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 clamour of her laugh, to sit with her once more for a pot of chai and left over 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. She would have liked that very much, to be old and play with Aziza's children.Near the goalpost, the man behind her asked her to stop. Mariam did. Through the crisscrossing grid of the burqa, she saw his shadow arms lift his shadow Kalashnikov. 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 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,Mariam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings. Mariam's final thoughts were a few words from the Koran, which she muttered under her breath.He has created the heavens and the earth with the truth; He makes the night cover the day and makes the day overtake the night and He has made the sun and the moon subservient; each one runs on to an assigned term; now surely He is the Mighty, the Great Forgiver.Kneel, the Talib saidO my Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for you are the best of the merciful ones.Kneel here, hamshira and look down.One last time, Mariam did as she was told.
Khaled Hosseini