A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, depicting their lives in the final quarter of the last century and the first few years of this one, as their country experiences two foreign invasions, civil strife, drought and famine. The two serve as proxies for the women of this troubled land, who have been victimized by most of those in power over that period, most notably the Taliban, whose religious fanaticism placed women in a status little better than that of slaves.
The story begins by telling us the life of Mariam, an illegitimate child, the product of Jalil, a very wealthy man and his house servant. Since she was illegitimate she couldnt live with her father and her mother, Nana, was provided a hut on the outskirts of Herat where she was to take care of Mariam. The story tells us the kind of relationship Jalil and Mariam had, and on one birthday Mariam asked Jalil to take her to see Pinocchio with her siblings, Jalil hesitated but finally agreed. The next day Jalil did not show up and Mariam made the decision to go to visit him; her mother was against it and accuses Mariam of betraying her and insists shell die if Miriam leaves. Mariam gets furious to Nana and leaves to Herat, the place where Jalil lived. When she arrived to the house Jalil does not wants to see her, and she stays waiting for hours until Jalil sends his driver to take her back home. When she returned to her house she found out her mother had committed suicide by hanging herself on the tree in their porch. With no one to take care of her she lived in Jalils house but was married off a short while after to a shoemaker, Rasheed from Kabul with the sole purpose of getting rid of her and saving Jalils family from shame. During their marriage Rasheed became abusive when Mariam wasnt physically able to provide him with a child.
In the same neighborhood in Kabul lived a girl named Laila who was very close to a family friend, Tariq, a Pashtun. She had a father named Babi, her mother named Mammy and a brother that had died on war. Since the civil war had started, Babi wanted to leave Kabul and go to Pakistan, but Mammy didnt wanted to until one day Laila went out of the house towards the gate, and a bullet passed right next to her. For this time Tariq had already leaved Kabul. The day they were leaving, a rocket hit their house, leaving Laila as an orphan.
Right after shes taken in by Rasheed and Mariam, her neighbors. Rasheed tricks Laila into marrying him hoping she will bear the child Mariam failed to do so. After a time Laila gave birth to Tariqs child Aziza, hoping Rasheed would fall for it however he had his suspicions and became abusive towards Laila as well.
It passed few time and someone went the Rasheeds house to go and talk to Laila about Tariq. He told her about that he had been injured and that he was in the hospital, he told her that sometimes Tariq talked about her, until someday he unfortunately died, so he wanted to tell her personally about what had happened. After a few hardships between Mariam and Laila they soon became like sisters.
After a long time of waiting Laila decides that she wants to leave that house and she wants Mariam to go with her. They went to a bus station and they need to find a man that is willing to accompany them in the trip, because it was not allow to the women the travel alone. When they finally saw a man of their pleasantness they told him what was happening and the man in some way accepted, but when they were going to get to the bus the police stopped them. They asked them where they were going, why wasnt a man with them, and after Mariam and Laila told them why, the police made them go back to Rasheed. After they got in the house, they both got beaten almost to the point of death by Rasheed.
After a few years later, the Talibans got into Kabul and the poorness grew. Also Laila had the birth of Zalmai, Rasheeds son. And he unable to Unable to support his family after his store burnt down Rasheed leaves Aziza in an orphanage. Sometimes Laila went to the orphanage by herself because a Rasheed did not wanted to accompany her, so every time she went, she got beaten by the Talibans, but she didnt matter because the only thing she wanted to do is to see her daughter ok.
One day Laila realizes that Tariq is still alive. Tariq went to visit her to her house, where Zalmai couldnt behave himself. Tariq starts talking about a man who shared his cell. He had a cousin who was publicly flogged for painting flamingos. The Taliban had taken offense at the birds bare legs, so the painter painted a pair of pants on every single bird. He laughed, though, because he had painted the pants in water colors and so after the Taliban was gone, he would be able to remove all the pants. Laila just cant stop looking at him, because he has turned into an adult. He has one tooth missing, too, and he is starting to lose his hair. Laila tells him what she thought had happened to him and his parents and Tariq can only shake his head.
Afterwards Tariq left the house, Rasheed got home and one of first things he heard was Zalmai telling him about Laila and Tariq being downstairs alone. Then Rasheed send Zalmai upstairs and because he didnt want to, he had to taken him over the elbow and forces him up the stairs. He comes back down with his belt in his hand. Without a word, he begins beating Laila. Laila fights back, but he swings the weapon again and again. The next thing we know is that Rasheed is on top of Laila struggling her, and that Mariam seeing this graved a shovel and hits him to death. This for them was a relief, but also a problem because they didnt knew how to get away.
After that Mariam took the blame of killing Rasheed, and tells Laila to leave with the kids to a safer place. As a result of Mariam taking the blame, she gets into prison, being the only one in there because of a violent crime and also being a kind of celebrity for that. The Taliban wanting her to pay for her crimes stoned her until she was death.
The next part of the book is about how Laila, Tariq, and the kids handle the things to get to a better place for them, all the things they do to reach their goal. At the end of the story the Taliban regime finally came to an end, and the family returned to Kabul, now Laila is waiting for her third child which will be named Mariam.
In my opinion this is an excellent book. It tells us about the society, and how they lived. The book is so strong; you never expect what is going to happen after every chapter. Also it tells us about the way the women are treated, about the way they are discriminated, and what they need to do to keep alive. I really enjoyed the end; it tells us that even though we pass through hard times, we need to know how to handle them, and know what to do in the right time.
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