“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated...”
“Behind every trial and sorrow that He makes us shoulder, God has a reason.”
“A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed. It won't stretch to make room for you.”
“I will follow you to the ends of the world.”
“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”
“Miriam 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 had loved and been loved back. She was leaving it as a friend, a companion, a guardian. A mother. A person of consequence at last. No. It was not so bad, Miriam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate belongings.”
“she is the noor of my eyes and the sultan of my heart.”
“You changed the subject."
"The empty-headed girls who think you're sexy."
"That I only have eyes for you.”
“You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you have to see and feel.”
“Perhaps this is just punishment for those who have been heartless, to understand only when nothing can be undone.”
“And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them. She uprooted them and ditched them before they took hold.”
“Boys, Laila came to see, treated friendship the way they treated the sun: its existence undisputed; its radiance best enjoyed, not beheld directly.”
“I know you're still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You're a very very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.”
“Mariam lay on the couch, hands tucked between her knees, watched the whirlpool of snow twisting and spinning outside the window. She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how people like us suffer, she'd said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us.”
“But the game involves only male names. Because, if it's a girl, Laila has already named her”
“Laila has moved on. Because in the end she knows that’s all she can do. That and hope.”
“yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways and move them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism”
“Tariq tucked the gun into the waist of his denims. Then he said a thing both lovely and terrible. "For you," he said. "I'd kill with it for you, Laila.”
“I'm sorry," Laila says, marveling at how every Afghan story is marked by death and loss and unimaginable grief. And yet, she sees, people find a way to survive, to go on.”
“the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion”
“With the passing of time, she would slowly tire of this exercise. She would find it increasingly exhausting to conjure up, to dust off, to resuscitate once again what was long dead. There would come a day, in fact, years later, when [she] would no longer bewail his loss. Or not as relentlessly; not nearly. There would come a day when the details of his face would begin to slip from memory's grip, when overhearing a mother on the street call after her child by [his] name would no longer cut her adrift. She would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion--like the phantom pain of an amputee.”
“She would never leave her mark on Mammy's heart the way her brothers had, because Mammy's heart was like a pallid beach where Laila's footprints would forever wash away beneath the waves of sorrow that swelled and crashed, swelled and crashed. ”
“And that, ...is the story of our country, one invasion after another...Macedonians. Saddanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we're like those walls up there. Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing.”
“Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer.”
“Laila watches Mariam glue strands of yarn onto her doll's head. In a few years, 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 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. Already Laila sees something behind this young girl's eyes, something deep in her core, that neither Rasheed nor the Taliban will be able to break. something as hard and unyielding as a block of limestone. Something that, in the end, will be her undoing and Laila's salvation.
The little girl looks up. Puts the doll down. Smiles.”
“Though there were moments of beauty, Mariam knew for the most part that life had been unkind to her.”
“Then I think of all the tricks, all the minutes all the hours and days and weeks and months and years waiting for me. All of it without them. And I can't breathe then, like someone's stepping on my heart, Laila. So weak I just want to collapse somewhere.”
“You can't fool me, comrade. You want to put on a cowboy hat and keep lawless bank robbers in line.''
"No time. I have enough trouble keeping you in line.”
“Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time."
"Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did not quite know what to say.”
“Without suffering, there'd be no compassion.”
“And sometimes, if you want the truth, you have to demand it.”
“With great power... comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later.”
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