A few days ago, I read a very good book, "A Thousand Splendid Suns." It is a New York Times bestseller novel and without a second thought must be placed on the bookshelf. After the success of Khaled Hosseini’s "A Kite Runner," it’s another marvel from his pen. He has brilliantly depicted the plight of Afghanistan’s women through their daily struggle with the regressive and torturing reality of Afghanistan. It’s a heart-wrenching tale of two women and their astounding heroism against the odds of life.

He has diligently narrated the gradual changes in Afghan history from the Soviet rule to Taliban, which had affected the lives of its people, especially its women.

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a must to keep on your bookshelf.

Two women on the same path

There are two women, generations apart, but time has brought them together in the same home with the same man. A beautiful portrayal of their growing friendship, faith, and love for each other that, with the passage of time, converted into a mother-daughter relationship.

Mariam, a five years old girl resides in Kolba with her mother, Nana. Her father, Jalil, comes to visit her at Kolba every Thursday. That happens to be a precious moment for her when she gets rid of her monotonous weekly tasks. The time spent with her father occupies her all through the week in dull and boring life at Kolba. Her father has a larger than life impression on her until she runs away to visit him at Heart, against Nana’s wish.

Another person in her life is a 90 years old man, Mullah Faizullah. He has remained a guiding figure whom she seeks in all her sufferings and endurance of abusive, violent, and disgraceful marriage. His teachings from Koran that God never forbids its people have been gradually losing its meaning for her.

She has lifetime guilt that her mother died because of her cynicism about her. Choosing her father over her mother is one decision she would regret all her life.

She redeemed from her guilt on the fateful day of her execution when she sacrificed her life for her daughter, Laila. A splendid sun rises for her and rekindles hope in her for a better life for Laila.

Laila, another girl the next door, is pretty, lively, cheerful, confident, and positive about the world. Her blue eyes and golden curls have become a fantasy for Rasheed, Mariam’s violent, ill-cultured, and regressive husband.

Unlike Mariam, Laila is a bold and confident girl. Her upbringings, family environment, city lives, and education have played a great role in her character building.

Mariam has remained ill-fated regarding relations and family. Before coming to Laila, she had no one, except Mullah Faizullah, to trust and heart out her feelings. Her father had abandoned her already, and after Nana hanging herself, she permanently erased Jalil from her heart and life.

Love moves people at all odds of life

Laila had got true love and care in her childhood from her father. Her father was liberal, tolerant, and a 20th-century progressive man. Besides this, she had Tariq, a fine gentle boy who truly loved, understood and accompanied her unconditionally till the end. A true friend, lover, and protector who finally became her husband. She has been on a higher platform than Mariam.

Mariam’s life was full of disappointments. As a girl and a grown-up woman, she only had small demands on life to live happily with a family. On the other side, Laila always fought for what she felt right. She had great faith in God and never cared about the results of her actions. She bluntly opposed Rasheed’s misdeeds and in return got black and blue on her overall body. Similarly, she had been a regular target of Taliban’s beating on the street when she would go and visit her daughter Aziza. These didn’t deter her from correcting the wrongs around her. I sometimes find strange how anyone could withstand the regular beating and still stand on one’s leg and do regular tasks at hand.

A deeply moving narrative and a gripping storyline have made this novel a marvelous piece of literary jewels. It’s a kind of an acknowledgment of the greatest courage, endurance, and tuning of Afghanistan women with turbulent lives. Some scenes are hard to resist the tears. My favorite was the last one when Laila went to see Kolba where Mariam used to live.

Laila imagines a 15 years old girl, sitting at the table making a doll by the glow of an oil lamp. The little girl looks up at her, eyes filled with small dreams, smiles and pronounce her name, “Laila jo.”

The famous Persian poet, Jami, was revered and loved by Afghan people before the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan. Jami’s poem and Koran (Kuru-an) verses are fit in somewhere in the book to enhance the conversation level between its characters.

He beautifully portrayed daily life in Afghanistan, people’s everyday struggle, preparation for a special occasion, surveillance under Taliban’s brutality, fear, starvation, and their adjustment in lack of basic resources in Taliban’s Afghanistan. Women were the worst sufferers in all these political turmoil. They had been living in lifetime imprisonment where they met customarily with unimaginable atrocities.

If you want to explore human emotions on various shades of life, it’s a must-read book. Love is the hope that moves people in the hardest of situations with courage and patience. There are a thousand splendid suns in the sky; Allah never abandons any of his children.