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Amir remembers long nights in Afghanistan (specifically the first night of winter or yelda) when he stayed up late with Hassan. Currently he stays up late thinking of Soraya. Or, as Amir calls her, "My Swap Meet Princess."
Amir often goes over to the Taheri's table at the flea market to steal glances at Soraya. This is turning into a full-fledged obsession. Or, as some would call it, a romance.
One day at the flea market, Amir asks Baba if he wants a Coke. Baba knows what's up: Amir is going over to talk to Soraya. He gives Amir a little speech about nang and namoos (honor and pride). Amir says he won't embarrass anyone.
Amir goes over to chat up the lovely lady. He probably stays a little too long by Afghan standards. But it's going so well! Soraya even asks about Amir's writing and he promises to bring her a story sometime. Just when things are getting a little steamy (according to Afghan standards a conversation this long is apparently risqué), Soraya's mother walks up. She asks Amir to stay; he politely refuses.
Amir keeps thinking about Soraya. And going over to the Taheri booth at the flea market.
One fine flea market Saturday, Amir and Soraya are talking at the Taheri booth. Soraya tells Amir how she wants to become a teacher. She also tells Amir a story about how she taught one of the Taheri family servants to read. Now she wants to be a teacher.
The conversation is going well. Amir reaches into his pocket and hands her one of his stories (just as he promised). Just then, the General shows up. He gives Amir a little talking-to and takes the story from Soraya. He puts it in the garbage and reminds Amir – quite subtly for a military man – that Amir should check himself before he wrecks himself.
Later that very week, Baba gets a cold. It seems harmless, but then Amir catches Baba hacking up blood. Not a good sign.
They go to a county hospital since Baba doesn't have health insurance. The doctor finds a spot on Baba's lung, and sends Baba to a pulmonary clinic. Amir prays.
At first, they meet with a Russian pulmonologist. Baba isn't happy since, well, Russia did a lot of bad things to Afghanistan. Actually, the doctor was born in Michigan, but that's not enough for Baba. They switch doctors.
The new doctor gives Baba his prognosis. The cancer will be fatal.
Baba doesn't want Amir to tell anyone about his illness.
For a while, Baba does well. He still goes to the flea market. But he slowly wears down. He calls in sick to the gas station one day. By Halloween, Baba no longer gets out of the car to bargain at the yard sales. By Thanksgiving, he can't make it past noon. By Christmas, Amir is driving the van on his own. Baba loses weight. The Sunday after New Year's Day, Baba has a seizure and collapses at the flea market.
The doctor at the hospital goes over Baba's CAT scans with Amir. It doesn't look good. The cancer has spread into Baba's brain. The doctor recommends steroids, anti-seizure medication, and palliative radiation.
General Taheri, Khanum Taheri, and Soraya visit Baba and Amir at the hospital. Two days later, the hospital discharges Baba. A radiation specialist tries to talk Baba into getting radiation treatment, but he refuses.
Baba is resting on the couch. Amir asks Baba to visit General Taheri and formally request Soraya's hand in marriage. He does this not only because he loves Soraya, but also because his father is dying. Amir knows the marriage will please his father. Baba calls the General and sets up a meeting for the next day.
Amir drops Baba off at the Taheri's home. Amir goes back home to wait for Baba to call. The phone rings about an hour after Amir dropped Baba off. The General has accepted.
However, Soraya needs to talk to Amir. Soraya wants Amir to know about her past before they proceed any further. Here's the story: Soraya was living in Virginia with another man after having run away from home. Lots of gossip. Soon enough, the General shows up. He takes Soraya home, where she discovers her little romp has caused Khanum Taheri to have a stroke, paralyzing the right side of her face. End of story.
Amir still wants to marry Soraya. Remember, he's got his own checkered past. If Amir called the wedding off, it'd be the pot calling the kettle black. No, it'd be worse than that.
The chapter ends with Amir's regrets. He wishes he could be as open as her and tell her about Hassan and Ali. He opens his mouth but doesn't say anything.