Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Pick up any newspaper anywhere flick though it and it won't be long until you read some report about one of the many atrocities going on around the world. Articles on the political situation, others on the humanitarian crisis, comments in the opinion section. For the most of us, this may well be the only way such dramatic world events will affect our lives: through media sources. The only affect we may feel is an increase in petrol prices. Nothing compared to what those stuck in the middle of a dictatorship or a war may have to suffer. Neither can we ever begin to understand this situation unless we ourselves were to be in such a tragic situation. Our imaginations would not be able to even conceive it. Even though the media often tries to convey the sufferings of innocent civilians, we still find it hard to relate to any of it; it is so far away, in some distant culture affecting distant people. We need to feel a connection. This is the magical quality of A Thousand Splendid Sons. The author, Khaled Hosseni has managed to bring his characters to life, and has effectively written a biography of the lives of the Marian, Leila, Rasheed. They existed, they still exist throughout Afghanistan. The experiences, emotions, trials and tribulations as well as the joys and friendships which intertwine themselves around the lives of each and every Afghan comes alive through the author's writings.
The characters in the story are not only lie in the pages of the story. They live throughout Afghanistan. They are the Afghan people. Rasheed lives in many Afghan homes, with his almost dictator-like demeanour. He is fed the political ideals which shaped the country, leading him to become just like so many Afghans who have been brainwashed by politics, which as a result has been a significant factor in the religious violence we have seen in not only Afghanistan but many other places. Rasheed represents not only the tyrannical husband, but is also a symbol of the authoritarian powers which have reigned over whole countries, and suppressed nations, just as he does his family. The relentless fortitude of Marian after her many years of suffering under Rasheed is a vivid example of the lives of so many women in Afghanistan. Locked into her forced marriage to a total stranger, to whom she must then dedicate her life with the knowledge that she has no other option while living in a country undergoing such political turmoil. Her childhood hopes drown, and her skin thickens when she is suddenly thrown into her new life, and her only escape is to hide behind her burqa. However, it is this suffering which brings about her strength to commit her final act. She condemns herself to continue her life filled with suffering so that other lives can be free. And as a result she herself becomes free. Leila is the glimmer of new hope which comes with the birth of a new generation. She struggles against what the authoritarian regimes have created, even though on many occasions her efforts are overthrown by the tyrannical forces which suppress anybody who contends them. But still she fights. Her continual efforts remind us never to give up, even when hope is not even a glisten on the horizon. She is a reminder of what lies underneath all dictatorships; real people with real emotions and desires. Tyrannies may destroy people, but they cannot kill what lives inside of all of us. And it is this strength which lies somewhere inside of us which pushes us through in the face of adversity.
The writer portrays the real true consequences of authoritarian regimes, through following the life of what no doubt could be real people, in real situations, facing a real daily struggle. He manages to brings these traumas from distant lands right to you in your home through his powerful words through his fiction. But the truth is, his words ring true.