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Chapter 13

When we arrived at the Taheris?home the next evening--for lafz, the ceremony of "giving word?-I had to park the Ford across the street. Their driveway was already jammed with cars. I wore a navy blue suit I had bought the previous day, after I had brought Baba Home from _khastegari_. I checked my tie in the rearview mirror.

"You look khoshteep,?Baba said. Handsome.

"Thank you, Baba. Are you all right? Do you feel up to this??

"Up to this? It's the happiest day of my life, Amir,?he said, smiling tiredly.


I COULD HEAR CHATTER from the other side of the door, laughter, and Afghan music playing softly--it sounded like a classical ghazal by Ustad Sarahang. I rang the bell. A face peeked through the curtains of the foyer window and disappeared. "They're here!?I heard a woman's voice say. The chatter stopped. Someone turned off the music.

Khanum Taheri opened the door. "_Salaam alaykum_,?she said, beaming. She'd permed her hair, I saw, and wore an elegant, ankle-length black dress. When I stepped into the foyer, her eyes moistened. "You're barely in the house and I'm crying already, Amir jan,?she said. I planted a kiss on her hand, just as Baba had instructed me to do the night before.

She led us through a brightly lit hallway to the living room. On the wood-paneled walls, I saw pictures of the people who would become my new family: A young bouffant-haired Khanum Taheri and the general--Niagara Falls in the background; Khanum Taheri in a seamless dress, the general in a narrow-lapelled jacket and thin tie, his hair full and black; Soraya, about to board a wooden rolle