A Thosuand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

A book review after long. Picked up a book after a long time and what a read!!!

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,                                                                                                                     Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

This is taken from a persian poet Saeb-e-Tabrizi’s poetry in the seventeenth century and this is what Khaled Hosseini bases his story on abut two women of Afghanistan and how they struggle through life.
I started the book last night and could not put it down until I had finished. Such was the engagement. In 6.5 hours flat, I sucked all that was there in this book to be offered, most of which was the pain of the two women protagonists. The book is so moving that more than once I found myself wiping my eyes and feeling a cringe in the heart at other times. What makes it all the more poignant is that I know although it is fiction I am reading, the truth that is out there is not a whole lot different from it, may be even worse.

Right from her childhood what Mariam has seen is crushing of her hopes, deprivation of the smallest possible pleasures she asked for, and abandonment. She is the embarrassment for her father, misery to her mother, a carrier of a boy and a cleaner to her husband. She is unwanted, despicable even and all that for no fault of hers except that she is an illegitimate child which she could not have controlled. Then, there is Laila, who has her majnoo of the adoloscent days but political turmoil sees to it that she is sucked back into the hell of Rasheed, bear him and live a life of nothing but hate, pain and misery. In the opression of Rasheed, both find companionship. Mariam finds a daughter which she never had and Laila, a mother. Her own mother had no time and place for her in her dreams of her sons returning home from Jihad.

The charcaters that the author has sketched are complete, human and pulling. But the biggest charcater that is there is Kabul and Afghanistan and the continual rape and torture of its lands sometimes by soviets, sometimes by Mujahideen, sometimes by taliban, sometimes by the US. The rulers and oppressors may change but what remains the same is the oppressed. Very neatly and subtly, the author draws a comparison between the Land that is Afghanistan and the women of Afghanistan ( the thousand spelndid suns behind her wall). Note how Kabul has been referred to as ‘her’ here. And the thousand splendid suns are the women who born, live and die behind the walls of the homes.

In the end, Mariam choses death far more readily than a life which she could only hope for but never even get close.

I was so moved, so touched.There are a few technical glitches in the novel, like Mariam dreams of women working in offices, tables and chairs there, which I feel are a little inconsistent given that she lives almost a solitary existence and noone tells her about those things. Then there is a situation where Tariq climbs a tree. Given that he has just one limb, it seems far fetched. But these minor quibbles aside, the books is as splendid as the thousand splendid suns.


Ghosts of the Christmas Past

I guess everyone has to face that in their lifetimes at least once. The coming back of the past memories, friends, occasions that stir up something melancholy in the heart and it burns. Shows us the ghosts of the Christmas past. It happened to me this year for the first time. Primarily, because there were ghosts to be seen: of unspoken truths, of un-confessed pain, of unsaid misery and the silent bearing of it all. It had to come.
Let me tell you though, it was fantastic to meet them. It was fantastic to say hitherto unspoken things out loud and it was very nice to face them and be able to look in the eye, even if for a moment or two.

Such is life. One cannot escape: the past, the present or the future. One can only embrace and this Christmas I did. I embraced my ghosts and surprisingly, they were gentle and caring and they let me go.
In the new year, I will make new ghosts, which will be past the next to next year and then I want not to be afraid of them. I will make sure I am not.

Indian representation only for Indian citizens

The recent decision of the government to restrict the representation of India by the residents of India only, how good do you think the decision is?

I think it is okay. The impact is not that much since there are only 5 players who have really been affected and I am assuming a lot of wannabes will be. But at the face of it, I find it a good move. The main reason for my saying this is that the this will really promote indigenous talent. Say what you will, but those who are born and brought up outside are not really indigenous. They would be sort of reaping the benefits from both countries. Given the state of sports in the country, we could only do good to give more opportunities and benefits to the players who dedicate themselves to these sports in these tough and rough conditions.
I understand it is a tricky situation to be a dual citizen, but I don’t know if the decision is that wrong. One major drawback definitely is the fact that the better trained players from the foreign will be missed from the Indian contingent. But, that should act as a stimulus. Should it not?

I hope it is all for the best.

P.S.: A very interesting observation I made while seeing the comments on the artcile about the Sports Ministry’s decision on Times if India page. Out of all the comments, there is just one person OCI( Overseas Citizen of India) who supports it. All the other foreign residing Indians have been fiercely critical and all the Indian Nationals have been supportive. Interesting!

captain uncool??

I think that Dhoni’s decision to bat on and on and on and keeping the centuries of Yuvraj and Gambhir in mind rather than declaring the match and try to win it is in a bad taste. Personal interests coming up hmm. If they had declared earlier, they would have had a fair chance to win the game fiven that the score was already 350+. I think that now drawing is a compromise with a lesser result and the fact that it was done for records(which unfortunately did not even get made) has made it very negative. That was uncool of Dhoni.

Not Just Another Brick In the Wall

The Wall is mending itself – is the headline in most of the sports news. We are talking about Rahul Dravid here who after a year long dry spell, deep trough, scored a 136 in Mohali today. The runs came slow and steady but they came and brought with each of them a return to his original self and confidence. He said it was relieving to be contributing to the team and doing what you can do with the bat. that is why it is not just another milestone ( or a brick in the wall) for him. It is a significant milestone. I can empathize totally. Just imagine that for a man who is in the top 5 most run scorers of the world, it would be like to be said to have run dry, to have cast doubts on himself from critics and fans alike. Such is the nature of failure. Everyone doubts even the previously established facts. One has to reestablish and the circle of non performance is viscious. It sucks you deeper and deeper. It is a demon which feasts on one’s confidence and spawns self doubt and nrevousness. What else could explain the continuous faltering of Dravid at the crease who is considered the maestro of technique? Earlier, even on his worst days he at least stuck on the crease without giving his wicket: hence, THE WALL. But of late, he was out within an over or two. To have him say today that Gambhir’s runs took pressure off him made me feel very bad. This is not the Dravid we have all loved and praised to heaven. He is just a shadow of that one. But the shadow is returning to merge with the body and it will unite gloriously. He will shine and outshine others.

It is a happy day for Dravid, for me and for India. We are your walls here Dravid. Stay strong

Looking Back

It is that time of the year. And I have the time and the composure to look back and front both at the same time while living in this exact moment of the present. December is the month for reminiscing all that happened in the past and for making plans about what is to come.

For me, this was a year of great tribulations and some huge lessons. In the least, it has been jarring on the mind. Mentally, a very engaging year. 2008, as it has been, will be one of the most important years of my life. I have learned, I have experienced, I have felt and I have made peace with what I so dreaded: the consequences of my actions. I have grown much more than I grew in the 4 years before that. I became what I am absolutely not: dark, brooding, sullen, distanced and aloof. I discovered a thing called routine. Some ambition came back too. I made my heart vulnerable and cried with my feelings sometimes. I allowed myself to get weak. I insulated for protection and then took the full punch and I tried to bear it. It has been extremely tough and terrible at times. But, on the whole, I think positivity overshadowed the whole and now I have myself on the track. I am certain about things. I am thinking clearly. I am working clearly.

This is sort of analogous to rehabilitation. In fact, that is what it is. I am rehabilitating, in my very own way. I have discovered some positive things about me. Off course the negatives too but being the too critical self that I am, I knew the negatives since long. I now know, that I am very strong. I can face anything. I can feel the pain but I can survive. I am ambitious. No doubts about that. I am positive and optimistic on the whole. And I am courageous. I also renewed my faith in the goodness of people in general. I also learned the value of a healthy friendship and the curses of a rotten one.

The point is that after all that has happened this year, I can certainly say that I have come out as a changed person and as far as I think, for the better.

The best thing that happened was that I bonded amazingly with my family. They are my rock. They are super supportive and the best people one can ask for. Irritating sometimes but who is not. My family is a blessing to me. Other than that, a few close friends, whose silent support, understanding and tolerance has made me garteful for their presence in my life. I have learnt who are the ones to keep and cherish and who are the seasonal ones. Once again I was very unexpectedly surprised to find that there is more goodwill in the world than we believe to be.

That I can tolerate and live with myself has been established.I can survive in isolation but not for long. It is good for a sabbatical but for a life long planning, no. I need people too. I am coming back.

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