Once in a while, we come across a book that forever remains etched in our memory. A Thousand Splendid Suns, the finest work of one of the finest authors of our times is one such book. It shows that despite man’s attempt to explain it, there is no justification of war. Ever. This unforgettable novel captures the extent of suffering that war invokes on the lives of two women.
Mariam suffers the stigma of being an illegitimate child and the death of her mother results in her marriage to Rasheed- a man much older than her. The routine of a loveless marraige, a lonely existence and abuse is disturbed by the entry of Laila almost twenty years later.
Laila a young, privileged girl is deprived of her mother’s love who pines for her sons who’ve gone off to war. The only light of Laila’s existence is Tariq. As Laila and Tariq grow up, the camaraderie of their childhood blossoms into something deeper and tender yet beautifully strong. But the war, snatches from her, not just her brothers but also her parents and her beloved, Tariq. Lost and alone, she has no choice but to marry Rasheed.
The relations between Mariam and Laila are strained but eventually grow as strong as the bond between mother and daughter. So strong that they endure unimaginable hardships for each other.
The book shows the true spirit of women, how unbearably courageous they are and what lengths they will go to for their loves. It tells that love between a man and woman does not have to be idolised by death as propagated by ‘Laila and Majnoon’ but by life like ‘Laila and Tariq’. The best love story I have ever read, is not a love story at all. It takes us to the darkest abyss of grief and destroys us, breaks us. And then A Thousand Splendid Suns rise, in all their glory and shine upon us. Life is not so bad after all, if only we have the courage to love.