This book follows the life of two women: Mariam and Laila they struggle to survive and stay afloat in a not-so-hospitable society of war-torn Afghanistan. Mariam is an illegitimate child and suffers from both the stigma surrounding her birth along with the abuse she faces throughout her marriage.
Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam’s husband. This is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban, to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms.
“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”Saib-e-Tabrizi
The utter pain and grief in the hearts of the women in the book, the oppression faced by women in Afghanistan each day, the horrors of the Taliban rule, and finally, the heart-breaking spark of genuine innocence and kindness in each one of the afghans; Hosseini has poured out words as though from the strings of his very heart.
To most of the world, Afghanistan is just another war- trodden country with anarchy and illiteracy spewing everywhere. But this novel reveals to us what we’ve been too insouciant to ever care about; that the Afghani’s have a life too, that their souls are scarred and minds at wit’s end to save their beloved ones. The characters in this book stick to us for a very long time, as though reminding us the millions of things we do not show enough gratitude for.
I have never before read a book that is filled with this extent of heartfelt pain and misery. The inhumane way of life Afghani women are forced to follow, the daily iniquities they are forced to put on with; it indeed expresses the thousands of splendid suns within the Afghani’s whose lives were wasted on a war that they never wanted. But what this book also tells us, is that despite everything, life is a journey always worth undertaking, that hope is the only way through the Tartarean gloom of life’s darkest moments.
The denial of basic rights to the women of Afghanistan even today is outrageous to all the feminists across the globe. But to the women of Afghanistan themselves, it is a rule of life, one that they impelled to live with; for life must go on, Zendagi migzara.
This book teaches us to live with gratitude for all that we have, with hope that the worst will pass by too, deep in the trenches of Afghanistan and above all, leaves a bit of Laila and Mariam within each of our hearts for times to come.
Quotes that render us speechless from this book……
“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
“A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing, Mariam. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed. It won’t stretch to make room for you.”
“Laila has moved on. Because in the end, she knows that’s all she can do. That and hope.”
“And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion. And whenever those twin poisonous flowers began to sprout in the parched land of that field, Mariam uprooted them. She uprooted them and ditched them before they took hold.”
“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”