As I became enmeshed with my favorite text, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, I found companionship with the character of Mariam because we shared more than just the same culture; I actually related strongly to her feelings of being out of place in her own world. The following quotation culminates my intellectual experience that caused me to bond so deeply with the novel, as it is not an example of an event that changed my life; rather, the actual moment | read the quotation represents the way I began to view the world.
“She understood then what Nana meant, that a harami was an unwanted thing: that she, Mariam, was an illegitimate person who would never have legitimate claim to the things other people had, things such as love, family, home, acceptance.”
My heart breaks for anyone who feels like a harami, an unwanted thing. I once felt this way myself before reading the text. This feeling had nothing to do with popularity, academics or family tensions.
I have always had a strong grasp on all three. But I always felt something was missing and that I did not particularly fit into a mainstream. Television shows kick off contestants based on votes, not talent. Movies always leave the last frame for the muscular hero. Contemporary songwriters chastise the weak. Where does someone who does not fit into that one spectacular category go? Is he or she just another harami?
My background is very unique in that half of my heritage is Azerbaijani.
When I mention this to others, I immediatel about my culture being war-torn. Thave to admit that I don’t know exactly what they mean by that term. Yes, there was war: constantly, in fact. My father still tells stories of having to flee persecution. But we are not torn. In fact, we are closer than ever, not only to our families but to our neighbors, for we know the value of love and acceptance. So who is torn? The rhetoric I hear from politicians about refugees and outcasts is only growing, not dissipating. And here I was, wondering if I had lost my legitimate claim to anything before I was even born.
After I read this cathartic quotation and finished the novel, I no longer felt like a harami because I knew there were others out there. This realization made me understand that we are all inter-connected with those we do not even know. Family is not just a bloodline or a series of branches connected to one tree. People only look at the branches, but the roots are branches, too. Those roots connect without letting us see to whom we are linked. In that sense, I am not alone. And it is with this awareness that I founded my own legitimacy.
Jewish Azerbaijanis speak the obsolete and enigmatic language of Aramaic. Legends of the language vary from connections to sacred texts to origins beyond ancient times. Like the community, the language is scarce and nearly extinct, but it is a language that is just as proficient and comprehensive as any other. I, though not the superhero standing tall at the end of the film, am no less worthy. Superheroes can climb trees; they can even scale buildings and mountains. But I have something that will never let me fall: a firm grasp of my roots.