Author Archive : Baria

The Essential Rumi

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The Essential Rumi Book Cover

Coming across the phenomenal words and verses of one of the greatest spiritual poets to ever live, is the ultimate dream for any poetry enthusiast. Coleman Barks’ translation of the mesmerizing works of the renowned 13th century poet Jelaluddin Rumi, in “The Essential Rumi” would surely do the part in making even the most uninterested person fall in love with Rumi’s poetry.

“The Essential Rumi” is an incredible collection of some of Rumi’s most amazing poems about love, soul’s yearnings, divinity, Sufism, spirituality and the bond of friendship with The One. Coleman has managed to make the world and all those who read his books fall in love with Rumi and the one whom he loved, by translating his soulful words in Persian to English, while preserving the beauty, and flow of spirituality that Rumi’s poetry embodies. It would be sufficing to say that most of Rumi’s poetry, composed of quatrains, odes, and letters within poems was based on his unconditional and mysterious love for the wandering dervish of Tabriz, Shams, whose desire and quest of soulful companionship led him to Rumi’s hometown, Konya. It was there where the two met and fell in love, but theirs is a unique story of love and friendship that cannot possibly be fathomed or described within words. Shams of Tabriz, a mere, poor, dervish of no repute managed to transform the renowned and respected religious scholar of Konya, Rumi, into a mystical artist and poet. After a lifelong, one-of-its-kind friendship, that was not without its social and religious controversies and ramifications, Shams’ murder and the tragic end to their tale inevitably drove Rumi to a state of agony, hysteria and disbelief until he realized that theirs was the bond that was eternal and divine. Following this realization, Rumi embarked upon a path to immortalize Shams’ words, and his wisdom through his poems. Till his death, Rumi never stopped writing poems in ode to Shams; his poetry became as eternal as his love for him, and erased from existence the very definitions of love, ecstasy, emptiness, the divine truth and the search for God, giving them a whole new meaning and perspective that very few, lucky souls could understand.

Infatuated by Rumi’s words, Coleman has managed to preserve his poems’ essence and do justice to his remarkable poetry in “The Essential Rumi”, while somehow making it easier to unveil the mystery that is Rumi’s school of thought and words, in the best way possible. Before reading the book, I was entirely convinced that I would never be able to comprehend what Rumi conveys through his words, but reading some of his most beautiful poems in this book has at least paved the way for me. I am sure for those who truly are interested in reading and understanding Rumi’s words, Coleman Barks’ translations would make the process a whole lot easier.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

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A Thousand Splendid Suns Cover“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” How can one not possible fall in love with Khaled Hosseini’s words that depict his sheer love for his homeland, Afghanistan in all of the three amazing novels he has written so far. Like his best-selling masterpiece “A Kite Runner”, that I’ll never get tired of reading, his second novel A Thousand Splendid Suns” did not cease to amaze me either. No one portrays the rich culture, customs, beauty, misfortunes and tragedy that surrounds the exotic country of Afghanistan than Khaled Hosseini himself.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is… well, splendid, really. Laced with the intricately detailed story of two tough Afghan Women, born and raised in radically different walks of life in Kabul, this novel delicately sheds light on the issue that has pertained in the war-torn country of Afghanistan since too long; that of oppression of women and terrorism. Hosseini truly does justice in writing about the social injustices that took root in the Afghan culture, even before war came, all the while revealing all that’s rich, beautiful and unique, associated with his motherland.

The novel plot’s follow the lives of Mariam and Laila; the former who was born an illegitimate child to a wealthy businessman, who grew up in the hopes of getting accepted by the society, witnessed her mother’s suicide on her birthday, got married to a vicious man thirty years older than him and suffered domestic abuse that left her hopeless. Laila, on the other hand is born in a nearly-perfect family, if there ever was one when war started taking its toll on the people of Afghanistan. Sharing her father’s love for books and education, her world revolved around going to school, studying, dreaming but most of all spending time with her childhood best friend ‘Tariq’, who to no one’s surprise, really, turned out to be the love of her life. If there is one aspect common in Hosseini’s novels is that life always changes in the most drastic way possible for the main characters. In this case, it was when the Afghan Mujahedeen factions turned against each other, civil war broke out, claiming the lives of Laila’s parents and brothers, leaving her a helpless orphan and as ‘fate’ or ‘kismet’ would have it, she ends up getting married, in her teens to, guess whose husband? Why of course, Mariam’s husband ‘Rasheed’! To say that the extensive plot has way more twists and climaxes that can be anticipated, would be an understatement of its own but the story as whole is heartbreakingly beautiful indeed.

Unveiling the depths of terror and the Taliban’s atrocities in Afghanistan, especially on women, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” is all about the main characters’ struggle to seek their identities and rights in a male-dominated and terror-stricken society, all the while testing their own strengths and courage for the sake of their children and the hope of a better life. For all those, who can’t wait to divulge in a compelling, soul-stirring novel (and shed some tears along the way too), this one would definitely pass for a top recommendation, if not a must-read.