Monday, July 1, 2013

And the Mountains Echoed - By Khaleed Hosseini

This one more book by Khaleed Hosseini is as beautiful as the previous two books. The plot does not have one protagonist but more than five. Some are related and some irrelevant. Some are your own reflections.

The book as usual deals with Afghanistan and human bonding. This time its between a sister and brother. They live in a small village and the father trades off the girl child saying "A hand must be cut off to save the hand". The brother - Abdullah remember's his sister - Pari all his life, but the pari does not event know a brother existed.

She is adopted by a rich family in Kabul where the adoptive father falls ill and mother abandons him and takes pari to France - Her motherland. This woman - Mrs.Wahdati, the adoptive Mother of Pari is like the most beautiful woman and a talented poet. She writes on love and lust at an young age and becomes the antagonistic child of Kabul bringing dishonor to her parents.

There is a cook cum driver at the Wahdati's called Nabi who is the maternal uncle of Pari. Nabi and Pari's father disconnect from each other after Pari's adoption by the Wahdatis. When Mr. Wahdati falls sick and Mrs. Wahdati desert him, Nabi is the one who looks after Wahdati. Mr.Wahdati falls in love with Nabi. He also wills his property to Nabi. In the mean time, Nabi would have found a diary in the Wahdati's cupboard written by Mrs. Wahdati. It says "Its all about you Nabi".

Nabi is shocked by this revelation as he was secretly in love with Neelima Wahdati. He always wished Neelima would know it. Nabi, after reading this, decides to find an appropriate substitute in the house to cook and drive and go join Neelima in Paris. But he fins no one and continue to walk Wahdati in the open fields of Kabul.

On a summer morning, Mr.Wahdati is dead and Nabi is left no where. At that time, the war is intensified in kabul and a lot of foreign help and NGOs are in Kabul to help the injured and the needy. One Markos - a plastic surgeon by profession lands at-Once Wahdati's and  now Nabi's big gate. Nabi offers to rent the house for free. Markos along with a nurse - Arma live with other volunteers in the house and Nabi lives in the small outhouse in the compound.

Nabi leaves a letter to Markos to be delivered to Pari. Markos finds Neelima Wahdati - the small time poet on the web and finds her daughter Pari. Pari now is a big grown up girl dating the man her mother once dated. When Neelima dies, Pari receives a letter from a news paper which interviewed Neelima and published her story. Pari understands that "she was a pain in the ass" for Neelima. Pari's mother was never happy for Pari.

Pari marries a honest and dedicated drama teacher from a local school. She will have three children. Pari goes on to study Phd in mathematics. Her children grow up and get married and have children. In all this time, Pari is not aware that she is missing her brother.

One day Markos contacts Pari on facebook and tells about the letter that Nabi has left. Pari arranges Markos to meet her half brother Iqbal at Shadbagh. She learns that there is an elder brother - Abdullah in America who is sending iqbal money every month.

Pari contacts Abdullah's daughter - her name too Pari and meets Abdullah. But Abdullah is unable to recall his childhood. He is suffering from some kind of cancer. Junior Pari, when she was young, used to hear bed time stories from her father Abdullah. He would tell her the story of his sister Pari and at the end, he would say that he is going to take away the bad dreams and put all the good dreams to Pari's sleep. Now Abdullah is sick and he is unable to recognize the real Pari.

The younger Pari finds friendship in older Pari and is set to meet pari's family in France. In the hotel room, both of them are sleeping and younger Pari wakes up and tells a fairy tale to the older Pari that she and her brother were young again, they are lying on the grass on the mountains in the mid afternoon underneath the cool shelter of a tree - that she can see her brother's face, but not the whole of it as she is too near to the face.

Thats the end of the book. In between there are irrelevant descriptions of Markos mother, supposedly sister,  Pari's natural mother's childhood, her twin sister, some two young boys interested in property in Kabul, etc.

The book is a fine story teller. At times, one would feel frustrated - because of a lot of abandoning women, deserting, cheating etc. It surely makes you feel depressed and pensive.

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