A Thousand Splendid Suns

Book Review by Anjali Grover

I am not sure if a single book can change one’s life. It hasn’t happened with me so far, but yes, every book I have read has enriched my life in its own little ways. Some touched me on the surface, some penetrated deep down and have stayed within. One such story that remains in my heart is ‘A thousand Splendid Suns’ authored by Khalid Hosseini.

It’s a stirring tale of two Afghan women. Mariam is an illegitimate child with hopes of being adopted by her father and being accepted in his family. After her mother hangs herself to death, Mariam is forced to marry against her wishes. She submissively surrenders to her 30-year senior husband, serves him for years and is rewarded with the shock of his second marriage.

And then there is contrasting Laila, a good looking and educated individual who grows up in Kabul. Laila is tricked to marry Rasheed (Mariam’s husband) and that is when destiny unites both Laila and Mariam to face the good, the bad and the ugly.

My heart goes out for women like Mariam and Laila who go through the endless pains of psychologically draining marriage and the terror of war-torn country, But they still stand strong and tall as an epitome of love and sacrifice and refuse to give up to misery and despair.

The story moved me as a woman, a wife, and a mother.  Mariam, Laila and innumerable women like them shall continue to shine in my heart with the bursting radiance of ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns.’

And now this very beautiful poem written in the 17th century that describes the beauty of Kabul and was the inspiration behind the title of this book:



Saib-e-Tabrizi 17th Century (Translated by Dr Josephine Davis)

Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains
And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies

Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes
But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

My song exhalts her dazzling tulips
And at the beauty of her trees, I blush

How sparkling the water flows from Pul-I-Bastaan!
May Allah protect such beauty from the evil eye of man!

 Khizr chose the path to Kabul in order to reach Paradise
For her mountains brought him close to the delights of heaven

From the fort with sprawling walls, A Dragon of protection
Each stone is there more precious than the treasure of Shayagan

Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

Her laughter of mornings has the gaiety of flowers
Her nights of darkness, the reflections of lustrous hair

Her melodious nightingales, with passion sing their songs
Ardent tunes, as leaves enflamed, cascading from their throats

And I, I sing in the gardens of Jahanara, of Sharbara
And even the trumpets of heaven envy their green pastures



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