Redemption (both in your eyes and in mine)

I just want to take this moment to sincerely apologize for my lack of preparation for the first presentation of our AP year. I know some of you don’t know me very well, and I didn’t leave the best first impression (though it wasn’t far from accurate). I hope we can set that aside and move on, as I present to you, the presentation I wish you all saw.


“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” – A Thousand Splendid Suns (192)



The context in which I used this quote is when Babi is taking his family away from Kabul. He is deciding on which books he should take with him, because he knows he cannot take them all. He remembers a poem from Saib-e-Tabrizi, but only a certain part of it. The quote itself is defining the beauty of Kabul as indefinite, as Babi was cherishing his moments before he had to leave.


It exemplifies Babi’s reluctance in his decision, especially as before he was remembering his entire life in Kabul. In the context of the poem, being the only lines with a lack of certainty in their words. I believe that this shows Babi’s undying love for his home, regardless of the state in which it is currently in. He knows that everything he is in this life is due to his love for his city. Anything which makes him a worthwhile human is due to his growth in Kabul.


All my life I’ve been told of the potential my body holds. That my procrastination-like tendencies have held me back from a greater success. And for so long, I believed that if I looked deep inside myself for long enough, I could find that. But now I’ve realized that it is of much greater ease to be around someone who brings out the best in you. I have been blessed with the presence of great people in my life, many of which have allowed the better parts of me to be revealed, even to myself. These valuable members of my memories are the people who I believe I, for lack of better words, acquire my “beauty” from. And it is these people who cross my mind the most, especially during times of distress, as a reminder that, regardless of what may occur, such a collective beauty will always remain steadfast.

As a member of this AP class, I have to mention how grateful I am for each and every one of you. You all have taught me so much about myself, many things even I could not have known. It takes a special individual to allow one to find the beauty in parts of themselves they did not know they had, and I consider all of you as such individuals – as my family.


They say I am beautiful

And perhaps they are right. Perhaps I do have this undefined beauty about me that I cannot perceive. Perhaps my desire to see wholesome truth, naked and white, has rendered me blind, and hence I am unable to find it in myself. They say I have beauty behind my walls but I cannot see it past the wounds and the scars. And as I scavenge for it through the depths of the dark, I realize I may be lost. Lost and afraid. Not sure of which ways to look before I continue to trudge with glasses too big for my face and one of the lenses missing. Gone. Hindering my already impaired vision. Alone and lost I find myself strangely unable to cry. The tears are prevented from flowing as though they aren’t mine to shed. I stumble across a piece of glass, also broken, and through my defective eyesight, I manage to glimpse at my reflection. Alone. Frightened. Ugly. Discerning only the parts of me which make me so. The scars on my body from falling so much. The bags under my eyes. A gaze of hopelessness. I take another glance into the glass and wonder what part about me they see that deceives them into admiration. I don’t believe them when they tell me I am beautiful. I fear they say it out of pity. Scarred and lost, I fall to my knees. Devoid of hope. Right where you found me. When you admired the resilience in my eyes. The curls in my hair. The shape of my face. The quirks in me, good and bad. When you told me I was beautiful.

And I knew I was beautiful

But I do not feel beautiful. Not yet. Sitting alone at home, effervescently awaiting your arrival as I sulk in my own darkness. I tell myself I don’t need anyone; and yet I cannot help but admit that there is nothing more I crave than the thought of you. The sight of you. My human remains unfulfilled without you. I cannot be satisfied until my very scent is molded by your presence. Until I can be wholly beautiful. I sit back and ponder in complete fascination of the great virtues you exhibit – your sense of care, understanding. How you’d observe my every sentence with great care, as though dealing with an infant. The stature with which you held yourself – you weren’t doing anything specific in particular and yet I could not help but be left in awe as you’d walk away (forced to go), with grace in every step – abandoning me with unoccupied desire. I only feel beautiful with you. Only you can bring out the thousand splendid suns from inside me. Only you can reveal the countless moons that shimmer on my roof. Only you can make me beautiful. From the tips of my toes to the crown of my head, I am engulfed by the desire to become yours. To be sculpted by you as a the sculptor. To display my beauty as a derivative of your own. Our beauty.

Your beauty illuminates mine.

I have found peace and light inside myself while in your presence

Meri Jaan, we are beautiful.

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4 thoughts on “Redemption (both in your eyes and in mine)

  1. First impressions are difficult but I feel you’ve proved yourself capable of being great. Please do keep it up in a timely manner. 😉

    Much love,

  2. Dear Muhammad,

    First off, I believe you do not need to apologize for your presentation because I never otherwise would have been able to see the extraordinarily supportive nature of the class so soon into the year. It was difficult for me to understand how a whole class, with more than 20 students, would be able to wholeheartedly encourage a member without a spec of judgment or selfishness in preserving their wise words for the work of their own. The whole class rather proved to be the opposite, the selflessness of sharing insight truly depicted how each individual’s offering to the discussion worked as sandstones to ultimately create a masterpiece – a world wonder with the foundation of grains of sand offered by the few words of the quote itself. So thank you for that.

    In terms of your writing itself, from your matter analysis, I believe your ability to reinforce metaphoric parts of the quote throughout your writing definitely enhanced the understanding of the quote, as it frequently brought the attention of the reader back to the meaning and context of your source and novel. Another literary technique that I appreciated in your analysis was your inclusion of alliteration in one of your lines, as it has been rare where I have seen a writer use such “story-writing” tools in their foundational analysis. Both the full-circling (referencing back to quote) and alliteration techniques were most evident in the line, “These valuable members of my memories are the people who I believe I, for lack of better words, acquire my “beauty” from.” Furthermore, I loved the descriptive language in your personal response when you were describing your figurative appearance, especially in the line, “Not sure of which ways to look before I continue to trudge with glasses too big for my face and one of the lenses missing.” Further in the personal response, your usage of such effective and appropriate vocabulary left me in awe, as it seems like some of the words you used were intended for the purpose of your creative work, such as in the lines, “I am engulfed by the desire to become yours. To be sculpted by you as the sculptor. To display my beauty as a derivative of your own.” In these lines, the words “engulfed” and “derivative” seem to beautifully encapsulate the meaning behind your lines (also because, if I never knew otherwise, I would never associate the word derivative with chemistry since it fits in like a piece of a puzzle in your writing).

    As for improvement, your writing was absolutely beautiful and heartfelt, for both personal response and analysis. Since I must, however, comment on some source of tweaking and editing, I would suggest adding more to the ‘Mean’ section of your analysis by perhaps even connecting it to its reappearance in the novel, by explaining the overall symbolism associated with the lines and their context in Afghanistan along with the purpose of the lines in the original poem.

    Overall, I absolutely loved your writing, as your emulation and critical analysis of the quote were both quite insightful and magnificent in the way that you crafted such intentional lines that spurred admiration from me, and probably any other reader of your work.

    I have known you for a long time; however, after reading this piece I realized that I have much more to learn from and about you, thus I look forward to doing so this year. 🙂



  3. Muhammad

    First and foremost I’d like to thank you for taking one for the team here, and I just want you to know that even if this wasn’t the most prepared presentation you’ve ever given, it was still stellar in terms of conveying the way your brilliant mind works. I appreciate infinitely what you bring to the class and you’re always a great person to work with.

    As for your analysis of the quote, I must say I appreciate the choice you’ve made, even though I admittedly didn’t like A Thousand Splendid Suns, especially considering all the other books I have read next to it. This quote, when I first read it, went completely over my head. I had no idea what to make of it or what to think of it, much less how it related to the story at all. In this sense, I think you’ve done a fantastic job illuminating me and giving me an opening of my own to interpret this very open ended little phrase. I appreciate the relation you’ve made to this quote and the entirety of Kabul, a relation that I may have found myself making had it not been for my complete oversight of how much of this story was actually about Kabul, and not exclusively the characters themselves. On further rumination, I can see that this quote serves almost as a fractal of what Afghanistan has become. This little poem describes not only the city of Kabul, but it’s people by extension. The struggles of the city to maintain its beauty and spirit in the face of war and destruction, and the struggles of the women and men of the city to simply stay alive and maintain their humanity. Without a doubt this has given me a far greater appreciation for this book and it’s themes, so I thank you for that.

    Moving onto your own relationship to this quote, I must applaud you once again, for you’ve taken this quote, in all its profoundness and meaning and made it perfectly relatable to not only yourself but others. I’ve noticed that a lot of the time, when the prospect of procrastination is mentioned in any sense, especially in front of a crowd, the typical initial reaction is laughter. This I find odd, because procrastination in reality is rarely a pleasant thing. It makes you feel powerless, useless, and incapable of controlling your own actions. It hides your beauty and potential, and I of all people understand this feeling. It’s only natural. The way you’ve taken this idea of procrastination and illuminated it into a spotlight that takes it more seriously .

    I also love how in both your analysis and your emulation, you correlated potential to beauty, and furthermore, your claim that those who see to their greatest extent your true beauty, they will thus bring you to your full potential, developing as you said, “a collective beauty will always remain steadfast.” My only note of improvement for you would, aside from repressing predilection for procrastination, is to synthesize your ideas more closely to one another, as both your thesis and your poetry will become stronger if you do so. You did a great job of explaining beauty and potential within your analysis, but I would’ve liked if there was a stronger synthesis to procrastination, or any other idea that relates to you.

    I enjoyed reading this Muhammad, and take it from me you’re one of the most beautiful people I know, and although you may not realize it, you bring out the potential of so many other people in this class with your writing and your ideas.



  4. Dearest Muhammad,

    I am genuinely moved by the growth you have displayed this year in AP. I’m honestly so happy you’re making the effort to change your habits, so that you may inspire the 11’s and others to be the best version of themselves.
    This piece was well put together, in that I enjoyed how organized your points regarding say, mean, and matter were. In addition, your sentence variety was well done, and I felt your points were further exemplified as a result. Your connection to the quote was much stronger here and I began to better understand why you chose this quote out of all the others we read.
    There are a couple of grows I would offer to enhance this piece. Regarding your emulation, I still feel a disconnect between the story and the quote. You had the concept of a mangled image that deters people from seeing the beauty within, but I was waiting for you to explore more of your strengths. If you are Kabul, then what is it that makes you beautiful? (This is how I interpret the quote, I only ask to envoke further thinking) I don’t believe the quote means that beauty must be extracted by an external force. A small issue I had was during the line “And perhaps they are right. Perhaps I do have this undefined beauty about me that I cannot perceive. Perhaps my desire to see wholesome truth, naked and white, has rendered me blind, and hence I am unable to find it in myself.” My issue here is the addition of the word ‘and’ as I felt it was not needed and only hindered the style you were going for. Removing the and would benefit the repetition, and further convey that sense of doubt and hesitance you have towards finding your own value. (Small thing, I know aha) Lastly, I feel the abundance of simple sentences removed the impact you intended for them to have. As I continued my read, I didn’t feel they were necessary or added anything.
    Overall, I did adore your take on what I believe is probably the hardest quote to connect to in all of the books we were given to read. Your continued growth as an individual and as a writer continue to impress me, and I am so thankful everytime I enter a classroom with you.

    Much love,

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