A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns – Khaled Hos­seini

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Eliebox

Ihave trav­elled many times to Afghanistan and Pak­istan in the last few books I’ve read and Khaled Hos­seini para­dox­i­cally broke and cap­tured my heart with “The Kite Run­ner”. With “A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns” he did it all over again. Hos­seini is a pro­lific writer. The sto­ries, both ini­tially set in Afghanistan are quite dif­fer­ent yet equally heart-wrench­ing and thought­pro­vok­ing.

“A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns” be­gins in the life of young Mariam, a girl born out of wed­lock to a woman suf­fer­ing from pe­ri­odic men­tal dis­or­der. She spent the first fif­teen years of her life in a small wooden house near a stream with her mother. Mariam’s fa­ther, whom she adored, vis­ited her once a week, feed­ing all her mind’s fan­tasies with his sto­ries and de­scrip­tions. But not once had he brought her to the places he de­scribed: his house with many chil­dren and three wives, his cin­ema and the splen­did city of Kabul. Even­tu­ally Mariam con­vinces him to take her to his cin­ema, but when he did not show up, she took mat­ters into her own hands. From that day, life as she knew it spi­raled its way to the depths of hell’s hottest fires. She learnt what her mother rang in her head for fif­teen years: The women of their ser­vant class only knew one thing, and it was how to en­dure. Mariam was mar­ried off three days af­ter her mother’s sui­cide un­der a tree out­side their lit­tle house. She and her hus­band now lived in Kabul.

Mariam’s neigh­bour gave birth to a blonde haired, green eyed beauty named Laila the day be­fore Afghanistan be­came the Is­lamic State of Afghanistan. Laila grew up in an Afghanistan that be­came more vi­o­lent by the day. Con­flict was com­mon be­tween the na­tion’s peo­ple, be­cause of re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal be­liefs. Bombs and mis­siles rained on the city of Kabul and she and her child­hood friend Tariq saw it in the dis­tance and heard of the peo­ple killed. Laila’s mother grieved while she missed her sons who were fighting the Soviet sol­diers and Laila’s fa­ther en­cour­aged her to ex­cel in her school­ing. Fi­nally, the Sovi­ets left Afghanistan but the bomb­ings in­creased to the point Laila and her fam­ily felt the urge to flee Kabul.

Hos­seini makes many un­nerv­ing, stom­ach churn­ing plot twists in his novel which re­quires full at­ten­tion of the heart and soul. Read­ing “A Thou­sand Splen­did Suns”, I wan­dered through the streets of Afghanistan as a woman, into a life I would never have been able to sur­vive. The novel shows the dis­heart­en­ing hypocrisy ly­ing in the laws against women and the rights they are de­prived of daily. Khaled Hos­seini once again evokes aware­ness of the dif­fer­ence be­tween hu­man worlds while keep­ing grace and poise in his writ­ing.

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