Every time I read book, it seems that my internal chemistry has been altered. I feel different, as if my stomach is no longer where it should be, my knees feel wobbly, my limbs go wonky and my mind refuses to come back to reality.
It is this, out of this world feeling, that makes me read more.
I have read many, and loved many, and my conscience wouldn’t sit at ease if I didn’t recall them all.
However, as I am, in my current self, on this day, writing this piece, there is one book which keeps echoing through my sub-conscience.
And that is
“And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini.
There is no one particular reason why I chose this, but a few different ones, which I will try to spell out.
I have travelled all my life.
Every two or three years, a family of four would humbly pack up their entire universe and set course to some place new.
There was never any permanence in our life. Life has been a beautiful unsettling chaos.
The country of Afghanistan has also been craving some stability, some permanence. Afghanistan and I are both vagabonds, looking for our roots, trying to establish ourselves, while undergoing constant turmoil.
Set within the heart of Afghanistan, this book narrates stories which are heart wrenching, painful, complex and human. Each tale involves a character in the process of soul searching, to understand who he is, and who he is not.
The narrative depicts the different bonds that can exist between sibblings.
I am the eldest child in my immediate family. Even before I could identify myself as an individual, I was an elder sister, to three adorable sibblings.
If one were to ask me, who I was,
I am “Didda” before anything else.
It is Abdulla and Pari’s story that resonates the most with me. Destiny plays her cruel hand, and two sibblings get lost in this big wide world.
The brother keeps souvenirs of his long lost sister with him all his life, hoping to one day meet her. While Pari continues to feel conflicted about who she is and where she has come from. She has nothing but a hunch that someone had existed, a mere shadow from her past?
Years later when they finally are re united, a twist of fate still wrecks them.
What is left is a box of souvenirs, that Abdulla cherished all these years, and that Pari doesn’t remember why.
Like Pari, my little brother also had the habbit of collecting feathers.
Through years of scavenging, trespassing neighbour’s properties, he managed to amass a collection any bird enthusiast would be proud of.
But then time passed, he grew up, and a passion got relegated to a mere childhood hobby.
Since I have read this book, I have been collecting the rarest, and finest feathers to gift my brother on his 18th birthday, as my contribution for his long forgotten passion.
As an elder sibbling, I feel Abdullah’s anguish. Unlike him, I can watch my sibblings grow and evolve into unique individuals with flaws and attributes. Like a catterpillar transforms into a butterfly; I see them fall, and rise again. At every fall I rush at their aid, and have to painfully stop myself. For how will they learn to fly and soar if they don’t taste mud and blood.
As time goes by, Abdullah and I reminiscence about what their life is and will be like, do they need us anymore? Do they remember?
They are growing up, and alas it seems that we are growing apart. The world is too wide for an elder sibbling’s heart to be at peace.
These three souls are my entire universe. Whatever I am, whatever I have done is because of them. And I would be nothing without them. Just like Abdullah could never be the same again