taliban and find bin Laden.
But it rankles Laila, what Tariq is saying. She pushes his head roughly off her chest.

"Not so bad? People dying? Women, children, old people? Homes destroyed again? Not
so bad?"

"Shh. You'll wake the children."

"How can you say that, Tariq?" she snaps. "After the so called blunder in Karam? A
hundred innocent people! You saw the bodies for yourself!"

"No," Tariq says. He props himself up on his elbow, looks down at Laila. "You
misunderstand. What I meant was "
"You wouldn't know," Laila says. She is aware that her voice is rising, that they are
having their first fight as husband and wife. "You left when the Mujahideen began fighting,
remember? I'm the one who stayed behind. Me. I know war. I lost my parents to war. My
parents, Tariq. And now to hear you say that war is not so bad?"

"I'm sorry, Laila. I'm sorry." He cups her face in his hands. "You're right. I'm sorry.
Forgive me. What I meant was

that maybe there will be hope at the other end of this war, that maybe for the first time in a
long time "

"I don't want to talk about this anymore," Laila says, surprised at how she has lashed out
at him. It's unfair, she knows, what she said to him hadn't war taken his parents too? and
whatever flared in her is softening already. Tariq continues to speak gently, and, when he
pulls her to him, she lets him. When he kisses her hand, then her brow, she lets him. She
knows that he is probably right. She knows how his comment was intended. Maybe this is
necessary. Maybe there mil be hope when Bush's bombs stop falling. But she cannot bring
herself to say it, not when what happened to Babi and Mammy is happening to someone
now in Afghanistan, not when some unsuspecting girl or boy back home has just been

Free download pdf