Wednesday, May 05, 2010

په زرګونو جلوه گرانۍ لمرونو
Translation: A Thousand Splendid Suns
(Written in Pashto)
The above photo was taken at sunset in Kabul, Afghanistan. The poem written below the title reflects Khaled Hosseini's feelings and his strong emotional attachment to his homeland where life had once been peaceful and happy. It is also a central theme in the novel, that despite all of the horrors that have occurred, in the end it is still home, and it will always remain as beautiful as it once was. The wars, and the destruction could not erase the feelings of love Hosseini had for his country. The title of the book "A Thousand Splendid Suns" appears throughout the novel and it from a poem written by Saib e Tabrizi in the early 1700's. "One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls", symbolizes the true essence and beauty of Kabul, home to both protagonists in this novel.

September 11th 2001, the Twin Towers of New York City were attacked by Taliban suicide bombers. The death toll of this surprise attack was 2,995 including the death of 19 hijackers. This however, did not include injuries or missing persons. The Taliban was also held responsible for most of the destruction in the late 70's in Kabul that was described throughout the novel. The Taliban imposed many ludicrous rules on men and women of Afghanistan, but mostly women. The female population was forced to be covered from head to toe in burqas, they were not to be outside without a male accompanying them, laughing in public was forbidden, all males were forced to grow beards, if they failed to obey they would be stoned to death. They would cut off the hands of thieves, cut off womens fingers if they wore nail polish. Museums were destroyed, the University of Kabul was destroyed, everyones lives were essentially under the control of the Taliban, one wrong move and it would cost you your life. The punishments were made public to frighten citizens, ultimately giving control to the Taliban.

Here is an excerpt from the novel demonstrating exact commands given by the Taliban, note that these are real laws that were imposed on Afghani citizens.

Our land is now known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. These are the laws that we will enforce and you will obey:

-All citizens must pray five times a day. If it is prayer time and you are caught doing something other, you will be beaten.

-All men will grow their beards. The correct length is at least one clenched fist beneath the chin. If you do not abide by this, you will be beaten.

-All boys will wear turbans. Boys in grade one through six will wear black turbans, higher grades will wear white. All boys will wear Islamic clothes. Shirt collars will be buttoned.

-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. Your birds will be killed.

-If you steal, your hands will be cut off at the wrist. If you steal again, your foot will be cut off.

-If you are not Muslim to your faith, you will be executed.

-If you are caught trying to convert a Muslim to your faith, you will be executed.

Attention women:

-You will stay inside your homes at all times. It is not proper for women to wander aimlessly about the streets.

-If you go outside, you must be accompanied by a mahram, a male relative. If you are caught alone on the street, you will be beaten and sent home.

-You will not, under any circumstance, show your face. You will cover with burqa when outside. If you do not, you will be severely beaten.

-Cosmetics are forbidden.

-Jewelry is forbidden.

-You will not wear charming clothes.

-You will not speak unless spoken to.

-You will not make eye contact with men.

-You will not laugh in public, if you do you will be beaten.

-Girls are forbidden from attending school. All schools for girls will be closed immediately.

-Women are forbidden from working.

-If you are found guilty of adultery, you will be stoned to death.

Listen. Listen well. Obey. Allah-u-akbar.

(Pages 247-249)

This is a photo of Khaled Hosseini, and his wife Roya. They have two children and are currently residing in Northern California, where Khaled continues to write, but his full commitment goes towards his family.