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.


A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf

I read this another novel by Woolf and it was lovely yet again. This is about “Women and Fiction” and what exactly, well, you will find out. What has been done, why it has been done, how it should be done ….it is all there about the women, fiction and women in fiction. She describes and establishes the need for sound income and creative independence of women if she was to write fiction. She argues that how women tend to be influenced by men (since always and domination being the kind of influence) and try to write like a man. She says that women should write like a woman. She also says that every human being has both the male and female parts. In a man, the male part dominates and in a woman, the female part dominates. According to the Woolf, the best writers are those who are able to make these forces exist in harmony and write a man-womanly piece/woman-manly piece.

Off course, some people would view it as a feminist writing. But what I see it as is a writing  from female writer about female writers and an excellent one at that.  There are nuggets of wisdom and intelligent statements flowing all the way. I could not help but appreciate Woolf’s way of thinking and writing style. It’s smooth and complex at the same time. No doubt she is one of the best writers of all time.

I am growing to like her works very much.

Women in Politics

I was just wondering and it struck me that at this point of time, women in politics are pretty major players. Off course, south Asia has been a leader in producing women politicians but now the west is also joining in. In France, a woman leader fought for the prime minister position, Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany, all know that Hillary Clinton is fighting for the post of President of USA (which is apparently the position of ultimate world domination), Benazir Bhutto was pretty much in the race and would have been has she not been killed.

What I am although most excited about is the status of Indian politics where our President is Pratibha Patil ( even if merely a puppet figure, she is THE president of India), Congress  Leader is the most visible invisible hand behind the Prime Minister chair. Then the Chief Minister of Delhi is Sheila Dixit, CM of UP is Mayawati and CM of Rajasthan is Vasundhara Raje Schindia. Mamta Bannerjee and Uma Bharti are also very active politically. And who can forget the firebrand Sushma Swaraj? So, it seems to me Indian politics is coming of age slowly, slowly. We are still pretty far from equal participation but I must say that we have always been leaders in this aspect. What with Indira Gandhi being the first woman prime minister and Sarojini Naidu being the Congress party leader long before other countries were even thinking of it. Only Margaret Thatcher came near but she was also a few years late. Anyway, I so wish that there be some other woman Prime Minister in this country but no one seems to be even near it other than Sonia Gandhi who would not take the post.  I am a good candidate though,I think 😛 hahahaha

It all just makes me so happy to think that I was born a woman in independent India at this time and age. Opportunities are endless and calling from all directions. There is so much to do, so much to sow. I better do something in my own way.