Khalid Hosseini is a true storyteller and his second book just rolled off his tongue. It has a perfect pace with the political and social backdrop moving with the story as it effortlessly proceeds through times. Beginning with Mariam’s childhood to her sudden adult-phase and marriage post her mother’s death when Laila is just born, her childhood, adolescence, their marriage to the same man beginning with the initial hostility between them and moving to the warm camaraderie they share, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a compelling read. The novel closes down with Mariam killing their husband Rasheed as he brutally tries to kill Laila, her execution, Laila’s reunion with Tariq ending with their work with an orphanage and Laila expecting her third child, who if born as a girl, will be named- Mariam.
Quotable lines include –
“Let me tell you something. A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’ bleed, it won’t stretch out to make room for you.”
“Learn this now and learn it well, my daughter: Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”
“He liked the enchanting sounds the Arabic words made as they rolled off his tongue. He said they comforted him, eased his heart. “You can summon them in your time of need, and they won’t fail you. God’s words will never betray you.”
“Laila came to believe that of all the hardships a person had to face non was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
“Her eyes watered, her heart took flight. And she marveled at how, after all these years of rattling loose, she had found in this little creature the first true connection in her life of false, failed connections.”
“It was not so bad, Mariam thought, that she should die this way. Not so bad. This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings”
Despite the happy ending, all is certainly not well, if it just ends well. Or it feels like that. For those who live tough lives small pleasures or happy endings seem great but to fortunate people like most of us living each day fussing about little things, “touch life” is unimaginable.
The book inspires endurance and edifies “living the present”. Hosseini does not emboss the horrors described in it but states them factually and moves on with his story. To most of us, determining whether we love someone is usually a self-centered decision based on the wobbly good feeling someone gives us but Hosseini portrays love with the sense of duty, patience and sacrifice it deserves to make it endure.
Have you ever noticed how people with limited options and futures that they no control of are usually strong people? It is because when life gives options, the indecisiveness cripples one to go forward until the choice seems just right but in a choice-less life, one just has do whatever comes.
A must-read that once read should be reflected upon. Further on, wake up each day and feel lucky.