Sunday, November 29, 2015

I survived, but a dream died....#OrangeDay

It is said that books take you to places you cannot go. These places are not just the ones that are physically remote. These are places hidden deep within our consciousness - places where lurk darker thoughts, sinister emotions, hidden pains, feelings of anguish, secret desires, ambitions crushed, goals to be achieved, undisclosed loves, words unsaid but often thought of consciously as well as unconsciously. Authors, sometimes omniscient like God, tell everything about the characters, and at other times, they leave it to the reader to draw conclusions. Narratives, by way of perspective, become powerful means of interrogation and understanding. Who we are, what we think, whom do we identify with, where are we in the timeline of history, what limitations do we possess which we are unaware of, and many more questions like these are answered through the books we read.

I came across some really good books recently which I would recommend everyone to read. They are inspirational, and tell us how one can achieve a goal despite financial or other hindrances. These books tell us how small we are, enveloped in petty thoughts and confining mind-sets. They tell us that greatness is achieved by serving humanity. They tell us that nothing is greater than serving others. 


Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen
Things a Little Bird told Me by Biz Stone (Twitter co-founder)


The first two books tell us how a common person, without a lot of money, but with a deep desire can surmount all hurdles to keep a promise. Both the books also deal with the issue of education, and its relevance, its undeniable importance for all. They also give a peek in other cultures, especially, Greg Mortensen's book. The tile of Greg's book itself is window to the culture of the people living in Baltistan. A thing as simple as a cup of tea is all it takes to bridge the gap of hearts, or as they say, to break ice. Biz Stone's book is the confessions of a self-made successful businessman. Biz talks about creativity, about dreams, about ego, about risk-taking, about failure, about success, about the desire and steadiness of trying, and not quitting. 


I now want to dwell a little on a book that has kept me awake recently. A book that has made me cry, that has made me wince in pain as the characters in the book became part of me or, should I say, I became one with them.


This book is Khaled Hossieni's A Thousand Splendid Suns



Image Source here


This book is a splendid historical chronicle of Afghanistan from the Soviet occupation through to the time the Taliban take over. History affects all. It is told keeping in mind the closeted life of Mariam and Laila, the two protagonists of the novel. But it is so much more than that. It is the story of Mariam who dotes on a father who fails her. It is the story of Laila who has never seen her brothers as they have been out in the war-zone, and yet, strangely, her life is overshadowed by their absence. It is the story of Mamy who pines for her sons and stubbornly refuses to leave the war-torn country as she wants to see her sons' dream come true - the expulsion of communists from their territory. It is the story of a woman whose womb is barren and who endures the wrath of her husband who just wants a son. This woman is Mariam and her husband is Rasheed. It is the story of the one-legged Tariq who cherishes the friendship with Laila, and will, despite his handicap, fight for her honor without hesitation. It is the story of the two friends who part, love that is forsaken, friendship that is formed in the most unexpected corner of life. It is also the story of a little child Aziza who is scared at the sound of bomb-shelling and seeks assurance from her mother by simply hugging her. And the mother in return keeps her safe from all save the brutal father. 


Hosseini has crafted a flawless narrative that brutally shakes you to the core. The violence out there in the streets is told only as a matter of fact. It is what the protagonists cannot witness. Their life indoors, is more violent and affects them in a way the larger historical events do not. It is the abuse they face in their own home, at the hands of their own family, that forms the master narrative. History stands right outside the door. 


I wish to quote a few lines that have amazed me and left me speechless. 


"A man's heart is a wretched, wretched thing Mariam. It isn't like a mother's womb. It won't bleed, it won't stretch to make room for you."


"....each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into the clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below."


"Careful where you step," Babi said. His voice made a loud echo. "The ground is treacherous."


"....there was a scrambling, a bare-handed frenzy of digging, of pulling from the debris, what remained of a sister, a brother, a grandchild."


"But when it came to fathers, Mariam had no assurances to give."


"Aziza shrieked at the thumping of mortars. To distract her, Mariam arranged grains of rice on the floor, in the shape of a house or a rooster or a star, and let Aziza scatter them..."


"And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion."



Hosseini writes in the Postscript to the novel that he wanted to explore "the inner lives of these two fictional women and look for the very ordinary humanity beneath their veils." And he has done that brilliantly. It is this very denial of 'ordinary humanity' from the male fraternity, from the power-holders (be they in the house or outside), that provokes a response of restlessness as we read the book. 


The UN this year has launched Orange the World campaign to increase awareness against the violence women meet in their day-to-day lives.


A few lines by me here... 





Born unwanted, raised
raised sitting at the periphery....
Married, sometimes sold off....
I survived but a dream died....

Sometimes looted, sometimes uprooted

prodded, traded,
squashed, crushed
trampled upon
I survived but a dream died....

Sometimes fertile, sometimes barren

Scoffed, rebuked
Used, misused, abused
I survived but a dream died......

Branded, disgraced,

veiled, exposed,
strangulated by masculine stares
choked up, touched, maligned,
innocent yet tarnished....
I survived but a dream died.....




Image Source here


Written for Indiblogger IndiSpire Edition 93.
Also liinking to Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Survival

37 comments:

  1. A nice post linking Hosseini and your poem on the survival of the woman whose dream was ill-fated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A touching post...makes me feel so much brutality is happening in that part of the world. But we know such things happen everywhere, just that we don't come to know of them sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is present not just 'there', you are right Alok....it is so prevalent and yet few are able to make amends.....

      Delete
  3. It is always a delight to read what you have to say...and you nailed it this time with the poem "I survived but a dream died"....sad but true & beautifully portrayed...and my reading list just got a few more additions...well done sunaina...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do read these books Amit...They are really really good...

      Delete
  4. I survived but a dream died...बहुत सही है। सुन्दर प्रस्तुति, सुनैना जी।

    ReplyDelete
  5. I survived but a dream died...बहुत सही है। सुन्दर प्रस्तुति, सुनैना जी।

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely write-up on Khaled Hossieni's book Sunaina. A peep into the history, lives and culture in those areas make us realize how different and tough the world can be. Your poem is simply heart touching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True Somali...I was hoping to see your post for this prompt....!

      Delete
  7. Thanks for recommending such inspirational and heart-melting books. What do I say about your poem!! It's poignant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ravish....Welcome back....I had noted your absence and was really missing your thoughtful comments....Hope you are doing good.

      Delete
  8. You rightly titled your Blog, Sunaina.. 'When I stop to smell a Rose!' Too touchy story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh do you really think so Sreedhar Sir.....? ....:)

      Delete
  9. Haven't read all four books that you have mentioned. But I do like Khalid Hosseini style. I've read The Kite Runner. He captures moments that we miss to realise when it's happening.

    Your poem is equally moving, like those quotes you have shared. I love crisp, layered and free use of expression and your poem is all that. Thanks for a lovely read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do read the books. I am sure you will enjoy them. I am happy you liked the poem.

      Delete
  10. I second you
    Thousand Splendid suns is just brutally true and sincere writing
    So you are also into book reviews?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True Rakhi.....I am not much into reviews but have been thinking of doing them now....I do read books, so what is the harm in writing a bit about them too, right...!

      Delete
  11. I did not go through 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'. I read 'The Kite Runner' when I was around 11,may be and that book lied a lot.So,I never tried reading Khaled Hosseini's works ever again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The book lied....really...? In what way? Isn't history a bunch of lies too....some truths are brushed aside, or hidden under covers, and some lies are repeated so much that they become 'truths'....I haven not read The Kite Runner but with the statement you have made, I would definitely want to read it.....

      Delete
  12. I have read Thousand Splendid Suns...and Kite Runner...It is so painful and makes me cry..
    I will get my hands on other books..

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.in

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True....it makes you cry...it leaves you feeling devastated.....but after all the tears dry up, you find yourself asking questions.

      Delete
  13. I haven't read this but i have read the kite runner... a sad one.
    Though I like his writing style and language I don't want to end up feeling sad each time reading him.
    Your poem is lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing affects different people differently Indrani. Thanks for reading through...:)

      Delete
  14. Very beautiful and heartwarming post. Haven't read his books but now I think I should. And your lines are woven wonderfully. Thanks for suggesting such a lovely read. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sunaina you have told about Hosseini's book in such beautiful tones . I have read it and it was an experience , to say the least.
    I loved all the quotes and my favorite is this one -
    "And the past held only this wisdom: that love was a damaging mistake, and its accomplice, hope, a treacherous illusion."
    Your own poem is truly poignant ! I felt a lump in my throat by the end of it ...and you evoked that with such simplicity !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt the lump as I read the book, I feel it still when I think about it. I wonder how those who commit atrocities are not shaken by their own misdeeds.

      Delete
  16. I haven't read Hosseini's book. There is so much destruction and brutality going on in the world that reading more destruction does not appeal. But you've written a superb review.

    ReplyDelete