Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books and Memories...

Some spoilers ahead.

I just finished listening to A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (narrated by Atossa Leoni, who did a great job with the pronunciations) and have enjoyed it quite a bit. Not the same way that I enjoyed The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd, or even the way I enjoyed Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund, but more in a way that I enjoy reading about recent history (the last 40 years). This book is set in Afghanistan and begins before the Russian invasion then ends just  short while ago. It's not brutally honest about all the things that happened, but nothing is sugar-coated, either.

I couldn't help but think about where I was during certain parts of the book. During the Soviet invasion I was celebrating Christmas with my family in Tennessee. When Tariq lost his leg due to a mine, I was in Washington playing with my paper dolls in the trailer we lived in. When Laila married Rasheed out of desparation for her own life, I was marveling at the wonder of my own son. The day before Zalmai was born in a filthy hospital through cesarean section without anesthesia (all due to the Taliban rules against women), my daughter was born in a clean hospital with decorations on the wall and all the medical equipment I could imagine standing by just in case something went wrong. During the drought that lasted years I was well-fed and living in a comfortable apartment and was unhappy with the situation I was in. And, of course, I was shocked when the towers fell here.

I would like to think that I'm not a shallow person, but I do get wrapped up in my own life most of the time. I know that there are horrible things going on in the world we live in. And when I read the news or hear something on the radio, the reality of it sinks in and breaks my heart. I know that sounds trite, but it's so much deeper than I can explain. I feel an aching in my chest that brings tears to my eyes. Knowing that there are women in the world who are brutalized with no recourse (the Middle East, Africa, etc.), knowing that children are used to build an army of hatred, knowing that so many people are starving and losing loved ones and dying... it truly hurts. And I give thanks for the simple struggles I have. I give thanks for the dreariness of counting out each coin so that I have enough money to keep my electricity on. Or to get a bag of chocolate chips for homemade cookies. Or to take my daughter to the movie occasionally. I give thanks for these things. Even as I cry for those who suffer.

I am thankful for the life I have.

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