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The two women become closer than they ever had before. They truly love each other. Both have felt the pain of Rasheed's misogynist abuse. Mariam kills Rashhed to save Laila's life. She sacrifices herself so that Laila can live a life free of Rasheed. I don't think that Mariam had any illusions about what the consequences of her actions would be: she freely gave her life to Laila.