I have always loved reading. I love it so much that I would forego a meal to buy a book. Other girls like shoes, clothes, I just want books.
I grew up on a farm and for the first couple of years we didn’t have electricity, and our evenings were spent by candle or lamp light. With no power there was no television and when we complained to my mother that we were bored, she would just direct us to the bookshelf and say, “read”.
I recently joined a book club, and besides being allowed to consume copious amounts of vino, we do actually read. The set up is such that with the R50 contribution collected at every gathering the next person to host the book-club goes out and buys as many books as possible. This allows for the influx of new books and also serves as a challenge so that we are forced to read authors that we would not normally read.
One such author, to whom I am now a devout follower, is Khaled Hosseini.
This story follows two women in Afghanistan and how circumstances brought them together and laid the foundation for a friendship that eventually culminates in one of the woman laying down her live for the other. Reading this book was like riding an emotional rollercoaster. At times I was filled with rage at the absolute manipulative behaviour of some of the characters, the oppression of the women and the sheer violence that they had to endure only to be filled with such awe at the ability of the characters to endure and rise above the situation.
If there is one quote that completely sums up the message of this book, it is something that Mariam (the lead character) mom said to her: “Women like us. We endure. It’s all we have.”
This book underlines the refugee crisis caused by the upsurge of violence as a result of the regime changes in Afghanistan and tells the stories (albeit via only a handful of families) about the more than 5 million refugees that fled to Pakistan and Iran during the height of the violence, of which more than 2 million still remain in the neighbouring countries. More shockingly still was that the families that returned to Kabul lives on less than one US dollar per day. If nothing else, this book forces us to take a long hard look into our own lives and all that we have.
I was unable to put it down, and was truly sad when the story came to an end. If I were to sum up the book in two words: “Life changing”