Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Book Review)

Women like us. We endure. It's all we have.

Moving and grips my very heart.This book already sent me to tears as I was just reading a few pages of it. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini; the title was derive from a poem by Saib-e-Tabrizi back in 17th century. Here is a line from the poem:

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

The book unfolds the story of two Afghan women; Mariam and Laila thrown into each others lives amidst their war-torn country. First we get to know the young Mariam who lives with her mother away from the prying people of the city of Herat because she was a harami (a bastard). At a young age she adored her father even though she had to share his love and affection with his three wives and ten other children. Soon, Mariam faced the sorrow of losing her mother and the realization that her father was really ashamed of her. At fifteen, she was forced to marry a troubled and bitter man; Rasheed from Kabul thirty years her senior. This man will eventually beat her and enslaved her because she was not able to give him a child. Then Mariam was forced to welcome the orphaned Laila. At the height of the unrest, Laila lost her parents and was separated from her beloved Tariq. With nothing left for her Laila decided to marry Rasheed to save her child as she believed a lie that Tariq was already dead.

Together, Mariam and Laila built a friendship that knows no blood relation and boundaries. They found solace in each other as they faced unfathomable struggle and pain of being a woman in a country consumed by war, starvation, brutality, inequality and poverty. The book shows you how a woman suffers in silence, fights for a hope so bleak, and trust in love that endures everything.

The story reflects the struggle of Afghan women to fight for their rightful in their society during the climax of war from the leaving of the Soviets to the Taliban rule and up until President Bush declared war against Osama Bin Laden. In the story, Mariam suffered the shame of being an illegitimate child. Laila was forced to give birth through Caesarian without any anesthesia in a hospital with meager facilities. Women were never allowed to travel without a man companion or else they will be beaten. They were force to wear the traditional burqa to hide their faces without any accessories. They fought with man to have equal rights but in vain. This book was dedicated to all Afghanistan women and their plight. God only knows how things right now in Afghanistan are. Surely, things might be totally different now and we can only hope that the women are not suffering like this anymore. A heart can only endure so much, anyway.

Each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer.

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