I can feel hands stroking my head. They are warm and tender. They are nervous; they tremble. "Mother, is that you?" A lock of my mother's hair caresses my face. So soft and gentle. "Brother, are you awake?" That's not my mother. Who is it? Despite all the pain, I force my eyes open. I can't tell whether the blackness I see is her hair or the night. I move my head a fraction. Beneath the dark hair is a woman I do not know. To one side of her, I can make out the face of a child, who says, "Father!" His hand is stroking my hair. "Father! You woke up! You came back! Get up!" Are these the same voices I heard before, the same faces? No, I'm still asleep. I'd better close my eyes again. I close them. Excerpted from A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.