The track was flanked on either side by knee-high grass and speckles of white and bright yellow flowers. The track snaked uphill and led to a flat field where poplars and cottonwoods soared and wild bushes grew in clusters. From up there, one could make out the tips of the rusted blades of Gul Daman's windmill, on the left, and, on the right, all of Herat spread below. The path ended perpendicular to a wide, trout-filled stream, which rolled down from the Safid-koh mountains surrounding Gul Daman.
Two hundred yards upstream, toward the mountains, there was a circular grove of weeping willow trees. In the center, in the shade of the willows, was the clearing. Jalil went there to have a look. When he came back, Nana said, he sounded like a warden bragging about the clean walls and shiny floors of his prison.
The suitor had been a boy from Shindand, a young parakeet seller. Mariam knew the story from Nana herself, and, though Nana dismissed the episode, Mariam could tell by the wistful light in her eyes that she had been happy. Perhaps for the only time in her life, during those days leading up to her wedding, Nana had been genuinely happy.
As Nana told the story, Mariam sat on her lap and pictured her mother being fitted for a wedding dress. She imagined her on horseback, smiling shyly behind a veiled green gown, her palms painted red with henna, her hair parted with silver dust, the braids held together by tree sap.
She saw musicians blowing the shahnai flute and banging on dohol drums, street children hooting and giving chase. Then, a week before the wedding date, ajinn had entered Nana's body. This required no description to Mariam. She had witnessed it enough times with her own eyes: Nana collapsing suddenly, her body tightening, becoming rigid, her eyes rolling back, her arms and legs shaking as if something were throttling her from the inside, the froth at the corners of her mouth, white, sometimes pink with blood.
Then the drowsiness, the frightening disorientation, the incoherent mumbling. When the news reached Shindand, the parakeet seller's family called off the wedding.
The wedding dress was stashed away. After that, there were no more suitors. They raised it with sun-dried bricks and plastered it with mud and handfuls of straw. It had two sleeping cots, a wooden table, two straight-backed chairs, a window, and shelves nailed to the walls where Nana placed clay pots and her beloved Chinese tea set. Jalil put in a new cast-iron stove for the winter and stacked logs of chopped wood behind the kolba He added a tandoor outside for making bread and a chicken coop with a fence around it.
He brought a few sheep, built them a feeding trough. He had Farhad and Muhsin dig a deep hole a hundred yards outside the circle of willows and built an outhouse over it.
Jalil could have hired laborers to build the kolba. Nana said, but he didn't. It happened on a damp, overcast day in the spring of , she said, the twenty-sixth year of King Zahir Shah's mostly uneventful forty-year reign. She said that Jalil hadn't bothered to summon a doctor, or even a midwife, even though he knew that thejinn might enter her body and cause her to have one of her fits in the act of delivering.
She lay all alone on the kolba's floor, a knife by her side, sweat drenching her body. And still no one came to wipe my face or give me a drink of water. And you, Mariam jo, you were in no rush. Almost two days you made me lay on that cold, hard floor. I didn't eat or sleep, all I did was push and pray that you would come out. That's why I had a knife. By the time it did occur to her, around the time she turned ten, Mariam no longer believed this story of her birth.
She believed JaliPs version, that though he'd been away he'd arranged for Nana to be taken to a hospital in Herat where she had been tended to by a doctor. She had lain on a clean, proper bed in a well-lit room. Jalil shook his head with sadness when Mariam told him about the knife.
Mariam also came to doubt that she had made her mother suffer for two full days. Even in birth you were a good daughter. And then only to look down once, comment on your longish face, and hand you back to me. Yes, Jalil admitted, he had been horseback riding in Takht-e-Safar, but, when they gave him the news, he had not shrugged.
He had hopped on the saddle and ridden back to Herat. He had bounced her in his arms, run his thumb over her flaky eyebrows, and hummed a lullaby. Mariam did not picture Jalil saying that her face was long, though it was true that it was long.
Nana said she was the one who'd picked the name Mariam because it had been the name of her mother. Jalil said he chose the name because Mariam, the tuberose, was a lovely flower. One of Mariam's earliest memories was the sound of a wheelbarrow's squeaky iron wheels bouncing over rocks.
The wheelbarrow came once a month, filled with rice, flour, tea, sugar, cooking oil, soap, toothpaste. It was pushed by two of Mariam's half brothers, usually Muhsin and Ramin, sometimes Ramin and Farhad. Up the dirt track, over rocks and pebbles, around holes and bushes, the boys took turns pushing until they reached the stream. There, the wheelbarrow had to be emptied and the items hand-carried across the water.
Then the boys would transfer the wheelbarrow across the stream and load it up again. Another two hundred yards of pushing followed, this time through tall, dense grass and around thickets of shrubs. Frogs leaped out of their way. The brothers waved mosquitoes from their sweaty faces. The sound of the wheelbarrow drew Mariam and Nana outside. Mariam would always remember Nana the way she looked on Ration Day: a tall, bony, barefoot woman leaning in the doorway, her lazy eye narrowed to a slit, arms crossed in a defiant and mocking way.
Her short-cropped, sunlit hair would be uncovered and uncombed. She would wear an ill-fitting gray shirt buttoned to the throat. The pockets were filled with walnut-sized rocks. The boys sat by the stream and waited as Mariam and Nana transferred the rations to the kolba They knew better than to get any closer than thirty yards, even though Nana's aim was poor and most of the rocks landed well short of their targets.
Nana yelled at the boys as she carried bags of rice inside, and called them names Mariam didn't understand. She cursed their mothers, made hateful faces at them. The boys never returned the insults. Mariam felt sorry for the boys. How tired their arms and legs must be, she thought pityingly, pushing that heavy load.
She wished she were allowed to offer them water. But she said nothing, and if they waved at her she didn't wave back. Once, to please Nana, Mariam even yelled at Muhsin, told him he had a mouth shaped like a lizard's ass-and was consumed later with guilt, shame, and fear that they would tell Jalil. Nana, though, laughed so hard, her rotting front tooth in full display, that Mariam thought she would lapse into one of her fits.
She looked at Mariam when she was done and said, "You're a good daughter. Mariam would wait and watch them disappear into the tall grass and flowering weeds. They do. I hear them. Mariam and Nana milked the goats, fed the hens, and collected eggs.
They made bread together. Nana showed her how to knead dough, how to kindle the tandoor and slap the flattened dough onto its inner walls. Nana taught her to sew too, and to cook rice and all the different toppings: shalqam stew with turnip, spinach sabzi, cauliflower with ginger. Nana made no secret of her dislike for visitors-and, in fact, people in general-but she made exceptions for a select few. And so there was Gul Daman's leader, the village arbab, Habib Khan, a small-headed, bearded man with a large belly who came by once a month or so, tailed by a servant, who carried a chicken, sometimes a pot of kichiri rice, or a basket of dyed eggs, for Mariam.
Then there was a rotund, old woman that Nana called Bibi jo, whose late husband had been a stone carver and friends with Nana's father. Bibi jo was invariably accompanied by one of her six brides and a grandchild or two. She limped and huffed her way across the clearing and made a great show of rubbing her hip and lowering herself, with a pained sigh, onto the chair that Nana pulled up for her.
Bibi jo too always brought Mariam something, a box of dishlemeh candy, a basket of quinces. For Nana, she first brought complaints about her failing health, and then gossip from Herat and Gul Daman, delivered at length and with gusto, as her daughter-in-law sat listening quietly and dutifully behind her. But Mariam's favorite, other than Jalil of course, was Mullah Faizullah, the elderly village Koran tutor, its akhund He came by once or twice a week from Gul Daman to teach Mariam the five daily namaz prayers and tutor her in Koran recitation, just as he had taught Nana when she'd been a little girl It was Mullah Faizullah who had taught Mariam to read, who had patiently looked over her shoulder as her lips worked the words soundlessly, her index finger lingering beneath each word, pressing until the nail bed went white, as though she could squeeze the meaning out of the symbols.
It was Mullah Faizullah who had held her hand, guided the pencil in it along the rise of each alef, the curve of each beh, the three dots of each seh. He was a gaunt, stooping old man with a toothless smile and a white beard that dropped to his navel.
Usually, he came alone to the kolba, though sometimes with his russet-haired son Hamza, who was a few years older than Mariam. When he showed up at the kolba, Mariam kissed Mullah Faizullah's hand-which felt like kissing a set of twigs covered with a thin layer of skin-and he kissed the top of her brow before they sat inside for the day's lesson.
After, the two of them sat outside the kolba, ate pine nuts and sipped green tea, watched the bulbul birds darting from tree to tree. Sometimes they went for walks among the bronze fallen leaves and alder bushes, along the stream and toward the mountains. Mullah Faizullah twirled the beads of his tasbeh rosary as they strolled, and, in his quivering voice, told Mariam stories of all the things he'd seen in his youth, like the two-headed snake he'd found in Iran, on Isfahan's Thirty-three Arch Bridge, or the watermelon he had split once outside the Blue Mosque in Mazar, to find the seeds forming the words Allah on one half, Akbar on the other.
Mullah Faizullah admitted to Mariam that, at times, he did not understand the meaning of the Koran's words. But he said he liked the enchanting sounds the Arabic words made as they rolled off his tongue. He said they comforted him, eased his heart. God's words will never betray you, my girl" Mullah Faizullah listened to stories as well as he told them. When Mariam spoke, his attention never wavered He nodded slowly and smiled with a look of gratitude, as if he had been granted a coveted privilege.
It was easy to tell Mullah Faizullah things that Mariam didn't dare tell Nana. One day, as they were walking, Mariam told him that she wished she would be allowed to go to school. Like in a classroom. Like my father's other kids. Since then, thoughts of classrooms and teachers had rattled around Mariam's head, images of notebooks with lined pages, columns of numbers, and pens that made dark, heavy marks.
She pictured herself in a classroom with other girls her age. Mariam longed to place a ruler on a page and draw important-looking lines. Other than Jalil, she thought there was no one in the world who understood her better than her old tutor.
God, in His wisdom, has given us each weaknesses, and foremost among my many is that I am powerless to refuse you, Mariam jo," he said, tapping her cheek with one arthritic finger.
But later, when he broached Nana, she dropped the knife with which she was slicing onions. Let the girl have an education. Learn what, Mullah sahib? Mariam looked down at her hands. It's like shining a spittoon. And you'll learn nothing of value in those schools. There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, and they don't teach it in school. Look at me. How they'd made her wash laundry outside in the cold until her face went numb and her fingertips burned.
Women like us. We endure. It's all we have. Do you understand? Besides, they'll laugh at you in school. They will. They'll call you haraml They'll say the most terrible things about you. I won't have it. You're all I have. I won't lose you to them. No more talk about school. If the girl wants-" Mullah Faizullah began.
If you really care about her, then you make her see that she belongs here at home with her mother. There is nothing out there for her. Nothing but rejection and heartache.
I know, akhund sahib. I know. Mariam loved having visitors at the kolba. The village arbab and his gifts, Bibi jo and her aching hip and endless gossiping, and, of course, Mullah Faizullah.
But there was no one, no one, that Mariam longed to see more than Jalil. The anxiety set in on Tuesday nights. Mariam would sleep poorly, fretting that some business entanglement would prevent Jalil from coming on Thursday, that she would have to wait a whole other week to see him. On Wednesdays, she paced outside, around the kolba, tossed chicken feed absentmindedly into the coop. She went for aimless walks, picking petals from flowers and batting at the mosquitoes nibbling on her arms.
Finally, on Thursdays, all she could do was sit against a wall, eyes glued to the stream, and wait. If Jalil was running late, a terrible dread filled her bit by bit. Her knees would weaken, and she would have to go somewhere and lie down. Then Nana would call, "And there he is, your father. In all his glory. Mariam knew that Nana was watching her, gauging her reaction, and it always took effort to stay in the doorway, to wait, to watch him slowly make his way to her, to not run to him.
She restrained herself, patiently watched him walk through the tall grass, his suit jacket slung over his shoulder, the breeze lifting his red necktie. When Jalil entered the clearing, he would throw his jacket on the tandoor and open his arms. Mariam would walk, then finally run, to him, and he would catch her under the arms and toss her up high. Mariam would squeal. Suspended in the air, Mariam would see Jalil's upturned face below her, his wide, crooked smile, his widow's peak, his cleft chin-a perfect pocket for the tip of her pinkie-his teeth, the whitest in a town of rotting molars.
She liked his trimmed mustache, and she liked that no matter the weather he always wore a suit on his visits-dark brown, his favorite color, with the white triangle of a handkerchief in the breast pocket-and cuff links too, and a tie, usually red, which he left loosened Mariam could see herself too, reflected in the brown of Jalil's eyes: her hair billowing, her face blazing with excitement, the sky behind her.
Nana said that one of these days he would miss, that she, Mariam, would slip through his fingers, hit the ground, and break a bone. But Mariam did not believe that Jalil would drop her. She believed that she would always land safely into her father's clean, well-manicured hands.
They sat outside the kolba, in the shade, and Nana served them tea. Jalil and she acknowledged each other with an uneasy smile and a nod. Jalil never brought up Nana's rock throwing or her cursing. Despite her rants against him when he wasn't around, Nana was subdued and mannerly when Jalil visited.
Her hair was always washed. She brushed her teeth, wore her best hijab for him. She sat quietly on a chair across from him, hands folded on her lap. She did not look at him directly and never used coarse language around him. When she laughed, she covered her mouth with a fist to hide the bad tooth. Nana asked about his businesses. And his wives too. When she told him that she had heard, through Bibi jo, that his youngest wife, Nargis, was expecting her third child, Jalil smiled courteously and nodded.
You must be happy," Nana said. Ten, is it, mashallah1? Mariam said she had tricked him. After tea with Nana, Mariam and Jalil always went fishing in the stream. He showed her how to cast her line, how to reel in the trout. He taught her the proper way to gut a trout, to clean it, to lift the meat off the bone in one motion.
He drew pictures for her as they waited for a strike, showed her how to draw an elephant in one stroke without ever lifting the pen off the paper. He taught her rhymes. Together they sang: Lili Mi birdbath, Sitting on a dirt path, Minnow sat on the rim and drank, Slipped, and in the water she sank Jalil brought clippings from Herat's newspaper, Iiiifaq-i Islam, and read from them to her.
He was Mariam's link, her proof that there existed a world at large, beyond the kolba, beyond Gul Daman and Herat too, a world of presidents with unpronounceable names, and trains and museums and soccer, and rockets that orbited the earth and landed on the moon, and, every Thursday, Jalil brought a piece of that world with him to the kolba.
He was the one who told her in the summer of , when Mariam was fourteen, that King Zahir Shah, who had ruled from Kabul for forty years, had been overthrown in a bloodless coup. I told you about him. He was prime minister in Kabul when you were bom. Anyway, Afghanistan is no longer a monarchy, Mariam. You see, it's a republic now, and Daoud Khan is the president. There are rumors that the socialists in Kabul helped him take power. Not that he's a socialist himself, mind you, but that they helped him.
That's the rumor anyway. Of course. Here, then. Without further ado…" He fished a small box from his pocket and gave it to her. He did this from time to time, bring her small presents. A carnelian bracelet cuff one time, a choker with lapis lazuli beads another. That day, Mariam opened the box and found a leaf-shaped pendant, tiny coins etched with moons and stars hanging from it.
They melt the coins people throw at them and make jewelry. Let's see him bring you gold next time, your precious father. Let's see him. Mariam always held her breath as she watched him go.
She held her breath and, in her head, counted seconds. She pretended that for each second that she didn't breathe, God would grant her another day with Jalil. Finding love is a challenging quest even in your home country. Dating in Germany will either make it more so or raise the chance to finally get the partner you've been looking for all along. Dating for expats info. Living in Germany is an incredible opportunity to rediscover and reinvent yourself, including the romantic side of your life.
Transcending cultural differences and customs is just a small step to achieve that. Black Velvet. Make It Better Tropicana. Tony Cole. Janet Rees. Little Bird Little Brook. The Pattersons. Candy Choir. Gilbert O'Sullivan. Alan Randall. Bill Blinky. Marvin Tucker. The Fuzz. Suzanne Your Love Is Growing. Alone Again Save It. March Hare. Fantastic Sound with Fuzz,great guitar solo and amazing vocals. Has the Numbers written in biro on both sides of the labels. Comped on Sometimes I Wonder.
The first release on the Jam label. Two brilliant sides of Glam-garage. There is some superficial marks on the vinyl,but both sides play great. Comped on Piccadilly Sunshine 3. Great controlled feeedback solo with a fierce sound. Comped on Mixed Up Minds 5. Classy breezy harmony pop 2 sider, just the sunny sounds we need right now.
Nice psych A side, with more mod B side. Pretty scarce as a UK copy. The A side manages to be super heavy and super catchy at the same time, while the B side is pretty weird and psyched out.. Comped on Mixed Up Minds Part 5. See and hear it on our YouTube Channel. Heaps of Drums,horns and guitar with touches of the 'girl can't help it'. Appears on the Compilation "On the Brink". Loads of Heavy Guitar and Handclaps make this a must have. Wah Wah Guitar and beautiful arrangement with full on production.
Comped on Mixed Up Minds. Pop psych stunna by West Coast Consortium under a different name. Easily their rarest release. Great backing and the Flipside is interesting as well. Congress prepares to undo Obamacare, weigh Trump personnel picks Engaged former AFL star Brendan Fevola, 35, accused of sexting over Snapchat with woman 13 years his junior and asking her for naked photos Patients' own DNA can help kickstart repair mechanisms in the body Storms kill 4, damage buildings across Southern states Goldilocks and the three warrants: Owners come home to find half-naked intruder fast asleep in their BED Congress prepares to undo Obamacare, weigh Trump personnel picks India's cricketers hit bigots for six: As Mullah tells wife of Indian pacer Shami to wear a hijab, cricket fans of all religions hit back with support Looking ssssexy!
Beauty vlogger insists spreading the spicy green paste onto your skin will clear up pimples within two minutes Hot pink Hello Kitty gun, a movie corpse, and dead seahorses? Diet author reveals how the smallest amount can trigger health problems such as heart disease and diabetes Coyotes claim Burmistrov off waivers from Winnipeg Man United beats man West Ham for 6th successive win Selfie fail!
Drunk woman falls into the bath while trying to take a photo of herself Novak Djokovic loses first four games of - but hits back to win No proof Russian hacking influenced U. Subban returns soon Liverpool's pursuit of Chelsea frustrated; Man City wins Championship round-up: Birmingham beaten at home by Brentford as Huddersfield leave it late at Wigan Coffee date!
Vanessa Hudgens rocks cropped sweater and extremely tight trousers during outing with boyfriend Austin Butler Deputy leader of Libya's U. Sherlock viewers mock Martin Freeman for pretending to update static picture of his blog in epic blunder Rumor claims Apple's update could debut this month with 'Theater Mode' for texting during a movie France finds bird flu in new part of country She's red hot!
Comes with own golliwog! Hilarious optical illusion pictures will make you do a double-take 'You're out of here': Donald Trump kicks out author who published Ivana's 'rape accusations' in a biography from his Florida golf course Jordan Larsson follows dad's footsteps with Dutch move Hunters and anti-hunt demonstrators clash on one of the biggest days in the fox hunting calendar Ciara posts cute photos of her baby bump as she rings in with her growing family Congress ushers in new era of all-Republican rule Cruel bully or modern-day Wyatt Earp?
Rich Kids of Instagram star Stephy Scolaro bares all as she loses bikini top during family break to St Barts Top adviser claims President Obama 'hasn't had a scandal' - to ridicule from critics who point to 'rap sheet as long as my arm' History of deadly attacks in Iraq Woman, 38, who set off illegal fireworks for New Year's celebration in Hawaii dies from explosion while year-old man is still in critical condition 'He really wanted to be in the movie': Robin Williams was turned down for iconic Hagrid role in Harry Potter franchise because he wasn't British Head pharmacist set for trial over fatal meningitis outbreak Uninspired Leicester held by Middlesbrough 'The hard grafting has paid off'!
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