Sunday, April 19, 2009

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS - on women, about women

It has been a while since I last reviewed a book.

Not that I stop reading altogether but during my last pregnancy,my passion for books seemed to tide off.

However, I still do my reading....
I will ensure that I read at least most of the articles in Milenia Muslim and Forward, the two magazines that I subscribed every month.

Surprisingly, after I gave birth to Wafa, I managed to finish off 2 books so far...not bad I think, for a full time working mom with 5 daughters to take care and fully breastfeeding still :D

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is the second book by Khaled Hosseini,an Afghan-born doctor, who migrated to US in 1980 when Russia invaded Afghanistan.

While The Kite Runner, his first book, told a story about 2 boys from different ranking in the society with a background of civil wars, invasion from the invaders and poverty,among others, his second book took us to understand about the life of women in the Afghan society.






The background of one war after another, invasion and Taliban ruling, however, in my opinion, was more prominent in this book compared to his first.


Maryam and Laila, both from a different family background and from different part of Afghanistan somehow ended up to live under the same roof and shared the same man for a husband.



With a wide generation gap for both of them, they did face many obstacles to make do with whatever they have and their pleasant relationship actually was not preceded with a sweet start.

Their hardship particularly to satisfy the need of the man in their life, taking care of the children and to maintain whatever standard the society had set for women , at last had budded their deep love for each other.

The strong emotional bonding between them made their life meaningful despite all the hardships, sometimes beyond word description.

They sacrificed their need for each other's happiness.
They depended on each other for personal strenght and inspiration.They have their own definition of happiness.

They were the strong women, the icon of all oppressed women throughout the world.



I was very disturbed to read how domestic violence was still very rampant in many Muslim- majority countries.



The discrimination against women is very loud in this story.

It did give a very bad impression on Islam.

No wonder how Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist willing to put her self to danger just to expose the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban ruling.
Alhamdulillah, her journery has brought her to Islam.



Eventhough I am fully aware that the reasons behind it are purely cultural, but to some extent, some ignorant people will indirectly relate Islam to that kind of actions.


It also made me realized that MANY people men and women alike, are still very ignorant on the attitude of our beloved Prophet towards others especially, how husbands , fathers, brothers should treat their wives, daughters and sisters.


Part of the story also revealed the sufferings of the weakest people towards the war that seemed non-stop as time immemorial.
And of course women and children were the ones who badly affected.


The sufferings were well written, in my humble opinion.Not only once that I loathed the ego of their Mujahidin leaders or Taliban important people who somehow succeded to make many women suffered.

But along the way, I have to remind myself that I cannot pass judgement just based on one storybook.



Those story of pains and sufferings of Afghans due to many wars they were facing,sometimes (well, most of the times) left me wondering how the people of Palestine survived their day-today uncertainties and fear,


The other thing that puzzled me (to some extent) was how the 'zina' was quite easily going and was written without many 'religious input' to it (if you know what I mean).Well, anyway it was not a religous story book to start with.

In fact, Maryam is a 'harami' and Laila also had her first child out of her 'off-marriage' relationship with her boyfriend.


How I wish that these cases (if we can call them that) occurred only in isolation.

The 'non-logical' rules generated by the Talibans was told quite generously.

However, I cannot judge the Taliban ruling based on this one story.


I think it is a high time for me to get myself a book by Yvonne Ridley with as second opinion or likewise.



This book also surprised me as I encountered two words that have similar meanings with Malay words.

First, was almari mentioned in a conversation between Laila and Maryam, when Maryam asked Laila to put the clothings inside the almari, so I guess almari in the Afghan languange (not sure it's Pashtun or something else) bears similar meaning in almari in Malay languange

Second, was pahlawan, when their husband proudly called his son with Laila as pahlawan.Again, i guess the meaning cannot be very far from the Malay pahlawan.


At first, I thought this book could not beat his debut book, but as the story grows, the feelings and emotions started to emerge and the plots and storyline actually are stronger than the Kite Runner.


Having said that, however, every time I encountered Khaled Hosseini's name, I always relate him with his first novel as that novel did give impact on myself.





Yeah, I guess the first encounter gave the most memorable impression in my memory.


Overall, I have mixed feeling after completed reading this book.How I wish women were treated the way they deserve, and how men should realized the heavy burden they were facing in their relationship with women in their life.


Above all, how I wish, Islam could be potrayed the way it should be.

Lastly, I am not a professional critic and reviewer, but, if you are a novel-lover try to get this book and judge it for yourself.


Allahu'alam

Ummuzulfa
23 April 2009


1 comment:

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