A Thousand Splendid Suns


As a reader, the question “What to pick next?” always confused me. However, I was determined to take up fiction (I am generally averse to fiction) this time and, an obvious choice was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I mentioned it as an obvious choice because of two reasons. One, this has been a long-pending book on my reading list and, second I loved reading The Kite Runner a few years ago.

I have no intentions to write a review for the book. It is one of the highest-rated books that make a permanent mark on the reader’s mind. I decided to jot down a few words here in light of the recent political developments in Afghanistan. The United States army is retreating from Afghanistan and the Taliban has started gripping the country again. Sensing the not-so-good political atmosphere, India withdrew its diplomats last day. The daily news from the country is not so promising or encouraging. The reader of this book will be able to relate to why countries withdraw their diplomats and citizens from Afghanistan.

The story in A Thousand Splendid Suns is set against the tumultuous history of Afghanistan. It depicts the lives of Afghans through the Soviet Invasion, Taliban rule and post-Taliban rebuilding of the country. The struggle of Laila and Mariam for survival depicts the state of affairs, especially during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Pages 270 and 271 sums up their struggle for life – a huge list of forbidden things/activities – singing, dancing, kite flying, playing cards, playing chess, writing books, watching films, painting pictures, attending schools … the list goes on. Women were not allowed to show their faces or attend schools. The last statement told, “Listen. Listen well. Obey”.

The recent news from Afghanistan disturbs me, is it heading towards chaos as described in the story? I sincerely hope that it doesn’t. United Nations and the world should strive to help Afghanistan come out of war and embrace peace.

Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.

– On The Pulse of Morning, Maya Angelou