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Reflection on “A Thousand Splendid Suns” Essay

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs. And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

Closing the book, I just feel real and hopeful.

I will not say this story is a tragedy, and I hate when people generalise it as a book where everyone died except for Laila, Tariq and their children. Indeed, a depressing and melancholy mood is seemed to be perpetuated throughout the book, which has a large time frame spanning over decades (making it also a thought-provoking historical fiction); we agonise over the misfortune of the many characters, over their fickle lives under the most evil torture of the human rights. It’s not the kind of affliction or anguish that is easy to resonate with, as lives as well as the social norms in Afghanistan are unfamiliar to most of us. But somehow, no matter how this book is portrayed as a fiction, from deep inside my heart, I know this must be the reality, the bare truth of a brutal period of modern history. The first reason, I assume, is that Hosseini is a master of story-telling. When I marvelled at Mariam’s courage to stand up against Rasheed, moved by Laila and Tariq’s unfading hope for a brighter future, I wonder, aren’t they just people who cannot be more ordinary? Every time when a person died in the story, especially those who are not the crucial roles and their deaths were merely mentioned in one line, it occurred to me that there must be thousands of Lailas, Tariqs and Mariams in Afghanistan. Each one of them had been the hero in his/her own story. That’s why at the end of the story, I felt so real and so empowered – I might be the hero of my own story.

The second reason, is that every character is created so real that you cannot simply love or hate anyone. I was really surprised that I didn’t cry for many of the sad scenes until I read about Jalil’s Disney tape and his letter. Jalil, the one who deeply broke or, more precisely, devastate Mariam’s heart, who once been a cold businessman and gave away his daughter without a dither turned out to be a father who really cared for Mariam for all those years, who still regretted the Disney movie he didn’t take her to watch. He realised that at the end of his life, the thing that should be cherished most is the opportunity of being a father, the thing that should be embraced most tightly is his daughter. This person, is just so real. Even Rasheed, who is the major cause of the two women’s misfortune, has showed his fatherly love when Zalmai was born. Everyone in this story is a three-dimensional person; none of them is perfect, but each one of them can be a splendid sun shining in the sky of Afghanistan.

“Real” is definitely not the only feeling I have after reading it, the most overwhelming one must be “hopeful”. Hosseini has never intended to depress anyone since the very first beginning when he wrote down the title of book – “A thousand splendid suns”. Though the walls may seemed to be ashen and rough, I can still see the thousand splendid suns hide behind the walls. This is exactly the motto, the spirit that inspired everyone in this book to keep on struggling. For Mariam, she was able to have “a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.” because she “has loved and been loved back”. For Laila and Tariq, their splendid suns are their children, children in Afghanistan and each other. For Laila’s Babi, his splendid suns are Laila and her Mammy. For Jalil, at the end of his life, he still possessed hope to take Mariam in his arms “as he should have all those years ago”. Even for Rasheed, he once lost a splendid sun in his life, that’s why he would never let it go once Zalmai was born, who turned out to be his new splendid sun. Yes, most of them died. But they were lucky; they died with hope.

In the end, I feel so real and hopeful that I almost see a thousand splendid suns shining in the sky now.


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