Friday, 3 July 2015

A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini: Review

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

The book portrays Afghanistan and the status of women in Afghan society through the life of Mariam. The tragedies that she endures, the difficulties, the gender based violence that she suffers, the discrimination, the being barred from active life during the Taliban, having her life restricted and controlled by her husband, is lucidly expressed.

“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always”, is the advice Miriam’s mother gives her, from bitter the experience of her own life she hopes that her daughter would not have to face.

There is a turn of events as Laila is forced into her life.  The relation of mother and daughter they share, not being related by blood, but by turn of fate.

It talks about how harsh life can be and how unpredictable.  How it lets you dare to dream one moment and brutally shatters it at the very next.  It rips away from you everything that you have leaving you in helplessness and despair.  It tests your strength and you learn to live with pain accepting it as a way of life.  At extreme times it lets you surprise yourself with your strength that you did not know you had.  It makes you use up every ounce of your energy.  One succumbs to the merciless situations and is rendered helpless.

All through history there have been wars and battles, but how would it be living through that battle!  Life in itself is a battle and you have to strive through that battle on an everyday basis.  Children grow up learning early about the adversities life has to offer.  The innocence of childhood is lost in that stray bullet that kills a parent or in a bomb dropped bringing down a home to dust.  People try to find normality and peace while there are missiles flying over their heads.  It is bad! Not lost my phone, or a broken-knee kind of bad, but a bomb went off and lost a loved one, and hopes blown apart, kind of bad.

The muezzin’s call for namaz rang out, and the Mujahideen set down their guns, faced west and prayed.  Then the rugs were folded, the guns were loaded, and the mountains fired on Kabul, and Kabul fired back at the mountains, as Laila and the rest of the city watched helpless…”

Then one day flowers blossom in the garden of your life and bring ultimate joy.  It makes you forget all your pain as if that entire struggle, howsoever unfair, was probably worth it.  Amidst all the havoc of hatred and revenge, there is tranquility in the love of a stranger who suddenly becomes a part of your life and means the world.  There is comfort in loyal and protective friendship.

Perhaps this is just punishment for those who have been heartless, to understand only when nothing can be undone”, writes Mariam’s father in his last letter.  Looking back into his yester years only to find a sack of could’ve-would’ve-should’ves, he realizes that he can but only lament for what is broken and lost.

On an entirety, the book was an intense read.  It strikes a nerve in your conscience and compels you to think.  It is the story combining instances of humanity and of the want of it.  It contains stretches of bad with a touch of goodness in it.  It is also a reminder of how blessed most of us are who can live in peace.

“Joseph shall return to Canaan, grieve not,
Hovels shall turn to rose gardens, grieve not.
If a flood should arrive, to drown all that’s alive,
Noah is your guide in the typhoon’s eye, grieve not.”


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