In a recent blog post I wrote three letters to some of my favorite characters and today I’m writing two more to my most cherished characters. I love them so dearly that I always go back to their stories more often than its needed. I hope you will these books and meet them too.
- To Eleanor (From Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman)
Hugs to you, dear Eleanor. I want you to know that you are loved, you are important and you are not a burden. The first time we met I didn’t feel like I will tolerate a quirky loner like you for so long. But I stayed because I believe everyone deserves a chance, to be heard and understood. I continued reading your story until I couldn’t let you alone. You are a finance clerk, so am I and I relate so much to your struggles to navigate social situations. You often make everyone around you uncomfortable with your tendency to say whatever is on your mind. I want you to know that it is okay. I also wrote this to let you know that I have a plant I called Polly just as yours. You care so much for Polly as a way of proving to yourself that you are capable of protecting another living thing. Your failure to protect your sister from the fire and from Mummy’s abuse induces feelings of shame and guilt within, and Marianne’s death makes you think it is a proof that you cannot be trusted to love other people because you will only harm and disappoint them. Keeping Polly alive enables you to maintain some semblance of self-worth in the face of your other lingering insecurities. I’d like to let you know that just because you feel worthless doesn’t mean you are worthless. I’m happy that you met Raymond and Dr. Temple. I’m thankful that they helped you come to terms with your past and also help you to understand and overcome the shame and guilt you carry with you as a result of your traumatic childhood. I hope I will be a Raymond in someone’s life.
- To Mariam (From A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini)
Dear Mariam, I tried to put myself in your shoes and couldn’t, even at once, gather the courage to endure all the pain you suffered. From witnessing your mother’s suicide, being forced into marriage at a young age to the everyday beatings you had to endure because of the miscarriages, that was all but a hint into what women pass through. I had a neighbor who suffered the same beatings from a drunk husband every night. When your life was put into words, I thought of her. And the way your heart was still kind to receive Laila and care for her, a young woman whose life has been destroyed by bombs, is unimaginable.
And reading how the country was destroyed and bombarded made me sad and yet I think if Kabul was our city, we wouldn’t just say “never again”. We would act like we don’t want this to happen ever. This means we don’t have the right or the time to sit on our hands and do nothing. It is not enough to watch our TV sets and shake our heads. If we don’t stand up and demand that these atrocities in Mulenge, Palestine, and everywhere else end immediately, the blood of those innocent civilians whose lives have been robbed from them will be on our hands. And the cries of those dying children and their grieving mothers will be ringing in our ears for time immemorial.
Dear Mariam, what happened to you and your country was sad and it’s happening elsewhere because we don’t learn from history. I hope everyone will read your story and understands what it means to be a girl, to be a mother, to be a refugee, to be a child soldier, and to love unconditionally.
- Read the review of “A thousand splendid suns” by Khaled Hosseini