I had to wait for the past one week to let all the pondering setiments settle before I could write this review.
I remembered the Titanic mania during 1997. Posters depicting Jack and Rose holding hands at the nose of Titanic were at every corner of the street. It was epic, romantic and stunningly beautiful. But then I didn’t know barbers would be jailed by cuting a hairstyle like Leonardo; I didn’t know that to watch Titanic was a severe crime.
Titanic was dramatic. One does not find Rose or Jack in their everyday life. But the characters under Khaled’s pen were plain, yet extraordinary. A Thousand Splendid Sun was a lingering, rich and vigorious reading experience: I cried for little joyfulness; at times, I was scared to read what I intuitively guessed fate; I cursed some characters so badly as if I really knew them. A good story needs no rhetoric wordings, nor did delicious cookery need excess garnish. Compare to his maiden book Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Sun demonstrated a natural mastery in storytelling and character building and a more matured writing style.
All it has in a sorrowful era are only sorrowful stories.
Through two common Afghan women, I undergo a vicarious experience the social turmoil these women suffered for the past 30 years. When the very survival had been threatened, it striped off any futile social disguise one pitifully holds. It left only the bare nature of human: beautifully angelic, retreating callosity or ruthlessly evil. Every character, every place and every small incident were passionately lined together. The struggle of agitated souls interwoven with others found only in broken promises and destroyed lives. I could actually smell, touch and see the street of Kabul as if I had been there! The sullen, war torn debris in the city, the suffocating Taleban iron curtain, the mud paint refugee camp, the cheerful bean stuffed doll, the merrily young Laila, the shivering handwritten letter from Jalil to Mariam, the staircase climbing inside the mountain sized Buddha statutes were all in front of me, as real as anything could ever be! I was so happy and ran into tears to read that they had finaly embraced a peaceful life at Murree. I was so scare that a small mishap would take that little happiness away. Fortunately, Khaled had some mercy.
“For me it ends here. There is nothing more I want. Everything I’d wished for as a little girl you have already given to me. You and your children have made me so very happy”
I have rarely cried in my life. But I sobbed badly when I read these lines. I could feel the tendering breath of a resigned, weary and brave soul behind these couple of lines. A sour pulse surged my nostril, before I could even notice, warm tears had run down on my cheeks.
I cried for the unkind fate and a strong heart. It made me more sad because she was indifferent to the sour and bitterness. After all the mishaps, sufferings, sacrifices, shattered dreams, the much deserved and latecoming happiness had finaly come. She just let it go. She chose to sacrifice, to die. When all the memories flashes back to her, they did in front of my eye too: Nana, Jalil, afternoon Chai with Laila, childhood dreams, Aziza…That little happiness was all that Mariam needed to fulfill the meaning of her life. Then for the very same reason Mariam chose to stay, Laila chose to go back: to seek the meaning of her existence.