Soon Ramadan begins. The family neither eats nor drinks till sundown. After prayers, they have tea and eat lentils, yogurt, and chapati.

The girls do not see Hamir and Murad. According to custom, Phulan will not see him before the wedding day. Phulan becomes dreamy and absent-minded. One day, Dadi pulls Shabanu aside and speaks to her seriously. He tells her she must stay with Phulan all day. He is afraid of the landowner, Nazir Mohammad. He explains: Nazir Mohammad sold Hamir's father the land when it was desert. Once the land was fertile, Nazir Mohammad claimed that he still owned it. He began trying to force the family to give him part of the crops in payment. They took the problem to court, but the court has been slow in deciding whether Hamir's family or Nazir Mohammad owns the land. Hamir's family suspects that Nazir Mohammad is responsible for Lal Khan's death. When she hears this story, Shabanu worries for Phulan.

Over the coming weeks, the families prepare for the wedding. Phulan is thrilled to find that Hamir has built a cottage for her. The women spend one morning decorating the little cabin. They use white paint to draw good luck symbols throughout the house. The women chatter and laugh. Phulan is pleased and excited, but Shabanu is wary: she watches the young but tired Kulsum, already a widow, and hopes that life is gentler to Phulan and to herself.


Grandfather's death marks an important turning point for Shabanu. In him, she loses one companion sympathetic to her sorrows and passions and one ally in her struggle both to understand and to resist the adult world. The family's departure from their desert home and the devastation wrought upon that home by the dust storm heighten Shabanu's sense of loss. She feels increasingly alone. Little by little, she moves away from or loses the comforts of her childhood.

Grandfather's death also marks a turning point in the world around the family. Grandfather takes his stories of Pakistan's past with him. Never again will the family hear his stories of fighting bravely for his country. When he and those noble stories are gone, they find themselves in a lusterless present, in which bickering sons contest the grand nawab's estate and cannot bury a brave soldier in honor. His death causes them to leave behind their wild homeland for an irrigated agricultural valley in which greedy landowners, like Nazir Mohammad, require tenant farmers to pay the landowners a portion of the farmers' crop.

Shabanu continues to try to see into her future. Mama, Sharma, Fatima, Auntie, and the Bugti girl all show her potential courses her life may follow. Bibi Lal and Kulsum offer Shabanu another potential, grim situation: widowhood. Kulsum's experiences especially sadden and frighten Shabanu: Kulsum's husband was killed only a few years after they were married. She has four children, cannot marry again, and must depend for the rest of her life on the good will of her mother-in-law, Bibi Lal. Staples does not make clear what will happen to Kulsum when Bibi Lal dies. Kulsum will, perhaps, live as Auntie does, with in-laws who resent or dislike her. Kulsum's visage, aged beyond its years, haunts Shabanu.

The fate of a young bride rests partly on her mother-in-law. Shabanu herself understands the importance of this relationship: while Mama and Phulan talk, she becomes anxious when Mama does not tell Phulan how to behave towards her mother- in-law. Shabanu observes that Mama "looks relieved" when Bibi Lal greets Phulan with motherly warmth. She knows then that Mama, too, was worried about Bibi Lal's attitude toward Phulan. Shabanu stores away this observation, noticing again the particular ways in which women must depend on chance to provide them with good fortune.

Phulan's behaviors and actions contrast sharply with Shabanu's. Phulan becomes caught up in plans for the wedding: she wanders about absent-mindedly and her head swims with thoughts of the wedding and living in the little cottage with Hamir. Shabanu, on the other hand, becomes more and more serious: she watches Bibi Lal with careful eyes and observes Kulsum with sadness and apprehension. Dadi entrusts Shabanu with the responsibility for watching over her dreamy sister and, moreover, entrusts her with the truth of the danger in which Phulan may be. Shabanu, like Kulsum, is aged beyond her years. Though still a child wondering desperately what her adult life will bring, she must protect her sister and bear the sobering burden of knowledge.