A Thousand Splendid Suns – Book Review

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

While I was reading The Kite Runner, I wondered how much pain the author himself had to go through in his life to write this story? Its said that you can’t understand the pain of another human if you have not been through the same situation yourself. Each and every word of The Kite Runner made me realize how much pain and anger must be pent up inside the author. And then I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. The Kite Runner was not a book and neither is A Thousand Splendid Suns. They are outlets, vents to tell the world about what happened to the Nation which was once so prosperous and happy. They are outlets for people to know the story of a nation destroyed by its own people.

The story revolves around Mariam and Laila. Mariam is an unwanted child born out of wedlock and lives with her mother in the outskirts of Herat in Afghanistan. Her wealthy father visits her at times. When Mariam is 15 she visits her father’s home against everyone’s wishes. She ends up being married to Rasheed, a widower in Kabul who expects a son from her. When she fails to deliver a baby, she is faced with verbal and physical abuses. Laila, on the other hand, is the daughter of a High school teacher. She had two brothers who are killed in the fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Laila is in love with Tariq, her childhood friend. Things take a bad turn when the civil war comes to Kabul after the victory of the Mujahideen and Tariq leaves Kabul with his parents and Laila is left pregnant and an orphan after her parents are killed in a rocket attack. She lands up in Rasheed’s house and agrees to marry Rasheed for the sake of the child. Mariam is now in Rasheed’s house for more than a decade now and resents Laila but fate has something else in store for the two women.

The most beautiful part of this book is the way the relationship develops between Mariam and Laila. By the time Laila becomes a part of the household, Mariam has endured too much at the hands of Rasheed to bear his second wife. Soon after Laila gives birth to Tariq’s daughter, both the women realise that they are sailing in the same boat. The book is also a story of a nation in transition. It encompasses the political upheavals and what the people went through when the Russians finally left. It tells the story of a beautiful dream which turned into a nightmare. If Hassan was the unforgettable character in The Kite Runner, then Mariam’s doleful life will leave a lump in your throat in this book. And there was one feeling that never left me while I read the book – This could have happened to someone…

Comparisons with Khaled’s earlier book is inevitable and I agree that A Thousand Splendid Suns does not have those kind of twists and turns but it has the same quality which The Kite Runner had. It turns you into a more compassionate, a more understanding and a more humane human. It makes you understand that you are blessed in every sense. And, it makes you understand that there are people out there who deserve a life similar to yours.

Rating – 4.5/5

Author – Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner and the Loot

I have been toying with the idea of writing this post from a long time. Largely because it is about a book about which a lot has been written and said and accepted. It took me almost a year to pick up a copy and buy it. Its hard to describe this syndrome, when you know that a book is good, when you have heard everyone praise it to skies and you still don’t buy it. Its as if your brain is asking you to wait, wait for the right time…

I picked up The Kite Runner at the Crossword store at a mall in Delhi. I started reading it in a bus ride from Delhi to Kurukshetra, where I went to collect my degree. It was a six hour to and fro ride on the Haryana Roadways bus. As soon as I opened the book, I got a stare of disapproval from a “Jat” uncle sitting next to me. 😐

“Chora hoke Navel padhan laaag reya hai ( A boy reading novel!!!!)”. Good old Haryana. 😆

I completely ignored the stare and gave him an intellectual look while adjusting my glasses. As I turned the pages of the book, it completely sucked me in. The simplicity of the book amazed me. The story never feels make-believe, but seems like a true story. This could have happened to someone, I told myself. I grabbed my degree as soon as possible, jumped into a return bus to Delhi and jumped into the novel again. That’s jumping twice. 😐 Next day, I had a flight to Chennai, and I was again lost in the pages of this beautiful book. Lokesh, who was with me in the flight got bored to death, as even the air hostesses were not so patakha. 🙂

The book left a deep impression on me. For days I could not think of anything else. Was Afghanistan actually so beautiful?? How would the sky look when so many kites fly in it?? How would one feel when he knows that he can’t go back and make everything right?? How would one feel when he goes back to his home and tries to find the reminiscence of the past in everything that is destroyed?? Can you really know where a cut kite will land beforehand, as Hassan always did?? The books just throws you in the realms of reality. You just can’t ignore it. Yes, it is a fiction, but its narration encompasses the prosperity, troubles and destruction of a nation. And that is no fiction.

In a way the book is more of a story of Hassan and Sohrab rather than Amir. Hassan’s death shook me more than anything in the book, because while reading the story you start believing that some day Amir and Hassan will meet and everything would be all right. Its the vulnerable, submissive and yet strong character of Hassan which leaves an impression for days. Sohrab’s suicide attempt was another point in the story where I stopped reading and stared at the sunset from my seat in the flight. The ending of the book left me smiling. The last page, at which Amir tells Sohrab – “For you a thousand times over”, is frozen in my mind. I think you can say this line only to someone you really really love.

The book was also a reality check fo me. For a while I was so glad of the kind of world I live in. I thanked God everyday. It also made me realise that time never remains the same. The turmoil which the character of Baba goes through is unimaginable. To work at a gas station after loosing everything you have built up over the years is something which only a strong willed person can do. The book also made me realise that there is no bigger insult than taking someone for granted, specially a person who loves you without any strings attached.

Now before this post gets toooo personal and sentimental I would end it with the news about the “loot”. Before dwelling into that I would like to recommend this book to everyone. Read it, if you still haven’t, you fools!!!

About the Loot :

A few months back I participated in an essay writing competition in my company. The topic was “Should I still be reading books?” and Surprise!!!! I won the second prize. 🙂 You can read the essay here. Anyways, the post is not about the essay, but the aftermath. I won Crossword gift coupons worth 2500 Rs and I was dying to spend it on all the books which I was dying to buy. That’s dying twice. 😐 So I recently got a chance to rummage a Crossword store near my house and bought 8 books. I got quite a few looks that day.

Is-he-crazy-or-what-look

Ummm-he-must-be-rich-look

I-must-not-stand-behind-him-at-the-cash-counter-as-it-will-take-ages-look

God!!!-how-can-someone-waste-2500 bucks-on-books-look (This came from my sister)

WTF-look

Well, I ignored all of them except the second one. 😉

So, here is a look at the LOOT. Ta!!!!Da!!!!

Howwzzzat???

And incidently today is World Book and Copyright day. So, Happy WBCD!!! 🙂

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