Sunday, 30 June 2013

It digs beneath my surface

It must have been crippling for my mother when she had to leave my sister and me behind.
Now and then I think about how it was for her and I can’t escape this truth: Mutilation. That’s how it would surely feel if someone told me I could no longer see Deaglan and Naveen every day, no longer inhale the nape of their necks whenever I needed to.

Mutilation with no hope of medical treatment.

Last night I stayed up late reading this and by the middle of page 45 I had to put it down. I cried noiselessly into my hands trying not to wake my family. It’s not surprising that his writing has this effect. I wept deeply in places when I read this and this. Khaled Hosseini’s storytelling digs beneath my surface everytime. I believe his words to ring true because essentially he tells the stories of my history too.
He tells stories that push me to the brink of gratitude and guilt.

Last night I surveyed my life; my fortunate, easy life. I wondered for the thousandth time since coming to this country how much different it could have been if I was still in Bangladesh. I cried more. I saw no logic. I looked over at Naveen who was asleep beside me, his long dark lashes settled fanlike on his sun-kissed brown cheeks. Earlier in the day, at Costco, we’d indulged him and walked up and down the vacuum aisle three times so he could savor each model, each make, the different colors and sizes. I thought too of Deaglan, who stopped playing long enough that morning to lightly touch my big toe and tell me that he loved my toenail polish. His sometimes version of “I love you.”
Last night I had to put the book down.

Those kinds of stories, the ones about real suffering and real sorrow weigh on me heavily. I find myself unable to process them for long stretches. It’s a weakness. Just like the way I am acutely aware that I have not yet ever written a letter to either of the girls we sponsor. I’ve never sent them the small gifts they are allowed to receive. Never sent them pictures of my boys or our life.
I justify it.

I justify it by remembering how it felt for me in the orphanage when other children would receive photo albums from their new parents in Canada or America. Photos of large lavish homes. Cars. Televisions. I remember how it felt to suddenly want things you didn’t even know existed. Want things you didn’t even know you needed.
Last night. I read the book and thought of these things. I thought about how it must have been for my mother.


  1. It tears my heart out too to think what a mother gives up when she makes the sacrifices your own mother did. How incredibly wrenching it must have been. Having seen that part of the world, I too wonder how I'm so blessed & lucky to be where I am, where I not only can care for my child(ren) but not lack for anything.

  2. It's important, I think, to really be aware that we have our own lives through good fortune and not because we deserve them more than other people who are in worse circumstances. It's one of the things that I find maddening about the whole prosperity theology side to religion - what sort of a god would bless some people with wealth, safety, good health, and so on and not others?

  3. Whenever I read about children suffering it either: a. makes me feel guilty that I escaped a shitty childhood but others didn't/don't b. makes me feel guilty that my shitty childhood pales in comparison. I always feel guilty and then I realize that it's because I have compassion and empathy and that is a good thing. It's a reminder to do something, anything.
    I barely made it through The Kite Runner without having a breakdown.

  4. His books move me to tears also.
    I think that sponsoring children is such a good thing to do... even if you are letting yourself feel ashamed because of the WAY you sponsor them. What you're doing is helping them.

  5. Oh, heartbreaking. I can't even imagine how I would feel without Noah. Yes, mutilation is a proper word...
    Hosseini's work gets at my core too. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read his latest...


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