I just finished the book “A Fort of Nine Towers”.
This is the story of a young man and his family living in Kabul, Afghanistan from the time the Russians were leaving Afghanistan to the present day.
“I have long carried this load of griefs in the cage of my heart. Now I have given them to you. I hope you are strong enough to hold them.” Qais Akbar Omar
Wow. A load of griefs is an understatement! This tale of life in Afghanistan written by one who lived through it all and triumphed is riveting. I am truly inspired by the positivity and love of life that comes through on every page in the face of mind boggling hardships this family endured.
I think each person as they go through life believes that they face hardship and struggle. I am certain we all do. Having said that, it is BEYOND humbling to read about the lives of people living in this same world, at the same time and being witness to the HORRENDOUS life circumstances that they endure. I cannot comprehend being imprisoned for the length of my hair, or bitten by a man to extort money from my father.
I lived as a child in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the throes of civil war. People in our community were imprisoned for having wagon wheels in their gardens (wagon wheels were seen as a symbol of colonialism). My father and uncle were imprisoned as they came into town on a rugby bus back from a tour. They allegedly offended members of the notorious fifth brigade. (The North Korean-trained 5th brigade was formed in 1981 and was used in genocidal operations against Ndebele-ethnic Mugabe opponents in Matabeleland). In school we had drills – not fire drills – but ambush drills. At the time I thought it was a “normal” part of growing up. I realize now more fully how much I was protected from many of the realities of the horrors of that war by my family. I only know the “stories” of my father being imprisoned himself – stories he told of making dice out of melting tar on the ground outside and playing dice games with his fellow cell mates. My father does not speak of the war even when asked. This book made me realize some of the emotional hardships my parents and grandparents must have faced and protected me from.
Fast forward to 2013. I am a gay, married female living in Canada and I enjoy SO MANY freedoms. I drive a my own car to my job each day from a house I own with my partner. I shop in stores fully stocked with food and anything else I may need, and walk around outside my home unaccompanied by the men in my family. I have been educated without opposition and have access to medical and dental facilities.
SO much of my life experience is incomparable to that of Mr.Omar’s, and still I felt deeply connected to him. I have the same love for my family and love for the world in which I live. At my core I feel the same love and loss that I felt from Mr. Omar. I am grateful that I was able to “carry this load of griefs” for just the two days it took me to read this story.
I laughed and I cried through it all.
Thank you Mr. Omar for this wonderful, wonderful book which I will read again and again and recommend to everyone.
I give this book five stars.