On page 7, Crystel wrote, Are you skimming through this? I would have flown through the 421 pages of Khaled Hosseini’s novel, And The Mountains Echoed or flipped to the back of the book and started reading to the front. Her notation stopped me.
She had made it impossible. The book was a birthday gift from her. More significantly, throughout the book she underlined, drew pictures, commented, and gave of herself. How could I skim one single page when I could miss a piece of her? Her insights. Her thoughts. Her feelings.
On page 2 she underlined, cause he had a family that he cherished above all things. A paragraph later next to, Baba Ayub privately had a unique fondness for one among them, his youngest, she teased, just like you.
My daughter brought me along on her personal journey and in essence we were reading the book together.
At times she encouraged, Don’t cry, mom and Don’t panic, mom on difficult passages such as when Father hit Abdullah.
Sometimes she questioned But why? Or guessed, I bet he’s gonna leave them or something.
She compared the book to her own life. Shuja the dog was our Sadie. About Kabul, she wrote, Kinda picturing Guatemala.
Her frustration showed, Soooo many diff. names. IDK who is who! and, So we are just gonna forget about the vanished girl?
I began to read the novel to unearth her and understand her inner world.
After, Father went after Shuja with a stick, wasI am sobbing.
I would be both LOL but also amazed and touched she wrote when Nabi discovered that Mr. Wahdati was sketching him.
She entertained me with her own sketches of a sleeping cow, trees, a duck, cars, eyeballs, and the devil.
My birthday is a few weeks after Crystel left for college. When I picked the book up in the evening, it staved off the heartache. Emotionally I was with her. What a gift!
It was easier with Mother – always had been – less complicated, less treacherous. I didn’t have to be on guard much. I didn’t have to watch what I said all the time for fear of inflicting a wound. A sketch of a little heart floated on the side of the page.
I snapped a photo of the passage she had underlined and texted it to her. Let her know that I heard her. That finna be us, she responded, with a couple of emojis. I know! I answered. Making a vow to always be there for her, a promise that only our hearts could hear.