Words have power to move the world. It has been proven on uncountable occasions and in uncountable ways. They have power to melt toughest of hearts and they can even strengthen weakest of hearts. And when words come out of the pen of a poet, they can awaken society to the world existing around it! Khaled Hosseini’s poetical prose in his novel ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ has left me stunned by the blazing light streaming from those thousand splendid suns. I am a bibliophile. Though i’m surrounded by them 24*7, it often happens that I have to wait for holidays to read some of my chosen books at a stretch. I work in the field where I have to deal with books and serious (thoughtful ;-)) stuff they contain all the time. So when it comes to choosing a book for leisure, I generally choose light reads. Something that makes me feel good, happy. Whenever i’d come across books that talk about hardships or intense suffering, i’d avoid them. So this book, which portrays female suffering and endurance under the Taliban was certainly not my cup of tea.
One of my friend had long back suggested it. For quite some time I had no idea what was it all about. Then somehow I ordered in on Amazon. May be because it was available on quite discounted rate and was there on my reading list too. But I could still not bring myself to read it. That’s when my another friend agreed to read it with me! And then I began.
The book hits you from the very beginning. From the very first line. And just by striking your brain again and again it challenges you to become a strong person. Novel is set in Afghanistan. It begins in 1960s when Soviet occupation was yet to happen. In the early pages, it gives narration of Mariam’s childhood, who was an illegitimate child of a reputed businessman. Had this book been a dramatic fiction, the heroin may have an ‘interesting’ life ahead like it happens in many hollywood or hindi movies. She’d have made something out of her life. But as it wasn’t, Mariam’s life only worsens.
Mariam is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed, an elderly widower. She undergoes Rasheed ‘s brutality when she fails to bear him a boy. Meanwhile Laila is born in their neighbourhood. Third child of a modern educated couple. As the internal war takes away fifteen year old Laila’s parents, she was left with a bleak future. She is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed. After some conflicts, a friendship grows between Mariam and Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet their love for each other moved them to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.
So what does this book do? What effect does it have on its reader? I could say that it brought me out of my comfort zone. Instead of those flowery tales, it brought me to a parched land full of thorns. It narrated a tale of sustenance and endurance. And of finding hope in the most cruelest of conditions. It talks about the extent of cruelty some people are committing. And under that circumstances, the extent of sacrifice and forbearance others are showing. May be the most selfless acts of love and courage bloom in the most dire situations.
And you never know that a thousand splendid suns can shine in the darkest hour. This book made me meet a new me!
And for the author, all I could say is, his pen transforms into an airplane, picks the reader from his seat and transfers him/her to Afghanistan not as a tourist, journalist or an outsider but as an Aziz Mehmaan. A special guest, whom the author shows his beloved war-torn country with a vision full of adoration. What millions of google pages filled with news, data and statistics about Afghanistan can’t do, this 400 pages book does.
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