Though there had been moments of beauty in it, Mariam knew that life for the most part had been unkind to her. But as she walked the final twenty paces, she could not help but wish for more of it. She wished she could see Laila again, wished to hear the clangor of her laugh, to sit with her once more for a pot of chai and leftover halwa under a starlit sky. She mourned that she would never see Aziza grow up, would not see the beautiful young woman that she would one day become, would not get to paint her hands with henna and toss noqul candy at her wedding. She would never play with Aziza’s children.
Mariam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident. A weed. And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who has loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. … This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.
This little girl will be a woman who will make small demands on life, who will never burden others, who will never let on that she too has had sorrows, disappointments, dreams that have been ridiculed. A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her.
This book broke me. Tears couldn’t stop flowing as I neared the end of the book, which was the end of Mariam. Thinking of how life made her believe she deserved this wretched lot, and made her be grateful for little things that we should already be having. How hard and sorrowful her life is. And feeling happy to give up everything for Laila. This is the first time a book had me crying non stop. This is the first time I can remember the characters felt real and all their pain felt so real in my heart.
My bestbud has saved me yet again. She gave me this book and opened my eyes and opened my heart to feel. Gitty, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.