The Sun under the Burqa —-Book view of A Thousand Splendid Sun It’s not easy to write an essay about some famous books. As the saying goes, the first to describe a girl as a rose is a genius, and the second one is an idiot. After so many readers and critics have talked about them, it seemed to be an “impossible mission” to write something new. Unfortunately, today I am going to be the most stupid Ethan Hunt. I have to describe a girl as a rose in this impossible mission. I want to talk about A Thousand Splendid Suns. Being the second composition of Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns has received samples of praise.
Time magazine’s Lev Grossman described it as a “dense, rich, pressure-packed guide to enduring the unendurable”. Jonathan Yardley also said that it’s a book “better than The Kite Runner”. They do have reasons to feel this way. But how could I describe my personal feeling about it? Good! The first time I saw the book, A Thousand of Splendid Suns, was two years ago. I was hanging out in a book shop, and it was not sunny. In a thundering and lightning day, I saw this book, which I guess suggested that this story would make a storm in my heart. Actually it was not a comfortable experience to read A Thousand Splendid Suns.
When reading it, I could not stop walking around in the room to relieve those emotions which are seething within. At first I tried to guess the reason why the author named the story“a thousand of splendid suns”. I imagined the image that the beautiful girls and women are dancing under the Mid-latitude warm sunshine. Their exquisite golden dresses, those buildings and streets are shining enthrallingly, just a like a thousand splendid suns. That’s how I define the word “splendid” , so childish and puerile. When I began to read it, the book reserves this definition completely. Where are those splendid suns? ” I asked myself. I can only see a desperate mother, two tragic marriages and thousands of women struggling in an extremely low social status under heavy chains of male authority and religious shackles. I clearly remember that when the afghan Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamian by dynamite I was sitting at the supper table with my parents watching the news broadcast. But until now I began to realize that at that moment, two even thousands of women were suffering from the same dynamite which made the tragedy of Buddhas of Bamian.
I began to realize that it’s a story of old society happened in this new modern society where people are talking about fashion clothes or new superstars. It’s too true to be true. Being aha lami, Mariam lives in a kolba on the outskirts of Herat with her desperate mother, receiving and refusing her mother’s words, “happiness is impossible”. Her father Jalil always come to see her on every Thursday. Jalil is a good storyteller. He talks with Mariam, drinks tea with her and gives her some little gifts. That’s the only way for Mariam to get information from outside. But time is so powerful that it can changes everything.
Endless waiting finally makes Mariam more “greedy”. Thursday’s meeting cannot satisfy her anymore. She wants to live with his father in his big house in Herat. And his father nods his head, in a hesitant way. So Mariam’s life is ruined on her 15-year-old birthday. Her desperate mother kills herself. Her dearest father Jalil becomes a stranger. She marries a troubled and bitter man named Rasheed who is 30 years her senior and lives under the shadow of family violence in turbulent age. Good! Childish people always try to make beautiful beliefs for themselves, even though they are only some big and small lies.
Mariam firmly believes that her life won’t be that cold as her mother described. So after so many years, when she is refused by her father for so many times and becomes more and more helpless, when she is distressed by the guilt of her mother’s death, when she is suffering from poverty, war, stress of family violence, she finally has to reserve all those beliefs made by herself. Her tiny dreams are just like drops of dew under the sun. They would finally disappear, as if they have never existed. Good! Another girl Laila seems to be luckier.
Her father and her lover Tariq help her build a bright and fantastic future which seems to be achievable. However, war is such a wicked wizard. He performs some little tricks and changes everything. Because of his tricks Laila loses her two brothers and her mother’s smile. Finally that wizard performs his biggest trick. An attack comes and there is no one left but Laila in her warm and affectionate family. She is saved by conspiratorial Rusheed and married him. All her dream has turned to visionary hope. Only a baby with Tariq survives in the tragedy reminding her that she used to have lots of colorful memory and there remains her Tariq.
But even this tiny sweet hope cannot escape from life’s joke. A stranger tells Laila the death message of Tariq. All that hope is ruined. Good! Contrast makes poignancy. Laila has more beautiful memory. However, it’s also the memory that makes her more desperate when she is suddenly attacked by the devil of family violence. This attack is too quick to bear. Laila and thousands of women like her began their suffering lives. These women never stop struggling under the haze of the old family system. Their hopes and love rise and fall in the war-ridden country. War controls everything.
I used to be childish to believe that those scenes filled with blood and tear have been far away from us. Those words, such like regime change, religious persecution, carnage and bombs, are so distant to understand that we almost forget that they do exist. Yes, I will never be willing to believe that they do exist beyond the frontier in a country named Afghanistan in the time of 2003. Just imagine. Those messages of death suddenly closed about the whole city just like thick mists. Girls who used to stand by suddenly realize that it becomes impossible for them to settle in this familiar city which once was filled with laughter and happiness.
They try to run away but it never works. They have no other choice but prostrate themselves before the power of the old family system and cruel war which they can never revolt against. And the endurance is endless. Good! But the rainbow of peace is always calling. Endurance leads to change. Those tiny hopes, which will change the whole world, sleep and grow deep in the ground silently. So we see Mariam and Laila, the two women with the same hurts, finally conclude a mother-daughter-like friendship. They swallow their hurts with a cup of tea.
Family violence forces them devote themselves to the two kids. A failure to run away makes things more miserable. But it’s not that important anymore. Because they have someone, they finally have someone to rely on. Time proves everything. Tariq’s death is turned out to be a lie of Rasheed. His back lights up Laila’s hope though that girl with rosy cheek has become a woman with a scarred heart. At the end of the story, Mariam kills Rasheed and sacrifices herself to confess to the murder, which finally makes that hope shine as a sun.
What if we have to face a life filled with tears? In this unimaginable tragedy, Hosseini makes it possible for us to see that women’s love to family can give them the power to live through hard time and realize their own self-salvation. Hope always walks with a limp in endless sadness. But when someone is willing to sacrifice for someone else’s happiness, death becomes so tiny. So when Mariam stands on the execution ground and realizes her final and most beautiful dream that she is important to someone, love conquers all the haze.
One year later, when Laila decides to come back with her family to Kabul, a thousand splendid suns shine through those gaps of broken buildings and broken hearts. The story ends up in a mixed way. It’s more than a happy ending or a bad ending. It shows that tragedy is over in a tragic way but tiny hopes never die. And that’s what Hosseini wants to show us: a beautiful, heart-wrenching story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely bond and an indestructible love. Good! I have to admit that women do bear more sufferings since the patrilineal society is built even though I am not willing to.
Maybe the word “suffering” is not so accurate. And this inexactness stands out in Afghanistan. How could we define all that women , such as Mariam and Laila, have bored as simple “suffering” “misery”“tribulation” or “distress”? But under no circumstances should we neglect that it’s what women bear that makes them powerful. Those crying Afghan women in ashes and ruins still keep love and that’s why the story’s last sentence is like that. Even Mariam has been a symbol of tragedy, Laila still named her daughter as Mariam. That’s the most powerful scene in the whole story. Some people define this book as a model ovel of female literature. As I see it, A Thousand Splendid Suns has been beyond a simple novel of female literature. It stands for the universal topic: life, hope and love. Good! Finally I have to admit that Khaled Hosseini, this fantastic writer, is so brilliant to make this book unforgettable. As an American writer whose hometown is Afghanistan, he tells us a true Afghanistan in a brief and sharp style. Maybe there is something similar between dissection of a human body and analysis of lives. Doctor and writer Hosseini fills this story with compassion and sympathy,making it a drop of tear being held back in our eyes.
I believe that I will never forget the cover of this book. An Afghan woman stands on a small hill. Big and small buildings lie at the foot of it. Clouds floating in the grey sky, the woman seems to be surveying the remote horizon,waiting for a rising sun. Neither she nor we know whether she can see it or not. But we know, we all know, there must be one. There must be a rising splendid sun. There must be a thousand splendid suns. They are avatars of those Afghan women. They will finally be able to heal this country’s hurts. We all know that they will.