The Thousand Splendid Suns Between Our Souls

 

“Laila watches Mariam glue strands of yarn onto her doll’s head.

In a few years, this little girl will be a woman who will make small demands on life, who will never burden others, who will never let on that she too had sorrows, disappointments, dreams that have been ridiculed.

A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but shaped by the turbulence that washes over her.

Already Laila sees something behind this young girl’s eyes, something deep in her core, that neither Rasheed nor the Taliban will be able to break. Something as hard and unyielding as a block of limestone. Something that, in the end, will be her undoing and Laila’s salvation.

The little girl looks up.

Puts the doll down.

Smiles.” 

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (355)

~*****~

“Mariam had never before been wanted like this. Love had never been declared to her so guilelessly, so unreservedly.

Aziza made Mariam want to weep.

“Why have you pinned your little heart to an old, ugly hag like me?” Mariam would murmur into Aziza’s hair.

“I am nobody, don’t you see? A dehati. What have I got to give you?”

But Aziza only muttered contentedly and dug her face in deeper. And when she did that, Mariam swooned. Her eyes watered. Her heart took flight. And she marvelled at how, after all these years of rattling loose, she had found in this little creature the first true connection in her life of false, failed connections.”

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (226)

~*****~

 

Say:

  • In this first quote, Laila is visiting the hut where Mariam grew up, after being lead there by Mullah Faizullah’s son Hamza. While she’s walking there, she begins to feel Marium’s presence all around her- the stories they used to share come to life as she relives Mariam’s childhood. She sees Mariam fishing with her father and playing around the hut, small and innocent. When she enters the house and looks around, she immediately visualizes Mariam as a little girl playing with her dolls, waiting for Jalil. She ponders upon all the sacrifices that Mariam had to make, and how selflessly she had endured any hardship that came towards her. Mariam manifests before her, and Laila realizes that she is not really gone; rather, her presence permeates Laila’s very consciousness itself. Her existence is evident in the memories she has impressed upon Laila, in the grace that marked her every action and her incredible resilience. The fact that she sees Mariam smile reminds her of her selflessness, her willingness to give so much of herself to those she loved.   

 

  • In this second quote, we see the development of Laila and Mariam as friends, no longer at odds with one another after Laila protected Mariam from being abused by Rasheed. When she goes downstairs later that night to get a drink of water, she sees Laila sleeping on the floor, with Aziza awake and about to cry. Mariam soothes her, and soon after leaves clothes for her outside Laila’s door. In this way, the two women make peace with each other and bond. When Aziza takes a liking to Mariam, nuzzling herself closer to her and crying for her, Mariam incredibly flustered, and can’t seem to understand why anyone would love her so, though she is overwhelmingly grateful. 

 

Mean:

  • Earlier on in the book, Mariam remembers how Nana once told her that snowflakes were the sighs of aggrieved women, breaking and floating silently to remind the world of how silently they suffer and endure. In Nana’s eyes, endurance was a corrosion of character, something that separated you from your personhood. It was synonymous with suffering and pain, and thus something that left you tainted. Mariam juxtaposes this belief; instead of allowing her trials to break her down, her elegance and strength of character is polished and refined through perseverance. Her ability to love selflessly, her unbreakable resolve, her capacity to forgive, all act as an anchor through which she continues to be connected with Laila and Aziza, even after her death. Her endurance does not erode her- it builds her, and allows her to reach out again and again for love and hope, whilst also extending it to those around her.

 

  • With the second quote, this is the beginning of a new episode of Mariam’s life- Aziza’s unbiased, unreserved love allows her to feel the flutters of hope and joy in her heart once more. Her marriage with Rasheed has left her barren in more ways than one, but through her relationship with Laila and Aziza, she naturally grows into the role of motherhood she had been deprived of seven times. Aziza’s is a love without labels- she does not deem Mariam’s desire for love as illegitimate; her need against all reason for Mariam allows Mariam to sacrifice herself for her and Laila- for them, she is able to “think like a mother”.

 

Matter:

For me personally, the Matter portion of both these quotes is intertwined; one cannot find love without endurance, and a will to endure fails to flourish if it is not coupled with love.

If I’m being honest with myself, it has always been really hard for me to say the three words others seem to feel with such ease, without reproach or fear. I’m a cynic when it comes to love- I adore the idea of it, the layers of illusion with which it is painted, the promises and the dramatic don’t-leave-me’s and the fated encounter that weaves together the destiny of two soulmates; but in reality, it never does seem to play out like that. In reality, so much could go wrong.

Before you think of me as completely emotionally withdrawn and a social recluse (which isn’t too far off, to be honest), let me reassure you; I feel love. It’s just whenever  I feel it, for family or friends, I struggle immensely in saying so. I think a major part of it is growing up in a Pakistani culture, where parents are more reserved with their affection and children are expected to be too. Love is shown, not said, and growing up in Canada, where saying “I love you” is marginally more common always made me feel like an outcast to this emotion that seems to bring about more pain than it’s worth. It stresses me out, it’s embarrassing, it’s scary, and it makes me feel guilty.

So there’s a point to all this, I promise.

My first time genuinely coming to terms with all these emotions was when I was taking care of this little 2 year old child, because his mom was busy (and also I love kids). I remember when I held the kid he was crying, and I remember the frantic urge I felt to calm him down, get him to relax, so I carried him to a picture hanging on the wall as though it was the most interesting thing in the world, encouraging him to trace his hands over the words and what have you. He calmed down almost immediately, and I remember him looking up at me, his eyes still shining with tears, and smiling at me, before eventually resting his head on my shoulder.

It’s such a strange thing to be emotional over, but I remember that my eyes started tearing up and all I could think was thank you, over and over again:

 

Thank you for finding the depth of your world in my two arms.

Thank you for allowing me to be your refuge.

Thank you for trusting me so wholeheartedly.

Thank you for teaching me the

mercy that rains down on those who open their hearts,

the innocence that love allows one to retain.

 

I was holding in my arms the personification of purity, a being that would in himself grow and love and expand the world around him, and if I could provide this child even a moment of comfort that he may grow to pass on to others, I was grateful.

To this child, I was just a babysitter, someone to look after him for a while, and that’s also when I came to appreciate the selflessness tied with being a mother- the seconding of one’s own identity and dreams for the sake of your children, the endurance with which you must uphold the thankless task of raising a child. They do this- all of it- for love. If that is what love is, then I think I can understand why people devote their lives to this labour, for even if it procures only a single drop of its sweet nectar, perhaps that makes it worth it.

 

.Related image

 

Emulation/Response:

 

 

Time and

again,

I have been called to the stands

to testify

that which has formed a haven in my heart.

I have been summoned to recite the plea

poised on the precipice of my lips for so long,

I fear I may have forgotten the words.

They say

it is a privilege

to surrender

beneath the shimmering moons

on the roof of my mouth,

to  exhale in its grey gloss and glimmer

the gilded words

prophesied to spill

the contents of my soul,

as though they were an abundance of

small silver coins,

a charitable donation

from the heart of one fool

to the wayward pocket of the next.

A penny for my thoughts,

thinking you can draw a confession

from wishing-well lungs

simply by willing it so

It’s not that easy,

allowing the air to fill with the weight

of emotions

too sublime

to sigh;

I’m sorry-

that’s not something I’ve learnt how to do,

because if there’s anything I’ve learnt

in my 16 years of

push and pull,

can’t and won’t,

need and want,

it’s that love

is not a

copper coin-

it is the thousand splendid suns

bursting between the threads of souls interwoven.

It is not the static, stagnant waters of wishing-well woes,

but the silken flow of  endurance,

smoothing,

shaping,

the paths of our lives intertwined.

Love is the name given to the heartbeats

you were not born with,

but that you recognize as your own,

the innocence of meeting a soul

that fits in yours,

the beauty of humans

that

just

click.

So I’m sorry

about the copper and silver coins

I once thought of as love;

the cheapening of a universal communication,

the corruption of a curiosity

deemed unbecoming.

I’m sorry that the wells of my lungs

are apt to overflow-

 where you thought there was a drought,

there are floods-

the likes of which not even I have seen-

perched on the precipice of my lips like a prayer,

tended to in the chambers of my mind,

the fibres of my soul,

the echo of my heartbeat;

 

My love is silent,

roaring in my blood,

and, for a second,

I could have sworn-

so was yours

 

xeno the human connection - Lutalica

 

I’m glad you made it through that!

For my emulation, I wanted to play on the themes of rekindled hope that I saw in the above quotes; love, especially for Mariam, is considered a treacherous illusion because of  how much she has suffered for her right to it. However, she is able to redeem both herself and her humanity through the relations she builds and her deep capacity for love. I wish to redeem myself from a lifetime of being told that love devalues and cheapens, from a lifetime where love was a rusted penny (where I was considered one too). I don’t want to throw away my ability to love- rather, to be human- so easily, and it’s a difficult resolution to make;

I will try, once more, for the sake of the blood in my veins, and the people whom I love…

So much more than I’ll ever be able to say.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/587790188837801041/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/afghanistans-first-female-street-artist_us_56c26fd5e4b0b40245c79f3c

https://shop.kmberggren.com/Lit_From_Within_mother_and_child_with_bird_print_p/litfromwithin.htm

Xeno, The Human Connection

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The Thousand Splendid Suns Between Our Souls

  1. Dear Hijab,

    I cannot express to you how beautiful your writing is. Thank you for this piece.

    The phrasing in both your emulation and your analysis of the quotes is breathtaking – “an outcast to this emotion,” “procures only a single drop of its sweet nectar, perhaps that makes it worth it,” and “love devalues and cheapens,” were just a few phrases that I truly appreciated. The ease with which you subtly and poetically create images within your analysis, and in your emulation, is something that I look up to in writing, something that I find so satisfying when reading – I believe it is indicative of a great, well rounded writer. I struggle with this myself, and reading your writing is teaching me how I can achieve my goal of incorporating this style into my own writing. Likewise, the depth of understanding that is created in your piece can be attributed to the poetic manner of your syntax.

    Further, your emulation was incredible – I truly believe it should be a published poem. The way that you incorporated the quotes into your poem so seamlessly speaks to your ability to understand and relate to the texts you read. Throughout this whole blog, I could hear you reading to me – it was so authentically written and perfectly aligned with the layout and expectations for the Quotation Presentation.

    In terms of improvement, the only thing that I noticed were a few GUMPS, namely in the difference between a hyphen and dash (just needed a space after the words before and following the hyphen), but it is such a minor detail that it did not take away from this piece.

    Again, thank you for writing this piece and I look forward to learning so much from you this semester.

    – Shyla

    1. Dear Shyla,

      You’re an absolute pleasure to learn from and grow with; I’m so pumped about being in the same family group as you and Mia!! Honestly, any compliment from a person as astounding as you leaves me fangirling a tiny bit (actually, maybe more than a tiny bit). Thank you for being so willing to find the beauty in this piece riddled with insecurity and self-conscious editing. On that note, I want to thank you earnestly for being one of the first people to formally introduce me to AP LA, and thereby ignite within me the desire to understand this small haven within FFCA. Thank you for always pushing me to do my best and be assertive – I look up to you and your hunger for knowledge, your genuine desire for self-improvement. It’s safe to say that I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you!

      To be frank with you, posting the emulation kind of terrified me – I’m pretty blunt when it comes to how I feel regarding general emotions (fear towards Physics, happiness, anxiety), but expressing and writing a blog on an emotion as personal as love was an actual struggle, especially considering my aversion to anything related to it. The fact that you think my poem could actually pass as a published poem… that means the world to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      I’ll definitely work on the whole dashes/hyphen mess – thank you for calling that to my attention, otherwise I would have missed it!

      Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to me (and everyone in this school), Shyla! I can’t wait to learn so much more from you!!

      – Hijab

  2. Dearest Hijab,

    I adore everything about you – your writing, your attitude, your smile, your eagerness to learn, and everything else that I don’t have room to list 🙂 . During your presentation, I was blown away by the clarity in which you were able to phrase your words: to be able to transfer ones thoughts onto paper and speech so eloquently, it’s something I’m deeply inspired by.

    Furthermore, the way you can play with words, by making a phrase so simple, yet hold so much depth. For instance, the way you summed up the big message, “one cannot find love without endurance, and a will to endure fails to flourish if it is not coupled with love.” – WOW!!! I also must say, we were “lowkey” synced in this presentation, not only did we choose one of the same quotes, both wrote our perspectives on love, and we coincidentally chose the same ending image – I must have absorbed some of your wisdom from being in the same class as you, hehe. All jokes aside (but not really, because I truly aspire to be as good of a writer as you), I want to say thank you for expressing your perspective on love and how it was always “shown, not said” in your culture. This was always something I have struggled with myself but I’ve never been able to write down on paper in a meaningful way. Not only that, but as a writer, you have a distinct and strong voice. As Shyla said above, throughout this entire blog, I was able to read everything in your voice, almost able to look through your eyes and catch a glimpse of your essence. Along with your poem/emulation, the amount of alliterations absolutely blew me away. They were woven in so effortlessly that it added a big impact on your piece. And once more, I agree with what Shyla said above, it really should be a published poem – t’was amazing!!!!

    In terms of improvement, I honestly think your writing is beyond my ability to critique. However, I would recommend to reorganize the layout of your blog. The aesthetics of the placement could be a bit more condensed and orderly, it’d just be visually easier for the reader to follow. Perhaps you could make the sections more clear by separating it by a bigger/bolder font or maybe inserting images where a new section begins? These are just some ideas, overall, it really doesn’t take away from the authenticity and beauty of your blog.

    Thank you for this.

    Sincerely,
    Judy

    1. My darling Judy,

      You inspire me so much more than I’ll ever be able to say. Your writing is always so raw and genuine, not to mention the ease with which you tie in such beautiful imagery – you have such an ethereal integrity to you that helps me realize just how much I delight in your personhood. Any praise from a person as profound as you leaves me shook; I have learnt a lot about being genuine about my emotions through you, Judy, and I’m so glad that you think it came through clearly in my emulation. I adore your writing – especially your poetry – so much, so I’m genuinely super grateful that you think it could be published. Coming from someone as intelligent as you, that means so much to me.

      ALSO I’M REALLY GLAD THAT WE’RE LOW-KEY SYNCED – THAT’S SO COOL!! Great minds think alike, as they say 😉 Though I have to admit, your genius tends to permeate the souls that surround you. And your gif is MUCH cooler!!

      I actually really like your suggestion for the formatting. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think more visuals add another layer of coherence. Thank you for calling that to my attention, and for tolerating my ramblings, and for being such an amazing writer/human, Judy! I can’t wait to continue binging your blogs!

      Sincerely,

      Hijab

  3. My sweet sweet Hijab,

    Your literally are the thousand splendid suns of our classroom, lighting up the space around you with the brilliance of your amazing smile! I had the great honor of meeting you the day you arrived at our school, but never had I imagined that this shy girl could write words brimming with depth and emotion. Hijab, you have one of the purest, kindest souls I have ever met and that breathtakingly translates unto paper. The beautiful truth is that your whole presentation was an emulation and you left me in AWE!!

    I have no shame in saying that I am envious of your ability to articulate beautiful phrases. Some of my favourites include, “love/ is not a/ copper coin,” “for even if it procures only a single drop of its sweet nectar, perhaps that makes it worth it,” and “It is not the static, stagnant waters of wishing-well woes,/ but the silken flow of endurance,/ smoothing,/ shaping/ the paths of our lives intertwined.” I could spend the entire time quoting you; however, there isn’t enough space or time :)! All jokes aside, the concept of your presentation is one that is greatly difficult to communicate; however, you presented it flawlessly. Growing up in an Indian culture, I understand your difficulty, as it’s not common for our household to explicitly communicate the words, ‘I love you’. Although I love my parents with all my heart, I find it incredible awkward to state those three simple words. They may be three simple words, but if you mean it – they are like honey combs, dripping in sweetness and warm. Your poetic analyzation of this quote served well in bringing out the evidence and coherently unified the whole theme of love. Although Shyla and Judy has already mentioned, I can’t avoid pointing out that all throughout the blog, I could hear your voice speaking the words. That is a skill difficult to master and one that I am working towards, perhaps you can help me? 🙂
    Furthermore, you emulation is, without any speck of doubt, a masterpiece. The flow and unity from one line to the next is consistent and binds the poem into one beautiful song from the heart. I especially liked your reoccurring analogy to coins. One thing money cannot buy – Love and it happens to be that, “one cannot find love without endurance, and a will to endure fails to flourish if it is not coupled with love.”
    BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

    I cannot believe Hunni is asking me to suggest something for you to improve on, when there is CLEARLY nothing to improve. Nonetheless, it is my duty (more like assignment), so I have to say something =). Your poem, as I mentioned before, is absolutely breathtaking, and one think I would suggest is to break up the lines into stanza’s. This may just be personally preference, but identifiable stanzas helps the reader understand and reflect upon the said statements. But, it is simple just a very very minor suggest, with our without it, your piece is still amazing (I feel like I haven’t said that enough)!!

    All in all, sweet Hijab, I am so incredible grateful to be in a classroom (actually all four classes of this semester!) with you. You are an amazing individual that is truly inspirational! Can’t wait to learn more from you!

    Lots of Love,
    Hefseeba

    1. AHHH HEFSEEBA!!

      I’m kinda glad you can’t see my face right now because it is a shade of pink I didn’t know was possible – you flatter me more than my tiny heart can take! How on Earth am I going to find the words to respond to the infinite kindness you’ve showered upon me since literally the second I stepped into FFCA? I’m so, so thankful that I got to know you in Grade 10 – creating bomb Business projects, dying through Leadership/CALM with Kristy and Vicky… remember when we thought THAT was stress ;)? Suffice it to say we know better now! 🙂 I’m so lucky that I was able to meet and befriend you when I was a trash Grade 10 intent on disliking FFCA, because you’ve helped in making this school – as well as this classroom – a special kind of home. If I can in any way be a sun in this classroom, then I hope you realize that you are the galaxy through which I find the refuge that allows me to shine.

      I’m so happy that my presentation and emulation were able to resonate, and that my message came across coherently – as you said, it’s kind of a complicated subject to articulate, especially when you’re so used to pushing it to the back of your mind. It was difficult trying to coax out the nuances of how I feel love, because it’s an emotion I’m so used to ignoring and belittling, perhaps out of fear for the vulnerability it reveals. It’s thanks to people like you, Hefseeba, that the rest of us feel comfortable enough to express the depth of our emotions, and I’m so grateful for that. You’re so incredibly compassionate, hardworking, and intelligent, and I’m kind of mad that you didn’t join AP prior to Grade 12 – you’re someone that pushes other people to do their very best.

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I actually have a problem when it comes to formatting poems (aesthetics are hard), so any advice is greatly appreciated! I’m looking so forward to soaking up the brilliance you radiate, Hefseeba – I’m so lucky I have you in all my classes this semester!! 🙂 Let’s make this semester absolutely brilliant!

      Love,

      Hijab

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