Khaled Hosseni has always had the knack of making any story heart-wrenching. I love his style of story telling; he gets you so involved in the story that you feel the pain when the protagonist goes through the pain. My first exposure to this fact was when I read the story 'The Kite Runner'. My heart still saddens when I think of the story. Each and every incident deepens the wound in your heart and makes it more difficult to bear; but there are also instances when you are overjoyed. Another important aspect of Kaled Hosseni's stories is their closeness to reality. His stories are full of life; they draw the readers closer and closer to reality until they actually acknowledge that they indeed are the hard realities of life. Most of the authors tend to avoid stories that have more than a pinch of reality in them for fear that it would not be appealing to the audience (the very reason why Chetan Bhagat's books, with the exception of one or two, are so full of masala), but Hosseni belongs to the select few who can get their readers emotionally attached to their stories.
This reminds me of the stories of Fyodor Dostovesky and Khushwant Singh. I loved the novel 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostovesky. It describes the state of mind of a person who is going through one of the most difficult stages of his life. And it is done with so much of originality that the reader becomes really hooked to the story; he feels the pang when the protagonist's thoughts and feelings are described and the suspense takes the better of him for most part of the story. My experience is that I became so much involved with the protagonist's feelings and ideas that these become my sole perspective; even when there are other persons involved, with a more moral stronghold, but I wouldn't dare acknowledge that. And the beauty of the narration is such that as the story progresses, the situation becomes so tense that the reader would want to know the ending as soon as possible. Another of the stories that I liked of Fyodor Dostovesky is 'The Idiot'. Even though I thought that the story was a little dragging towards the end, made me lose interest, the good aspect is the reality in the story. Dostovesky's stories generally make the reader so involved in them that the reader starts to feel that he is already a part of the world where the entire story happens. Similar is the case with the story 'Train to Pakistan'. The story depicts is unbelievably real and touching, and the reader gets entangled in the mesh of reality.
Khaled Hosseni's 'Thousand Splendid Suns' is a very touching story, the kind, that would definitely make you stop and think. It depicts the life story of a girl in Afghanistan, who comes to the world as a harami or a deplorable creature and leaves it as a martyr. This is the real story of Afghan women. It is very easy to spot the similarity of the story to the real Afghan life, the devastation and the suffering the Afghans go through with each passing day. Especially, the pathetic state of women in the country and the difficulties they are made to go through by the society. It is amazing, the kind of bond that the author shares with Afghanistan. Even in 'The Kite Runner', the story was in a perfect Afghan setting. His stories touch upon every possible aspect of the Afghan life, like its history, politics, socioeconomic setup etc. One would get a very vivid picture of the Afghan life through his stories. 'Thousand Splendid Suns' starts with the life of a small girl in Afghanistan, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy merchant. Mariam is too small to understand the ruthlessness of the world. As her love and respect for her father grows and her heart fills with hopes of fatherly love and care, she embarks on a journey to her father's place, alone. Her eloping hurts her mother so much that she commits suicide. So the story actually starts when Mariam, at the young age of 13, she loses her mother, gets to her father's place, only to find out that her father could not let her stay at his place for long. Her world starts falling apart when she also gets to know that she is soon going to be married off to a man much older than her.
But life moves on. Her husband happens to be a very respectable and mature man, and the initial days go pretty well. Until one day when both of them sadly realize that Mariam cannot bear a child, which irks her husband. He starts hating her and treating her horribly. The isolation and physical torture that Mariam goes through at the hands of her husband is depicted in the most heart wrenching way. And the story doesn't end there; fate has more in store for Mariam. Her husband gets married again to a teenager and this worsens Mariam's condition. The story of the young girl, who, after losing her brothers and both her parents in the Afghan war, against her own wishes ends up marrying Mariam's husband is also described very beautifully in the story. Reality stares you in the eye and you find it difficult to look at it for long. The story takes you to several junctures and at times, you feel like killing Mariam's husband with your own hands, for it is a testimony of the kind of torture that women suffer in a male dominated world like Afghanistan. But I know, I cannot generalize this, as in the same story, the author also speaks about another well mannered and caring Afghan man. But that doesn't stop me from saying that the majority of the women suffer in one way or the other at the hands of men.
Mariam's husband, fathers two children, and when he gets to know that the first child is not actually his, he starts getting violent bouts, which gradually increased in frequency and intensity. The physical and mental trauma the women suffer during this period is clearly depicted in the subsequent part of the story. The story then takes you through a very exciting journey with many twists and turns, but finally the inevitable happens. Just like the quote from Bhagavat Gita goes, where lord Krishna says, 'Whenever and wherever there is a discrepancy in the discharge of dharma, then I will incarnate to carry out dharma', finally, justice or dharma is discharged. Do I have to say anything more? All izz Well, and probably, all would be, as it marked not just the end of a touching story, but the beginning of a truly amazing story as well.