Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”
― Khaled Hosseini,
The story of Mariam and Laila
Two women- Mariam and Laila are distinctly apart, yet when their paths cross, their lives become similar. Mariam faces the stigma of being an illegitimate child, from her early years of life. She is married to Rasheed who is far older than her, much against her wishes. Mariam’s inability to have children turns Rasheed bitter, and she soon finds herself facing physical and mental abuse in her marriage. With the war raging outside, Mariam’s life behind the veil gets tougher, until Laila enters her life.
For Mariam, Laila was initially the woman who stole her husband away. But soon she realizes that the young girl is in a similar situation- living life on the whims and fancies of the man who owns them. Her hatred turns into a motherly love of sorts, towards Laila and her little child. It is through Laila that Mariam begins to give and receive love, an emotion that she had been starved of, all through her life.
Laila, born a generation apart, comes with a different set of ideologies about life, love and family
She is intelligent, and bold. She provokes Mariam to risk their lives and escape from the clutches of Rasheed, something which Mariam had seldom tried to undertake in all those years. Her constant efforts to make it to the orphanage to visit her daughter Aziza is commendable indeed, despite the possibility of beatings by the Taliban, who seldom permit women from venturing out on their own. When Laila is forced to undertake a caesarian for the birth of her second child, without any anesthesia, she exhibits her strength and will to survive.
The two lead lives in the toughest times in Afghanistan. With women’s rights being practically absent, survival becomes a struggle. It is an act of fearless anger, when Mariam is driven to kill Rasheed. Venting out all the pent up feelings, she is ready to face any consequence that may follow soon after. In her selfless act, she clears the way for Laila to escape, and lead a life of peace, far way in Pakistan with the only man has ever loved- Tariq. It is this sense of debt to Mariam, and to her country Afghanistan, that Laila is determined to return back from exile in Pakistan.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a deeply moving story of family, of love, of the status of women, and of salvation. A book that I have read more than once and can still pick it anytime.
This post is a part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge where I write about twenty six women characters from books, who have left an impact on me. You can read the previous posts here- Women in Books