Two books, two women and two countries


I read “A Thousand splendid suns” (TSS) by Khaled Hosseini some time back and it was a “Splendid” book by all means. Book is mainly about story of two Afganistan women who face cruel challenges of their lives, which lead not only by cultural and social factors, but political atmosphere of the country. Beneath the main story, I also learnt bit about the Afgan culture in a different angle, which couldn’t be caught in usual western media.

Recently I was lucky enough to read the book, “Disobedient Girl” (DG) by Ru Freeman. It was a very nice book which I enjoyed a lot. This book carries two distinct stories of two Sri Lankan women who struggle with their lives.

At a glance, it is like comparing Apples and Oranges if we try to compare Afganistan and Sri Lanka.. Its meaningless.. They are of course different entities.. Afgan society is an Islamic society while Sri Lanka is very much a Buddhist society. How women are treated is far different in these two countries, which clearly shows in these two books. This contrast is obvious and nicely grasped by someone who read both books in  a short period of time. Credibility of that ground level information is the fact that those writers were born in those soils. Khaled Hosseini was born in Afganistan and Ru Freeman in Sri Lanka. At least they are not reporters who jump in to a ground with an agenda, but story tellers with roots. But now I am trying to see some similarities in between these two books in a different angle. This could be controversial.

Both books discuss about life stories of two women that head towards merely tragic ends. In both books it shows how their lives are being critically influenced by political unrest of the country. TSS shows how their society was badly beaten by terrorism (Taliban) and unstable governments greatly influenced by major powers of the world (US and Russia). In other hand DG highlights how Sri Lankan civil society was affected by JVP insurgency in 89 and suffered from a civil war for decades.

Most of all, I think, both countries had to struggle with the influence of first world since both countries are very important in terms of their location in the world map. During the cold war and afterwards, western countries badly wanted to have leaders for these countries, who can be handled by them. In order to gain the control, both countries were deployed terrorism. Their cultures were challenged and social structures were destroyed. Destroying the fundamentals of culture is the base of destroying a nation. Though it is different the way those women suffer in two books, roots remain the same.

According to western media, both countries are degraded to a lower level. (Thankfully, Sri Lanka managed to get rid of the terrorism afterwards) But reality is far different. Both countries were pushed to such situations... both countries have their own culture and social structure... as same as women in London or Paris, women in troubled countries too, have their own desires, dignity and feminine character.. Jealously, love, kindness, bond with mankind, emotions...  TSS tells how Afgan women risked their lives to enjoy TITANIC movie in hidden televisions, even after usage of televisions were banned and killed who were found to be watching.

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