Monday, May 05, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Do you have any idea what it would have been like to grow up in Afghanistan?

A Thousand Splendid Suns is written by someone who knows. The Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini has kept me riveted for the past few weeks, and especially last night as I raced toward the last page of this book!
This fictional story of life in Kabul reaches out and grabs you. I felt like I could understand life in the Middle East better after reading this book. Hosseini does a great job at making you experience life in another country.
The story spans the 1970s through 2001. You will feel the excitement of the people as the Soviets are driven out of their country. You will cringe as a splintered leadership develops into warlords and tears apart the once beautiful city. You will hear the bombs exploding as the Taliban, who are viewed as saviors, rescue the city and promptly lay down their law. And you will experience what it meant to be an Afghan woman during this time period.

There are many jaw-dropping parts of the book, but I would like to share one with you. After the Taliban invades, they started laying down their Islamic law (page 248 of the book.) (Please keep in mind, I don't know if these laws were all real or not. After all, this is a work of fiction. But the author makes it seem so true.)

  • All citizens must pray five times a day. If it is prayer time and you are caught doing something else, you will be beaten.
  • All men will grow beards at least one fist length under the chin. If not, you will be beaten.
  • Singing is forbidden.
  • Dancing is forbidden.
  • Playing cards, playing chess, gambling and kite flying are forbidden.
  • Writing books, watching films, and painting pictures are forbidden.
  • If you keep parakeets, you will be beaten.
  • If you steal, your hand will be cut off at the wrist. If you steal again, your foot will be cut off.
  • If you are not Muslim, do not worship where you can be seen by Muslims. If you do, you will be beaten and imprisoned. If you are caught trying to convert a Muslim to your faith, you will be executed.
  • Women: You will stay inside your homes at all times. If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a male relative.
  • You will not, under any circumstances, show your face. You will wear a burqa at all times. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.
  • Cosmetics are forbidden.
  • Jewelry is forbidden.
  • You will not speak unless spoken to.
  • You will not laugh in public. If you do, you will be beaten.
  • You will not paint your nails. If you do, you will lose a finger.
  • Girls are forbidden from attending school.
  • Women are forbidden from working.

Wow. Maybe I should quit taking my freedoms for granted.


One Observationist said...

I am reading an interesting book about the CIA involvement with the Soviet/Afghan war of the 80s and it is really interesting. Especially in light of what happened after the Soviets were defeated. The extremists took over.

I too am happy we have the freedoms that we do. Sounds like it would be an interesting read.


Theresa said...

Definitely, we are blessed. I have a student who is Afghani, whose family moved to Russia so their girls could get a good education, then here to the states. She is so bright, opinionated and a delightful student. I'm so glad she's not living in a society that would subjugate her so!