And the Mountains Echoed Chapter One Summary & Analysis
Chapter One Summary – Fall 1952
A father tells a story to his children (Abdullah and Pari) at the close of a day. He tells the parable of a poor farmer named Baba Ayub who toiled, “tending to his meagre pistachio trees” in Maidan Sabz, a desolate village (1). Ayub considered himself fortunate because he had a loving family with a good wife and five dutiful, wonderful children although he felt a special affinity for his youngest son, Qais. However, Qais had a tendency to sleepwalk and because his parents feared they would lose him, they tied a little bell around him so they would be able to hear if he began to sleepwalk. Even though he outgrew his tendency to sleepwalk, he could not part with his bell.
A div, a giant monstrous creature that eats children, comes to Maidan Sabz. The div approaches the apathetic Ayub household and warned them to make their child offering by dawn. Believing in the fable’s central theme, that “a finger had to be cut to save the hand” (5), Baba Ayub drew names from a sac and his beloved Qais was chosen.
Even though the offering of Qais was made, the conditions in Maidan Sabz are awful, suffering from drought, and the children are dying of thirst. Baba Ayub is in such despair over the loss of his youngest child, even years later. Stricken with guilt for not fighting the div, believing that the villagers are talking about him, he leaves his family. After a long, arduous journey, he reaches the div’s fort at the mountaintop and set out climbing it immediately, “his resolve…to fulfill his quest…unshaken” (7).
He meets with the div who does not respond to Ayub’s challenge right away. The div asks where Baba Ayub is from, why he is there, and then wants to show him something. After being sent through a labyrinth of rooms and stairwells, they finally arrive at the most magnificent garden that Baba Ayub has ever seen. There were children running happily and playing together, even his beloved Qais. According to the div, Ayub has passed a…