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A Thousand Splendid Suns

“And I remember what Babi would always say - One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hid behind her walls.”

This is the spirit of the Afghans. The spirit of those who have seen glory, pain, torture, agony. The spirit of those who sent their sons to fight the war only to bury them into the ground they once laughed, played and lived on. Afghanistan itself is like a book. Each page was written by the blood of a woman oppressed, by a child who will not have a childhood, by the man who would do anything to survive. The author of the book ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’, Khaled Hosseini himself was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. In all his books, he reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence. Forces that continue to threaten them even today. This book is for the women. It is by the women. Mariam is a fifteen-year-old girl who unwillingly got married to a forty-year-old man, Rasheed. Two decades later, fate brings her together with a girl named Laila, who is like a daughter to her. This beautiful, engaging story shows us how love is nothing without sacrifice. It tells us how like a compass needle pointing north, the world’s accusing fingers will always point towards the women. Mariam and Laila were beaten, locked in rooms and weren’t fed for days together. Their husband, Rasheed would justify everything with the fist of his hand. They couldn’t leave Kabul, for women weren’t allowed to leave their house without the accompany of men. They weren’t allowed to meet Laila’s daughter in the orphanage. Rasheed sold her. Women weren’t allowed to show their faces outside the four walls of their house, laugh, look at the Taliban, wear anything other than black or even talk.And what did Mariam do? She killed Rasheed, while he was choking Laila to death, she killed him. Mariam was shot in the middle of a football ground in front of a thousand Afghans while Laila had started her new life in Murree, Pakistan with her childhood lover, Tariq. Laila and Mariam both had their secrets, dark ones. The past never lets them live their present or even hope for a future.They were just existing. Mariam’s mother committed suicide and Laila’s parents were killed by bombings.Mariam and Laila gave me the strength and courage to fight injustice. I admire the women and their personalities. I love their positivity, their power to forgive. And this is why I fell in love with the book. It is raw, realistic and takes me to another world. We all must find that one piece of writing that totally drowns us in its brilliance. The last chapter made me cry at two in the morning, and I was awake till four. Just because I couldn’t let go. Nor could Laila. Only a year after living in Pakistan, she returned to Kabul in 2002, when things were almost peaceful. Maybe she wanted to be there to count each of the thousand splendid suns that set in Afghanistan.

- Ishani Ray

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