How can something resonate so much with your soul and shake you up to the core? The words written inside this novel do much more than just affecting the psyche of the reader. It is positively damaging for the heart. It took me about two weeks to finish the book, partly because i wanted to imbibe each and every word. Also, to tell the truth, i was stalling. Every time i picked up this sordid tale full of brutality, i had to stop after a few pages! How could i continue reading? There was so much pain etched in every single line, on every single black mark, on every page!
I am not an excessively sentimental guy. I have seen a lot of sad stories unfold in various other books. What made this one so difficult to read was it being true, real. There have been a lot of incidents all around us like the ones mentioned in this book. They still happen, even in the best of nations, the poshest of localities, the most upscale homes. Most of these incidents are ignored. They die before seeing the light of day. What remains are the victims left behind and their muffled cries.
The novel tells the story of ‘Mariam’ and ‘Laila’, two women born in different eras, but somehow in the same circumstances. The story unfolds amidst backdrop of a war torn Afghanistan. In numerous places it describes the beauty of this country: the high mountains, plains and bustling markets, but sooner rather than later it paints the picture with blood of innocents. Taliban has been a blot on humanity, but even before it, there must’ve been something that resulted in its birth. The writer tries to explain it as meticulously as he can and succeeds to a great extent.
Khaled Hosseini concocts a deeply moving story about bonds. About family, friendship, love and hatred. A story that shows how happiness can find you in the most unexpected places, in the littlest of events. It also depicts that no matter how much grief or misery is around, humanity always triumphs all odds. It strengthens the readers’ belief that women are far stronger than anyone can imagine.
The author has a distinct writing style that blends Farsi words with English. Not only did the novel help me enrich my English vocabulary, but also taught me words like Hamshira, kolba, jo, dukhtar, tashakor and many more. The story shook me more than i imagined it would.
Lines like “A man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.” make you think about feminism and its dire need in today’s society. I was genuinely surprised how a man could portray women rights issues so easily and with such fluidity. There are multiple points of view about women, men and their interaction. They all run simultaneously. It is up to the readers which philosophy they want to believe.
The characters of Rasheed, Jaleel, Tariq, Nana and Mullah Faizulla represent different schools of thought. They, along with many others, sometimes sadden you, sometimes make you glad that you are not there and other times make you ponder upon the fickleness of life as we know it.
With every page, the story will break your heart in a million little pieces, but you’ll still smile, hoping for bliss in the next page. This novel is a masterpiece and I cannot recommend it enough. It is like an Afghani version of the Japanese classic: ‘Grave of Fireflies’.
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”