Even when unemployed, a Saturday is a Saturday with built in permissions. Add rain and grayness for the complete luxury to quietly read all day and night. I read ' A Thousand Splendid Suns' yesterday. I just got to reading it; it's been out for a few years. I don't go too much into the plot, but if you want to read it, you probably should skip this. I'm just so full, I had to write about it.
It was quiet in my neighborhood and building. I wonder if most people stayed in bed, read or watched movies. I was so absorbed that I simply didn’t register anything out there because the world I was in didn’t feel quiet.
I fiercely hoped that Mariam would find a way out of marriage to Rasheed. Once in, there seemed to be a chance that he could be kind enough most of the time. He didn’t choose that path. When he forced her to chew pebbles, the desperation seemed complete. I had to stop for a bit.
When I met Laila, the story line seemed frivolous after the heartache of the relentlessly abusive life Mariam led. That didn’t last though. How much violence can a person survive?
I had to stop again when they were stopped from escaping.
The seemingly absurd yet horrifically violently tragic history of Afghanistan’s recent history is clearly presented; the occupation by the Soviets, then the tribal civil war, then the Taliban’s psychotic lock down. When I read the list of Taliban rules in the context of these characters having to live that way, I felt panicked and overwhelmed. When Laila took Aziza to the orphanage so she wouldn’t starve to death, I sobbed out loud. And continued as Laila never gave up visiting her despite the brutality she endured.
I felt unsettled and confused that both Laila and Mariam felt a kind of acceptance when they were first forced to wear a burqa. I was surprised that I slightly comprehended their feelings about it. When a person’s identity is obliterated, when their humanness is denied, when they are forbidden education, travel, work, medical care, independence, and removed from half the population; when they spend most of every hour of every day in their own homes, cut off, isolated except for their husband who by law is permitted to rape, beat and torture them; to be covered in public can be a relief from the shame of the life they’re leading. If they’ve managed to keep their selves alive in their souls, then the burqa can be another layer of insulation, protection. Or maybe, they’ve lost and been forced to give up so much that wearing it is the least of their concerns. It’s terrifying to absorb how our fellow humans live.
The book really speaks to the uncrushable spirit of some people and what they will endure when they love another, whether it’s a friend, a child or a lover.
It’s an amazing story; Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer and story teller. I’m relieved that I’m finished the book, but part of me is still there.