Chapter 1, Guluband
* Shabanu is an eleven-year-old living with her extended family in the Cholistan Desert of Pakistan.
* Her thirteen-year-old sister, Phulan, will be getting married soon and it is the main topic of discussion among the women of the family.
* Shabanu's aunt thinks it is better to have sons.
* The availability of water is a big concern for the family and dictates where they live.
* The family moves around, and Phulan worries that once she lives in her husband's village she will never see her family again.
* Shabanu reminds her sister that in two years she will join her when she marries the brother of Phulan's husband.
* A rain shower allows them to stay in the desert until the wedding.
Chapter 2, Birth
* The rains have brought creatures out of hiding and attracted vultures.
* The vultures begin to circle a pregnant camel while Shabanu is tending the herd.
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