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Quais is a character from one of the stories Saboor tells his children. Prophetically, he is offered as sacrifice to a div in order to save the rest of the children of the family – something which is compared to cutting one finger in order to save the hand. However, despite the assumption that he was killed by the creature, the div erased his memory of his family and took him to his palace where he could spend his days playing with other children in an idyllic, abundant garden.
Quais’ father, Baba Ayub, loved his youngest son above everything else and thus one could imagine his despair when he had to offer his son to an evil spirit. However, in doing so, he proved his courage and determination to protect his family and thus the Div made sure Quais was cared for and in need of nothing. Baba Ayub was forced to make yet another difficult decision when the Div offered to return his son, as this implied taking him away from the bounty of the garden. As the father placed the needs of the boy above his own, the creature performed a last act of mercy by making him forget Quais in order to alleviate his pain.
Pari is an exuberant three-year old girl when we are first introduced to her. Apart from her beloved dog and feather collection, her brother is the most important thing in her life. Early on, their bond is described as entirely special as Abdullah was both brother and mother to her. However, when they are separated, Pari is adopted by the wealthy Wahdati family and coaxed into forgetting her former relations. While her memories of her brother disappeared she always felt like something was missing. At six years old she moves with her mother in Paris where she gets to be privy to her many astray relationships. Finally, she becomes a professor of mathematics at the Sorbonne, marries Eric and has three children.
Pari’s kind brother, he is ten when his sister is sold to the Wahdatis and as such is not able to forget her. He longs to meet her again his whole life and names his only daughter Pari, as a tribute to his long-lost sister. After immigrating to America he opens a restaurant. In the end he is reunited with his sister but as dementia sets in he no longer remembers her.
Parwana is Masoona’s twin sister. She spent her childhood eclipsed by the beauty and amiability of her sister and yet the two of them managed to develop a special bond. Unfortunately, when Masoona finally admitted that she hoped to marry Saboor, Parwana pushed her out of jealousy off the branch where they were sitting. Due to the fall, she paralysed and thus Parwana had to care for her. In the end, she became Saboor’s second wife and gave birth to two sons: Omar and Iqbar, only one surviving to adulthood.
Parwana’s twin sister, Masoona, was the beauty of the village, admired by all who gazed upon her, including Saboor. Her trust was unknowingly betrayed by her sister when she pushed her, causing the fracture of her spine. However, the twins continued to be close until the end when she decided she did not want to be a burden and asked to be abandoned in the desert.
Masoona and Parwana’s older brother, Nabi could not bear the responsibility of taking care of his disabled sister. In consequence, he moved to Kabul where he became the chef and chauffer of the Wahdati family. His unrequited love for Naila made him orchestrate Pari’s adoption. However, in the end, the woman he loves left for Paris and he had to take care of a paralysed Suleiman Wahdati. Suleiman was secretly harbouring romantic feelings for Nabi and while he could never reciprocate in kind, the two developed nevertheless a strong friendship bond. Before he passed away, Nabi left a letter outlining the story of Pari’s adoption.
Abdullah and Pari’s father, he is portrayed as an emotional distant adult and yet stories from his youth depict him as a passionate teenagers with a talent for storytelling. His decision to give up Pari in order to have enough money to see his family through the winter surely caused him pain although he never expressed it.
Timur’s cousin, he tells the story of Roshi from his perspective and thus at the beginning he appears to be a sympathetic figure who will fight for the little girl. However, once he leaves Afghanistan he forgets all the promises he made and thus never takes affirmative action to help. After six years, the girl he renegaded is a famous writer and he has to look her in the eyes and realize the mistake he made all those years ago.
While initially cast by Idris in the role of a theatrical, shallow person, in the end the support he offers others, including Roshi, suggests that he is a genuinely kind person who wants to help. In relation to Roshi, he assumes the role of ‘Kaka’ (uncle) after Idris vacates it out of his own choice.
Roshi’s uncle killed her entire family and left her severely disfigured by hitting her with an axe. While in hospital she gets close to the nurse, Amra, and to Idris, an Afghan who moved to America with his family before the war. However, her boundless trust is betrayed by Idris who promises to keep in touch and help her obtain the funding for the surgery. In the end, Timur is the one who makes the medical intervention possible and gives Roshi a future.
A Bosnian nurse and volunteer in Afghanistan. She takes care and later adopts Roshi. She too trusted Idris, writing him multiple letters which went unanswered.
Pari’s adoptive mother, at the start it seems that they young girl is filling the void in her life but this is proven to be only temporary. When her husband falls ill she prefers to depart for France in the search of a more sybaritically life style, leaving Suleiman in the care of Nabi. As a mother, she proved to be irresponsible and prone to put her romantic life and poetry above Pari. She is in dire need of attention, often ending up in the ER and calling her daughter to attend upon her. Despite Pari’s devotion she constantly alludes to the fact that the two of them are a mismatch as they are not in reality connected by blood. In the end she commits suicide.
A man who prefers the solitude, he is secretly in love with his cook Nabi and tolerates only him and Pari around him. When he paralyses he is attended only by Nabi and they slowly start to resemble an old couple, their existence being intertwined to each other. Ultimately, he asks Nabi to let him die and he wills all his fortune to him.
The Son of Commander Sahib, he starts out as an innocent boy, isolated from the outside world and very proud of his father’s perceived courage and generosity. However, following his encounter with Gholman he comes to see his father for what he is, a hardened criminal, and has to reconcile the truth with his love for him.
Iqbar’s son, he lived most of his life in a refugee camp in Pakistan. He befriended Adel and out of this unlikely friendship came he latter’s realization of the true nature of his father.
Parwana’s only surviving son, he returns to the village of his childhood to claim his land. Unfortunately, due to the corruption and the sway of the Commander, his property documents are destroyed and so the war criminal keeps the land while Iqbar and his family are forced to squat on a field.
Adel’s father, at the beginning he seems to be a noble men and yet by the end the readers understand that the deference of people is out of fear and not respect.
Markos’s mother and Madaline’s childhood friend, she sees weeping as a sign of weakness and thus is not a maternal, sentimental person. Despite this, she stands up for what she believes in and teaches all the islanders a lesson in tolerance. After Madaline abandons Thalia, she takes care of her and Markos finally understands that while she might not be the warmest of mothers her gift to him is the certainty that she will never leave.
Odelia’s childhood friend, she is beautiful and charming. At first, Markos believes that her exuberance is out of parental concern for her daughter. However, by the end of the story it is clear that she draws attention out of vanity and she is embarrassed by her daughter, forcing her to wear a mask in order to cover the deformity. Her poor choice of men makes her abandon Thalia and elope, managing to have a relatively fulfilling life without the girl.
While he is scared by Thalia’s appearance at first, calling her a monster, he learns to treasure her as a sister after she helps him take his first photo with a camera they make together. This photo – which has Thalia as a subject- becomes his most prized possession during the time he spends traveling the world. After almost dyeing of hepatitis in India, he volunteers at the hospital and soon thereafter he trains as a plastic surgeon and leaves for Kabul to help the war victims.
After getting mulled by a dog she is forced to get accustomed to the deformity of her face but by the time she reaches maturity, the way she looks becomes a part of her identity so much so that she refuses Markos’ offer to perform a reparative surgery. Introverted at first, Thalia is very perceptive and comes to be a sister for Markos and a daughter to Odelia.
Pari is Abdullah’s daughter. Being an only child she often talks to the imaginary projection of her namesake, the Pari that was sold to the Wahdatis long time ago. During her youth she feels constrained by the Afghan culture her father tries to impose on her and by his unwillingness to be separates from her. In the end, this makes her give up her dreams of going to art school so that she could stay at home and care for her mother and father. This dependence on her parents and fear to leave them also makes her refuse a marriage offer. However, through her meeting with the real Pari she is able to have another go at her life, traveling to Paris and applying to an art college.
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