Summary and Analysis
Chapter 28 - Laila
Abdul Sharif and Laila sit in the living room. Abdul Sharif tells Laila that he's a clothing store operator with shops in Kabul and in Peshawar, Pakistan, where many Afghani refugees, including Tariq and his family, have fled. Abdul tells Laila that he had was hospitalized with a kidney infection and that Tariq was in the bed next to him. Sharif tells Laila that Tariq had been severely wounded in crossfire when trying to cross into Pakistan and that among other injuries, Tariq lost his other leg. Sharif says Tariq spoke of Laila often and asked Sharif to speak to her the next time he went to Kabul. Unfortunately, Sarif tells Laila, Tariq died a few days later. Sharif said he thought about keeping this news from Laila, having learned of her own injuries and the loss of her parents, but he felt he had to fulfill Tariq's wishes. Laila takes in the news and is paralyzed with grief.
Through Laila's reactions to Tariq's death, Hosseini deepens her connections with Mariam and Fariba. As Sharif's story unfolds, Laila tries to distance herself from his news in order to attempt to handle it. As the news sinks in, Laila remembers her mother's screams when she learned her sons died, and her own indifference to that news. These connections plunge Laila into a deeper sense of guilt and shame — not only should her father be alive instead of her, but now she sees her own grief as punishment for her lack of feeling in the past. This complex intersection of grief and shame is similar to the feelings that have haunted Mariam her entire life. Mariam, too, has wondered if her inability to get pregnant was some sort of punishment for betraying her mother. Through Mariam and Laila's reactions to their losses, Hosseini conveys the complex inner workings of the human soul — how no moment remains isolated, and how every grief informs the grief that follows it.