A Thousand Splendid Suns

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Afghanistan has always been in the news. the plight of the people there, the mentality of the rulers, the laws that are implemented etc are not hidden from the rest of the world. 

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in Afghanistan speaks volumes about Mariam and Laila. the author Khaled Hosseini brings out the varied aspects of the lives of these two protagonists in a vivid and lucid way. 

 

The story opens with a young Mariam trying to find the meaning of ‘harami’.  She is clueless on why her mother calls her so. Her mother’s words that women are used and blamed for every small thing that happens around them, initially makes no sense to her. The same statement makes a startling revelation towards the end and Mariam feels that she has attained enlightenment. 

 

The story progresses with Mariam being pushed into an unwanted wedding and in her new place, she meets the mother of Laila. Mariam struggles to cope up with her husband Rasheed’s crude beliefs of wearing a burqa. She suffers multiple miscarriages and bears his wrath and physical and mental abuse. 

 

Laila, our second protagonist, is born to a professor’s family in Kabul, which seemed to progressive at that time. She is encouraged to study by her progressive parents. Situations change when her brothers are killed and her family is devastated. Her mother finds it difficult to cope up with the loss. After a lot of contemplation, the family decides to move to Islamabad. Laila’s friend, Tariq and his family decide to flee when the war was announced in their area. During the war Laila loses her parents and she ends up marrying Rasheed. Mariam is left in a state of confusion and shock. 

 

The later part of the story talks about the struggle of these two women who display a rare camaraderie. Their thirst for independence is evident with the risks that they were ready to take. 

 

Khaled Hosseini has depicted the gender bias and the trauma that the women and underprivileged people in Afghanistan go through in a heart wrenching manner. He also showcases the resilience that was born out of this trauma struck life that makes the protagonists take some drastic and brave steps. 

 

Mariam and Laila continue to haunt the reader even days after the book is read. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a must read for every book lover. 

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