A Thousand Splendid Suns…


I read Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner ten years ago, as a girl. I enjoyed the depth of his writing, but felt that it lacked style. The story was gripping and the writing was brutally honest, but there was a little something that I felt was lacking. It is difficult to explain without coming across as presumptuous. Today, a decade hence, the Afghan born doctor cum writer crawls back into my (grown up) heart all over again, with A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The book touches upon Afghanistan, fresh from its upheaval of monarchy and takes us through its journey of war, Soviet occupation and finally, the dark regime of the Taliban. When Mariam’s mother gives her lesson for life at the beginning of the story, little do we realize how much impact those few words have over not only Mariam’s life, but also Laila’s (the other protagonist) :

“Only one skill. And it’s this : tahamul. Endure.”

Mariam’s life is made up of one difficult situation after another, one pain after another. The reader’s heart feels her pain but just like her, is helpless. You almost endure it all over again. And again. Suddenly I think of these lines from The Kite Runner : When tumblr_mcdbhoF9671riifgzo1_500

You know that what Mariam really wants is to escape it all, like in those lines above, but she is trapped into her life, that husband, that country and her mother’s curse : to endure. When you think of women like her, who are still battling reality in patriarchal societies all over the world, your heart is sure to bleed and suddenly, your own life feels like an enormous luxury.

The descriptions of Herat and Kaboul evoke very strong feelings about the places and country. The Boudhas of Bamiyan, the minarets of Herat and the night life in Kaboul stay etched in your mind long after you have closed the book. It is the city of Kaboul that is behind the title, too.


Beautiful, isn’t it? As a person who gives away her soul to certain places and cities, I could totally identify with it.

If Mariam’s curse was to endure, Laila’s was to wait. Waiting for love, waiting for clouds to pass, waiting for times to change.

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”

While Laila’s story can retain some hope, Mariam’s is devoid of any. Probably the story of many women in Afghanistan and in many other societies as well. Khaled Hosseini’s might touch upon aspects of politics or history but the central story is always that of these two women, stuck together by kismet, born into a world and a time that was cruel to its women. The book is poetic and poignant, very hard to put down once begun. It is an extremely heart-wrenching tale of life, that goes on, despite all odds.

“Each snowflake was a sigh heard by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. All the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women suffer, how quietly we endure all that falls upon us.” 


Sookshma, the subtle one

An adaptation of A.K.Ramanujan’s translation of a Kannada folk tale, Sookshma was truly an experience of myriad pleasures. Performed at the ADA Rangamandira in Bangalore last evening, the show had, like I often like to say, ‘soul’ .


I have never seen Odissi before, not counting the one afternoon we had spent at Nrityagram. It seemed like a dance form of fluidity and grace and last evening’s performance was no different. The movements were languid and graceful and the pace was pleasurably slow. With our lifestyles of fast this and fast that, it was refreshing to just sit back and allow your emotions to rain over you, to feel sadness or joy to the whole.

While the dancers were truly a class apart, what gave the show character was the music. It fit into every scene beautifully, so much so that even an awkward non-dancer like me wanted to get up and keep pace. Like one of the guests who spoke after the show said, ” you could see every scene, thanks to the music.” I wish I could get a copy of the music somewhere. Strains of those melodies still ring in my ears and I am left groping in the dark, trying to clutch on to what little I have/remember.

Though the ballet talks about woman as Nature, I find the comparison a tad too trite. Nature for who she is, as the subtle one who is being destroyed by us with every passing day, is the protagonist here. Not any woman, but Nature in particular. The title makes sense when you look at how Nature has always been a quiet force but when not cared for, becomes conspicuous with her absence.

I want…


Some days, I want and I want;

A little of this and a little of that, 

Never too sure, but never too much. 


The names slip away

the words are garbled

but I want and I want.


A bucket of sunshine

or a mug of the waves,

or some dew to rub into my hair. 


I want and I want

all the love I can find and 

a few romances to spice up my day. 


I know my dishes are undone

My baby’s crying and I am thirty-two;

But I want and I want.


And I want and I want…..