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Pages and Files
Art of Racing in the Rain
Book of Lost Things
Chant to Soothe
Curious Incident 1
Curious Incident 2
Cutting for Stone
Devil in the White City
For the Win
Half a Life
The Help 2
In Cold Blood
Koko Be Good
Life of Pi 1
Life of Pi 2
Lost Symbol 2
Miracle of St. A's
Other Wes Moore
Pride & Prejudice
Red & Me
Thousand Splendid Suns
Thousand Splendid Suns 2
Town Called Alice
Where Men Win Glory
Year of Living Biblically
Thousand Splendid Suns 2
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Book Talk Agenda:
Overall opinion on book?
Favorite part/theme of the book?
Create list of major characters and their roles in the story
Compare and Contrast:
Compare and contrast Mariam with her mother
Compare and contrast Mariam and Fariba as mothers of Laila
Compare and Contrast Rasheed and Jalil
Which character did you connect with the most?
Which character did you connect with the least?
The resurrection theme is common in works of literature. How does the theme contribute to the story?
What passage did you find the hardest to read and why?
What did the book make you think of your own life?
What passage had the greatest impact on you?
Which part or passage made you the most angry?
What do you think was the worst thing Rasheed did to either Mariam or Laila?/What did you find the most shocking?
What is your favorite happy passage?
Have one person in the group choose a meaningful passage. Discuss the passage: Why is it important? What issues does it bring to your attention? The other group members should be thinking of another passage that relates to the first. Continue the discussion until everyone has had their thoughts shared. If the topic becomes tiresome feel free to choose a new passage with new things to discuss.
End of Discussion Whip:
Lasting Memory of the book?
Location: Mr. Biskup's Room
Creative Writing Emma Pidden
...And My Heart Weeps
Hurt, sad, lost, confused
no one to turn to
no one for comfort
nothing is visible
beneath this veil
I’m shaking, I am so afraid
I have never even seen his face
when I have to say “yes”
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
I am so afraid
the pause is so long
that silence is the loudest noise
I have ever heard
but then worst of all
his face is under the veil next
to mine in the mirror
in his eyes I can see the
bleak nothingness of my life
that stands before me
and my heart weeps
The Growing Secret
All people I have ever held close,
everyone important to me
is dead. Gone.
in this house of strangers I am so alone.
So lost. Never have I felt this desperation,
I can’t leave.
I can’t run away,
not with my secret growing inside of me.
I have to think of something quick to keep us both alive
The woman comes to the door and tells me what He wants
I know with out a doubt this is my one chance
so although I realize my life is over
I have to say yes
Who’s that man?
“Who’s that man?” Zalmai’s little voice piped in my ear
I turn to the door of my house
and my heart stops
I stare blinking
making sure it really was him
that he really was there
blink, blink still there
without thinking I am running
right for him
all I am feeling is
I cannot remember being this fulfilled
he is alive, he’s alive, he’s alive
I ran into his arms and it isn’t until I pull away that the worry, fear and confusion sets in.
All I can do is ask myself...
Whats going to happen now?
I can’t stand it anymore
watching him stand over her
and beat her
but what to do
I can’t stop him
spluttering sounds are coming from her mouth
I glance back to see his hands on her throat...is he really going to kill her?
I am going crazy now
but I don’t care
I run outside to the garden shed
grab the big metal shovel
and race back inside
I grip the shovel tight in my hands
pull it back and swing
hitting him on the head
it’s not very hard but hard enough
for him to loosen his grip and fall off of her
I pull shovel back again
and this time I swing
with all the force I can manage
It hits his head and I hear a crack
I watch him fall over and hit the floor
Mother, daughter, sister, friend
I thought I would detest her
but she ends up being my single sanity
she helps with the housework
and we sit and drink three cups of chai in the
for the first time since I can remember I am
looking forward to the day
waiting on pins and needles for Laila
and Aziza to come down the stairs
to be able to hold Aziza
bounce her and see her baby smile
and Laila smiles
we sit and talk and drink the tea
we are like a family
and we are happy
Creative Writing Jackson Hall
*Ameera is a younger Nana before Mariam was born.
Ameera could feel the baby in her body. It was months ago but Ameera still remembered the morning that she made her decision.
The morning was a perfect one, and the beauty of the gardens surrounding Jalil’s mansion was exaggerated by a brilliant sunrise which bathed the flowers in an ethereal light. She had gotten up early that morning for no particular reason but decided to lay in bed a little longer to watch the sunrise from the window of the servants house. Unfortunately her pleasant state would soon be interrupted by the dreadful work which came each morning after sunrise. Ameera knew while looking out of the window that in a short time her regular life would start again and she would have to stop her lazy dreaming. Unlike Jalil’s wives, Ameera couldn’t do whatever she wanted all day long. She hadn’t thought about it much, but this morning the beauty of the sunrise struck a chord in her heart. It was then Ameera realized the unfairness of her life compared with the lives of Jalil’s wives. It was that morning she made a decision that would forever change her life. She realized it would be nearly impossible for her to become an equal of Jalil’s wives, but she thought that maybe, just maybe she could have a baby. A baby with her as the mother and Jalil as father. Ameera knew she would surely be shunned for behavior like this. At the same time she felt there was a faint glimmer of hope for the baby to become an equal. And one day the baby would grow up to be just as important as one of Jalil’s wives. It was that morning Ameera made the ultimate sacrifice so her child might be destined to have a better life than the one Ameera had lived.
Ameera felt the baby kick and a smile crossed her face. Mariam, the name she had given the baby which was also the name of one of Jalil’s wives, was alive and well in her belly. Ameera felt a sense of happiness that spread throughout her body, but the happiness didn’t last long as there was a knock on the servant’s house. Ameera got up to answer it and she was surprised to find it was Jalil, her master and the father of her child. Jalil had a stern look on his face and five minutes later after Jalil left Ameera didn’t feel that same sense of happiness she had five minutes earlier. Instead her happiness was replaced with despair as she realized she was being told to leave her job and never come back. The dreams for Mariam were crushed and Ameera would never be the same since.
Tariq and Laila were becoming used to their new life together. Zalmai had become comfortable calling Tariq Father, something that had worried Laila since Tariq’s arrival. Everyone seemed to be thrilled with the newfound peace that filled their home; No more anger filled beatings from Rasheed, no more constant verbal abuse, but for some reason, Laila could not become truly happy. The pain of leaving Mariam with an uncertain fate had begun to take a toll on her. She, much like her own mother, rarely left her room. Laila constantly found herself sobbing over memories of Mariam, the pain only seeming to get worse with each reminder of her kindness. Tariq knew something had to be done, for the sake of their newly formed family. He came to her room after Zalmai and Aziza were asleep and told her his idea. Tariq’s plan was to move the family back to Kabul, the place that held so much burden over the whole family, and start a new life there. With much reluctance from the children, and outright refusal from Laila, Tariq packed the small number of possessions to their name and left for Kabul.
The taxi stopped and Laila could not comprehend the sight in front of her. A house not worth a passing glance with a toolshed out front. Zalmai sprang out of the taxi before Laila had a chance to comprehend the whole startling situation she found herself in. The only thing that separated Laila and Aziza from a lifetime of pain and sadness was a rickety old fence and overgrown grass. They were back home.
Her brain was not functioning in the slightest as Laila opened the taxis door and let it fall open. She couldn’t control her legs as they swung to the ground, nor as they started to push her closer and closer to the familiar fence. Laila’s motions felt so methodical as she opened the weathered latch on the fence. Tariq was holding Zalmai, both already standing beside Rasheed’s old door, waiting for Laila. Moving with the pain of a woman three times her age, Laila slowly shuffled to the door. Aziza took her close as Tariq pushed the door open. Alone in the kitchen sat Mariam, with her a freshly brewed pot of tea, and five filled cups.
I Am Alive
(In Response to Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns)
As I stood on her doorstep, I allowed myself a moment to reflect on what had been. As my neighbor, and childhood friend, Laila had been the most important person in my life. While my parents always encouraged this friendship, our surrounding adults doubted the innocence of our relationship. Yet, at such a young age, I was oblivious to the way Laila and I were frowned on. Our neighbors watched from their windows as we walked shamelessly hand in hand around the block. Their whispering suspicions followed us wherever we went. I remember a specific instance that was gossiped about for weeks.
When we were both nine-years old, I went to visit my uncle in Ghazni for 13 days. Laila and I missed each other terribly, and when I came home we spent hours filling one another in on our day to day happenings. She told me about school, and the trouble that she was having with her mother. However, Laila also, rather reluctantly, described an incident in the past week when some of the neighborhood boys sprayed her with urine from plastic water-guns. I watched her face harden, and her eyes drop in shame. Anger built from my stomach up, until my face was scarlet and I was stomping out of the room. I instinctively found and confronted these boys, threatening them with my prosthestic leg. I waved it around and above my head like a madman, until I could see the fear in their eyes diminish to pure horror.
In the late 1980s, Afghanistan began to unravel. We all shared a common fear that one day the fighting would hit our neighborhood. The tension rose as families began to slowly move out of the neighborhood. One day, I was forced to tell Laila that I was leaving too.
“It’s my father. His heart can’t take it anymore, all this fighting and killing” (181).
“Where are you going? To visit your uncle again?”
“No, I am going to visit nowhere. I am leaving for good.” I watched her eyes drop as she became blind with shock and tears. She buried her hands in her face, and held her breath until she could not any longer. I took her in my arms and held her as her body shock in stinging sobs. I knew then, as I had always known, that she loved me too.
Back on the doorstep, I forced myself back into reality, and reached for the door knocker. As I pulled it back and dropped it against the solid wooden frame, the collision made an impossibly loud and lasting echo.
I stood there, hoping she would answer. I did not know what I would do if it was her husband, or her husband’s wife. How would I introduce myself? Would the ylet me in?
I heard footsteps pattering on the floor, coming closer. They stopped.
“Oh,” she whispered, as the door swung open. She covered her lips with her hand, as if embarrassed that the words had escaped from her mouth.
I made no move to approach her, as she lightly dropped her arm to her side, never averting her eyes from my gaze. She was covered everywhere but her face and hands. The cream colored cloth made the skin of her face look dark and worn. The flesh under her eyes and on her forehead sagged from late night worry, and sleeplessness. Her cheeks were red and rudy, like worked-on leather. I barely recognized her. I saw the lips that I had kissed, and the crooked teeth that made those smiles that made me go a little weak. She wasn’t smiling now, on the doorstep. Yet, her light blue eyes were shining, and when I saw the tiny arches in her eyebrows rise in apparent excitement, I knew she was still mine.
“What are you doing here, Tariq? I thought you were dead. They told me that you were dead. I don’t understand. How... how are you here?” Her face flushed as her words fell out into a long silence.
“I am alive. I am here for you.”
She reached out her hand to me, and I saw the bruises on her fingers.
“I will not leave you again,” I pledged.
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