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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A heart-warming, beautiful story set in Afghanistan of lives of two women, …..

Author: Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Author: Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Set in Afghanistan, is a heart-warming story about the lives of two women. The book is dedicated to the women of Afghanistan, for whom each rising Sun brings new challenges.

The first woman is Mariam, an illegitimate daughter of a maid servant and a rich man in the 1970s in Afghanistan. Her father visits her every week, and she waits eagerly for those visits. One day she goes away to meet her father in his haveli, but she is not allowed to enter the house. Back at her own hut, provided for by her father, Mariam’s mother commits suicide. Now, poor Mariam is treated like an outcaste in her father’s home, and is soon married off to a man forty five years old, when she is just fifteen! The author goes ahead and narrates the pain and agony of Mariam in the city of Kabul, how she miscarries each time.

The next story of Laila, a young girl, born into a family with a modern and broader outlook than the rest of Kabul. And she has a friend named Tariq, a guy who also comes from a similar family background. They have been best buddies since childhood, and this friendship eventually develops into love. The author draws a beautiful portrait of how even amidst the storming of Afghanistan by the forces of war and the Taliban, these childhood sweethearts continue their relationship. They end up getting too intimate, but Tariq goes away to take his family to a safer place in Pakistan.

He asks Laila to marry him, but she can’t bring herself to do it because her own father is in too frail a condition to move. Eventually she loses her own parents to the war.

It is Mariam and her husband who brings her home, feed her, take care of her. Eventually, Mariam’s husband decides to marry Laila, as he considered it to be a sin to keep a young unmarried woman home. And Laila discovers that she is pregnant with Tariq’s child, so she agrees to the marriage. Here begins a painful roller coaster ride for both Mariam and Laila jailed in the same household, with a rather unloving and orthodox husband. Laila’s husband realizes that the child wasn’t his, and tricks Laila into believing that Tariq is dead. She gives birth to a daughter Aziza who is actually Tariq’s. This was considered sinful in the household and in turn Laila gets beaten and mercilessly tortured.

The rollercoaster ride of four lives – Mariam, Rasheed (Mariam and Laila’s husband), Laila and Tariq, and the kids – Aziza and Zamani. You feel the pain each time one of the characters undergoes pain and agony.

The later part of the book happens to be the most interesting depicting the utter poverty, and penury brought about partly by the war and partly by the drought, unliveable conditions set down by the Taliban, worsened further by the calamities that happen in the lives of the first family of the story. It shows how Laila and Mariam resort to desperate means to keep themselves and their kids alive.

The books paints a picture of condition of women in Afghanistan before the Taliban stormed it, during the attacks by the American troops post-9/11, amidst conditions as rigid as, not going out of the house alone, no makeup, no hospitals for women, no schools for girls, etc. The author, however, keeps the hope alive in the hearts of the readers, because at each step, he keeps reminding the readers something or the other, through which they shall feel that good shall always be victorious over evil, and goodness shall always prevail. I would suggest this book for all those readers who would want a real hard-core book, or if you like reading women’s sagas.The book will never leave you disappointed, it will surprise you, make you smile, make you sad for the characters in the book.

The author also has another best seller, The Kite Runner, to his credit.

Bhavi Patel, IRMA, Anand

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