There is a point, particularly around late teenage, when you are curious to know about how the things are spectacularly different in other countries, other states and their bits and pieces you wish to connect with and admire.
Two years ago, I hot that stage, especially at the crack of dawn, my usual wake up time. While birds were ready to chirp and wake the world up around me, I was ready with my warm coffee, ready to explore Afghanistan as portrayed by my favourite, Khaled Hosseini in ‘And The Mountains Echoed’. I got this 400 pages-long paperback without knowing much, just that I wanted to and it was enough. I could feel another world entering me as Hosseini starts the work with this beautiful line…
So then, you want a story and I will tell you one.
That rush, that belongingness, that stepping onto the platform of another country where you are visiting for the first time. Yes. It was similar, if not the same.
In ‘And The Mountains Echoed’, nine chapters, each told by a character’s perspective, are strikingly spectacular. Hosseini has built stories of guilt in the characters of Parwana and Masooma the sisters, undeniable affection between the siblings Pari and Abdullah, even when it is often unfair to Pari. His narration is like a crystal chandelier, which are delicate and beautiful, and always on the verge of breaking apart or untangling itself. It is difficult to believe when the story is going on, however it is written in simple style with complex attributes. In this book, Pari is given up for adoption by her father, and it is only the love between the siblings that keeps the dots of her life connected.
For all its beauty, Hosseini is trying a little hard in ‘And The Mountain Echoed’ to keep the readers going when compared to his another two masterpieces. The characters and the plot would have been better presented as a linear track. Regardless, it is his words, and individual sentences that make the whole a beautiful read.
A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop on-board, you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later
which is now my favourite quote from the book. Luckily, it was my first book by Khaled Hosseini, so I was so I was only too eager to read his other works.
My second pick was ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’. Written in that similar style where words are raw and real, with wounds and wrinkles you can feel on the page. The Thousand Splendid Suns gifts readers with a tear of satisfaction.
You are Laila burning in the hot sun, cooled by the tree you are sitting under with the love of your life Tariq. The smell of cigarettes on the street, rockets hitting the house, wounds getting cleaned up and humans surviving when they wanted to die – the world is magical even at its worst. My favourite quote from the book is
Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
It crunches your heart a little, it breaks you down and you might go to sleep uneasy, but finishing this book would be a genuine pleasure. Hosseini has shown the brutality Rasheed inflicts on Mariam after he wants a son, but she could not reproduce. It is a story of strength and the incomparable bond between Mariam and Laila.
I reverse read Hosseini and The Kite Runner was my last pick. It’s a book that led me to question a lot of things – my identity, how my life should be, the idea of brotherhood, and my relationships.
The Kite Runner teaches you that life is grey, that everything is black and white at the same time. It was far removed from ATME, which is good. Often, if you read an author back to back, their voice and characters start to look similar.
Haunting truths that I took back from this book;“I’m so afraid. Because I’m so profoundly happy. Happiness like this is frightening…They only let you this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.” Hassan teaches you loyalty and Amir teaches you about the life he leads. The socio-cultural aspect is clearly defined by this Pashtun boy, Amir
I was fully satisfied as a reader by the end, but then the legends say, journey has to be more beautiful than the destination.
There are small incidents which are very compassionate in themselves and it gets you going.
But really, the one thing that stands out is Afghanistan, how the story of people is so closely connected with the story of a place. Cities, like people, feel joy and sorrow, happiness and destruction and with the city, the people change too. Hosseini’s emphasis on the relationships, whether between or the parent and the child, between life and death or between peace and war, or home land and foreign land and how these unfold is a delight.
And The Mountains Echoed: ?? ?– Make a purchase. Maybe an online purchase, or a kindle purchase. But buy it, encourage it; and you can buy it here.
A Thousand Splendid Suns: ?????– Buy a hardback and show it off in your bookshelf! And then wait for a signed anniversary edition and buy that too. You could but it here.
The Kite Runner: ???? – Go to a bookstore and buy it. Pay those extra bucks. Amazon sells it here. Alternatively, try and find a copy at a local bookstore. It is an international bestseller and they are sure to have it for reasonable rates. Once, the Happy bookstore on Hill Road, Bandra, had a Phillip Pullman trilogy for less than what it cost on Amazon. So, online is not always cheaper.