thank you, my for getting this signed (first) edition for me
An ode to a book that broke my heart yet somehow fixed it at the same time.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
This book is not for the faint of heart.
This book was recommended to me by my dad’s wife and when I read the first line aloud, I knew that I was in for an emotional and wild ride.
Mariam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.
And boy, was I right.
I still remember the day I finished reading this life changing book, laden with emotions. I delved myself into researching about the harrows faced by the Afghans under the Taliban rule, and how effective the work of the UN has been when it came to this.
Introducing us to the story of Mariam and Laila in a deeply moving account of family and friendship set in an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship and an indestructible love is carved in this story.
Mariam, the harami (one born out of wedlock) daughter of the esteemed and prosperous businessman Jalil, lived in an isolated life with her agitated and disturbed mother in Gul Daman, a small town outside of Herat. Mariam’s adoration for her father and desire for his acceptance leads to a fateful change in her entire existence, and life.
Laila, on the other hand, lead a very different life in Kabul amongst her family, friends and loved ones. She also had a childhood sweetheart and a father who cherished her and encouraged her education and wellbeing.
Unexpectedly, the two women’s lives which were poles apart became intertwined by a cruel twist of fate as they found themselves under the same roof with a horrid, vile man.
As devastating yet satisfying Khaled’s books have always been to me, he knows the art of storytelling like no other. He held my hand through this book walked me through a country I knew nothing about except through the media. Inspired by the volatile events of the last 30 years in Afghanistan, this book painted a picture which is very different from what the media is trying to impose. The content was so captivating and the text was difficult to set aside. My days were clouded, and it kept me up at night with clenched fists and scrunched eyebrows.
As I have mentioned earlier, this book is not for the faint of heart. It is packed with brutality and as a woman, I found myself deeply connected with Mariam and Laila. I had to put it down for a while every now and then, fearing what worst is going to happen next. All the hatred in female suppression made my jaw drop countless times due to utter astonishment, horror and shock. It broke my heart to know the level of atrocities and the pain women have to go through in many parts of the world, as Mariam and Laila were only an example of countless women still out there, suppressed and tortured.
With every pause, tears streamed down my face.
This book made me value my country’s freedom and independence, my right to education and how accepted and welcomed my choice is when choosing a husband. It was so aching, painful and raw which made me appreciate being alive, too.
But amidst the terror he has portrayed, Khaled Hosseini has weaved the importance of love throughout this masterpiece. It teaches us about bravery, kindness, honesty, honour, humanity and every other emotion that he set to convey. He has brought beauty to Afghanistan as one can visualise every character and every setting; a country that has now been consumed by violence and war for so many years.
I thank Allah سبحانه و تعالى a thousand times for the life He has blessed me with. Being born into a society which does not see the birth of a girl as a punishment, we are so blessed and so fortunate to live in this country where women are being celebrated in all fields; treated like gems with our voices heard. This book changed my perspective on life FOREVER.
Hats off to you, Sir!
Images © Eama Binth Moosa 2019
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