Behind The Veils Of Yemen

Book Review by Anjali Grover
BEHIND THE VEILS OF YEMEN is a memoire of an American missionary family’s experience in Yemen. I’s a story of Audra Grace Shelby’s (author) courage to fight the odds, take risks, and step out of comfort zones to venture into the unknown both geographically and culturally.

The story, however, doesn’t seem to be standout as well as the title of the book does- the narration of events being quite at a surface level and failing to delve deeper into author’s perspectives, feelings and insights. Additionally, the idea of the missionary that is geared towards ‘conversion’ rather than serving the society for the bigger good seems myopic and utterly incomprehensible, particularly in context of growing globalization and diversity.

Statistically, Yemen is one of the Arab world’s poorest country. Issues such as slavery and ‘Khat’ addiction, corruption, unemployment and illiteracy continue to chew it to ‘nothingness’ as a termite. It needs some serious work and perhaps collective efforts of many shall slowly but successfully be able to pull it out of the miseries and ill practices. As I write this review, Yemen suffers political turmoil, war and human catastrophe. I am too naïve to understand the politics behind it, all I wish for is peace and harmony.

Mohira- A Woman’s Journey

Book Review by Anjali Grover
MOHIRA- A WOMAN’S JOURNEY is a blend of aspirations, love and betrayal, the efforts to keep the nuptial bonds intact and then liberating oneself to start afresh.

Mohira is an Uzbek who lives in south Kyrgyzstan. She carries some scars of ethnic tension and divide between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks and aspires to settle in the US someday.

As the fate has it, Mohira falls in love with a peace corp and moves to the US. The move however brings with it stork cultural differences and adjustment issues. Mohira tries her best to adjust, but some engagements are beyond her understanding. Her marital relationship gets strained and bitter over time. This lands her in a divorce situation and her idea of ‘Living the American Dream’ ultimately comes to a bitter end.

Shattered and with nowhere to go, Mohira builds herself up from the scratch. With the help of her childhood friend, and the love and trust of her family, Mohira finally collects herself back and is stronger, determined and all set that ever to turn over a new leaf in her life.

The story is relatable and perhaps the journey of many women like Mohira, just that it ends differently for each of them. My takeaway from the book is: be good and do everything you possibly can to fix the issues in relationships. Be flexible, understanding and considerate but not at the cost of self-esteem and self-respect. It takes immense courage to do what Mohira did, it isn’t easy to part ways with those you love. But when enough is enough, it is perhaps best to move on.

Wreckage

Book Review By Anjali Grover

Authored by Emiley Bleeker, Wreckage is a story of survival and secrets.

Two plane crash survivors, Lillian and David, are stranded on an Island for two years. When rescued and flown back home, both decide to keep a few secrets from their families. After a series of exerting lies, they finally open-up and are off the burden that had been sitting on their chest plaguing them with undue anxiety.

The subtle chemistry between Lilian and Dave is interesting. They connect in the first instance and it stays throughout. There is a sweet mischievous play of head and heart, each taking turns to win over the other. Even after their conscious decision to return to their own married lives after the rescue, they seem emotionally inseparable. For some time it seems that, if only they had the slightest possibility of being together again, they perhaps would not think twice. But there is a lot at stake, and they finally choose family over ‘heart.’ A neat, non-controversial, selfless and safe climax to the story.

The book also touches upon one of the inborn and well fed human tendencies called ‘FEAR.’ The fear of ‘what ifs’ and the associated nasty stories that we weave within ourselves and the fear that ‘the world won’t understand.’ Once caught in this downward spiral, it just leads one towards negativity, guilt, lies and secrets.

Though the book does not offer enough to keep one intrigued., it can be considered a simple one-off read with a ‘happy’ end.

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:

 

KABUL

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
And 
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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