Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mixing metaphors

"She remembered Nana saying once that each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. That all the sighs drifted up the sky, gathered into clouds, then broke into tiny pieces that fell silently on the people below. As a reminder of how women like us suffer, she'd said. How quietly we endure all that falls upon us."
- Khaled Hosseini A Thousand Splendid Suns

Earlier this evening swept away by this book. I picked it up from the bookstore intending to skim the first page and I was wrapped up in it for the next several hours, neglecting the homework I had spread out before me. It's a little bit like being out of control because I wanted to continue reading the book but I also had a lot on my to-do list. I would have finished A Thousand Splendid Suns in one sitting if the Barnes &Noble didn't close at 10pm.

The feeling captured in this quotation (and in much of A Thousand Splendid Suns) reminds me of a Chinese expression 命苦,literally a bitter life, as in to have a bitter life. This meaning of bitter is endurance through a lifetime of pain, grief, and harshness is used a lot in Chinese. I guess it's also used to some extent in English, though I think bitter more often describes cynical and rancorous outlook on life.

I admit Hosseini's plotlines are rather melodramatic but I can't deny that I was moved by stories of women against the backdrop of violence, political turmoil, and the snow-capped mountains.I think this is what drew me to A Thousand Splendid Suns rather than The Kite Runner, which explores the relationships among men, fathers, and sons.

It hasn't snowed yet this winter though I think it will soon. And when it does, I will think about the snowflakes. 

2 comments:

ecomarci said...

I read a Thousand Splendid Suns while I was in Bangladesh. It was extremely powerful.

Rebel Fox said...

That really makes me want to read that book. I've seen the Kite Runner. I've read Reading Lolita in Tehran and really enjoyed it tho it gave me impulses to read Austin and eat coffee ice cream-

In general, I like literature about middle eastern culture because it is just so foreign to me. almost counter to how my mama raised me to be. Don't ever just tolerate things - change them to make them better for you attitude.