“Only one skill. And it’s this: “tahamul”. Endure.”
Kahleed Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns. (Page 18)
The quote above is said to young Mariam by her mother, Nana. Nana is rejecting further education for Mariam, saying she already knows all she will need to know as a women. To endure. Education was not as highly valued for women at this time, leading to the quote.
The repetition of the word “Endure” in multiple languages is not for the character, but the reader. To establish characters are not speaking English, despite their words translated into it.
Nana’s life has been a brutal one , full of judgement that her male counterparts will never experience. This is demonstrated by the dichotomy in her relationship with Jalil. They have both committed the same sin, of having a child out of wedlock. Yet, Jalil still lives in paradise ,while Nana lives in squalor.
She realizes the only way to get by is to endure. There will be no help from outside sources. Why would her daughter live a life any different?
Woman from this time were expected to take what they are given. As shown by the guard who refuses to help Mariam and Laila while fleeing Rasheed. He gave them no sympathy, just told them to handle it themselves.
As for the repetition of language, this is to establish place. To let Western readers know they are not in their culture anymore. People who speak the same language wouldn’t need to clarify the language the speak.
I have survived a great deal through endurance, but it was not all I had. I disagree with the single-minded nature of the quote. I have endured mental illness, harassment, self doubt. Yet, endurance wasn’t my be-all-end-all. Overcoming adversity came with acceptance, empowerment, and adaptability. Upon seeing this quote, I was struck with it’s falseness, and I felt the need to prove it wrong. I am more faceted than the stubborn Nana. Women aren’t one dimensional caricatures of a single trait.
Loops of thought: I am not what I think I am.
Each one quelled, a new one rises so very similar: But what if I am what I think I am?
Backwards and forwards for hours, weeks, years: I am not. But what if I am?
You are not a thought. Thought is a consideration, fleeting, unless you force it to stay.
You’ve let it leave, and slammed the door shut behind it.
You are not one or the other: There is a name for that, you know.
Loving men, like everyone you’ve ever known: I have something to tell you.
Loving women, like the word you hear whispered on the playground: Will you listen?
There is freedom to allowing yourself to exist in the middle.
No longer do you operate in binary.
The man across the street: I used to be bad, but I’m trying to be real good.
Leaning on your counter: Age is just a number baby.
On the floor: I’m only trying to dance, c’mon.
As he laughs and grabs you by the waist.
That waist can’t drink yet.
Age taught this one: I’ve been worn down.
You can’t afford to fight the inevitable anymore: What can I do to make it less painful?
You have learned too well: How can I help?
Everything in moderation, no skill in its entirety.
You know the hills you die on.
I have lived a relatively short life, but not one devoid of experience. I created this piece in two halves. One side is more confrontational, and directed at myself or the reader. I chose to use the pronoun “you” in order to reaffirm the ideals I’ve taught myself. The tone that half adopts fits the way I had to speak to myself when I was suffering under intrusive thought, restorative and direct, which helped bring me out that period of my life.
The second half is the dialogue, or thought processes, I experienced whilst learning the skill mentioned as the header of each stanza. In first person, I detail intrusive thought, coming out, catcalls, and my desire to help. This side is the shyer, quieter side: it’s the side that influenced the change, while the other is the one that cemented it.
For each stanza, I wanted to focus on the specific event that taught me each skill. Endurance was defined by overcoming intrusive thoughts and depression. Acceptance was created by coming to terms with my fluctuating identity. Empowerment was taught by standing up to harassment, and finally, adaptability was taught by age.