Thoughts on “I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced” (N. Ali & D. Minoui)

image from mobipocket.com

Nujood Ali is a simple girl enjoying her childhood in one of the villages in Yemen. She was not really sure of her real age because in the countryside, people do not bother with officially registering their children. Her mother deduced that she is 10 but she may be either 8 or 9. Like any other girl, Nujood loves to play and wants to go to school. However, her childhood came to an end when her father arranged for her to be married to a man thrice her age. Forced to stop schooling (she was just starting her second year) and uprooted from her family, she was taken by her husband to an isolated village where she experienced abuse – raped by her husband and physically abused by her mother-in-law.   When Nujood cannot endure much longer, she escaped and went directly to the courthouse and bravely asked the judge for a divorce. The process was a terrible ordeal for Nujood but she was able to finally obtain her freedom, with the help of local advocates.

The book is an autobiography written by Nujood and translated by Delphine Minoui. She recounts her experiences in a simple and direct manner, which makes one pause and remember that it is indeed a child narrating her story. I find such simplicity and directness heart wrenching for it clearly shows Nujood’s vulnerability and innocence. But what’s more admirable and striking with this slip of a girl is her courage while going through an almost insurmountable task. She had the courage to break free from Yemen’s age-old tradition of early-forced-arranged marriages and to challenge such practice, which is still prevalent until today. Her story and her triumph paved the way for child-brides who are in similar circumstances to fight for their rights and even demand their freedom. Furthermore, she was named a “Glamour Woman of the Year in 2008” alongside Hillary Clinton, Nicole Kidman and Condoleeza Rice.

Reading this book made me remember a book entitled, A Thousand Splendid Suns, which also delves in child-brides and their plight, many of whom are in abusive relationships. Nujood’s story gave a concrete “face” to those countless and faceless girls-women.

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US Trip, Day 22-23: Miscellany

For the past two days, I’ve been doing different things. Shopping, TV marathon and of course, reading. We shopped for some stuff needed in the house and some of the stuff that I will be bringing home in the Philippines. Furthermore, I have watched countless of episodes of CSI (Vegas, New York and Miami), Law and Order (Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent), and NCIS. And to add: Criminal Minds! I just love this team.  Moreover, I was introduced to some programs dealing with the paranormal, such as Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, and Paranormal Kids. I find these shows really interesting.

When I’m not busy watching the television, I’d be reading. I started reading, “I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.” The plot has similarities with “A Thousand and Splendid Suns” which dwells about girls being forced to marry at  an early age. However, Nujood’s story is way different from the heroines in the latter book. I will be writing my thoughts about the book when I finish it.

US Trip, Day 21: Books on Women

I am so happy! My sister’s mother-in-law gave me 4 books on women. It turns out that she loves reading and collects books on the said topic. I just love her and I am so grateful that she gave me four interesting books. I cannot wait to read all of them!

I cannot wait for September!

I cannot wait for September! There are so many reasons why I am so looking forward to September.

First, I am going on a much-needed vacation. To say that it is an overseas trip for month is an added bonus. I plan to write a sort of a travel blog when I’m there and will update you on my journeys and experiences, hopefully, everyday.

Second, since I will be on vacation, I will now have time to read. Yay! I recently acquired three Frank McCourt books through the thoughtfulness of a student. He knew that I will have more time to reflect during this period and so he gifted me with books which will accompany me in what he calls, “a possible new journey.”

Books by Frank McCourt given to me by a student

Third, I have reason to hope that September will usher in new opportunities, possibilities, experiences and friendships.

Lastly, I have good and special friends who will be celebrating their special days. I am so grateful for your coming into my life!

Study time!

The months of May until August are devoted to studying. I have to read several books in Counseling, Guidance, Group Processes, Assessment/Tests, and anything related to Guidance and Counseling.

I hope to study well and hard.

Goodbye to reading-for-pleasure. At least for now. But I will still continue to blog about anything and everything under the sun. Just no blog entries about books. Or…let’s just wait and see. 😉

Thoughts on “A Love In The Time of Cholera” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

“A Love in the Time of Cholera” is a novel written by Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It revolves around Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza, who in their youth, fell in love but did not end up together. Fermina marries Juvenal Urbino, a doctor, whom she thinks can offer her stability and love. On the other hand, Florentino vows to wait for the right time to reiterate his undying love to his beloved.

Fifty-one years, nine months, and four days.

This caught my attention when I was browsing the book’s cover. This is how long Florentino waited to express his feelings for Fermina and pursue her again.  In the course of this half-a-century time frame, Fermina lived her married life with all its ups and downs even though for most people, the marriage appeared to be perfect. Florentino, on the other hand, rises up in his business career but has involved himself in 622 affairs. Among these many trysts, there had been possible genuine loves as well. After the death of Fermina’s husband, Florentino seizes the chance and relentlessly laid siege to her heart.

image from amazon.com

Fifty-one years, nine months, and four days.

That’s an awfully long time to wait for someone you love, isn’t it? Honestly, I have mixed feelings and thoughts about this novel. Let me start with the not-so-good.

First, I was bordering on admiration and exasperation with Florentino’s obsession with Fermina. Imagine, pining for her for more than fifty years while she goes on with her life. Furthermore, at some point in the book, I felt and questioned whether Florentino was really in love or that he was just adamant or obsessed with her because he cannot have her.  His love is more of a disease which consumed him. At this juncture, Marquez was successful in depicting love as a sickness or disease, which affected Florentino physically and emotionally. Second, there were times that I got angry with Florentino because of how he treated women. Typical male! Of course, it takes two to tango and most of his partners were consenting adults. But I cannot shake off my irritation most especially when he discards women just like one sheds off one’s clothes. Case in point, the maid whom he assaults, impregnates and then asks some man to marry the girl to hide what happened. And let’s not forget America Vicuna who was entrusted by her parents to him as his ward but whom he seduces and eventually engages a relationship with. America sunk into depression, which also lead to her suicide when she finally learned that the affair was over.

Of course, Florentino is not the only womanizer in the novel. There’s his father and Juvenal too. But I will stop at this

image from cinelatinotrieste.org

point because I think I have made my feelings clear enough as regards to womanizers.

On the other hand, what I really liked about this book is how it also revolved on Fermina Daza. At first, when she rejected Florentino, I was mad at her. But when she realized the reason why she rejected him, I saw the wisdom behind it. I also came to like her – a woman who made choices in her life and despite all that has happened to her, she faced it all bravely and gracefully.

Although I have some complaints about the book, Gabriel Garcia Marquez again scored a good one in this novel. I can understand why a lot of people were blown away by this tale. There is something romantic about a man who waited for fifty-one years, nine months, and four days to be able to reiterate his feelings to his true love. Moreover, the idea of having a second chance at love is so appealing. However, it is not only a love story, it also dwells on themes such as growing old and death.  It makes one reflect on humanity and mortality.

Thoughts on “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

image from mshogue.com

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a saga about the seven generations of the Buendia family and the rise and fall of the town of Macondo, which the family patriarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia founded.

I never thought that I could finish this novel in such short a time. I feared that it would take me at least two weeks or even longer to finish it because I made several attempts on reading the first few lines but I never got past the entire first page.

Now I understand how for some people, it took them longer to read this novel. I could think of a few reasons. First, there are a good number of parts where the narrative and descriptions of events, things, places or personalities would be lengthy. Mind you, it’s not at all boring. But the reader has to get used to Marquez’ style of storytelling. It transports the reader into the world that the author has created. For instance, I really felt the tranquility and idleness of the town at some point that I felt that my reading adapted a slowness in its pace. However, there were also times that I would read on and on and couldn’t put the book down when there is a build-up of events. Personally, I think that the way Marquez engages the reader is just brilliant.

Second, the reader just has to get used to the author’s use of “magical realism, a style of writing where the supernatural is presented as part of ordinary/everyday life, and the ordinary as supernatural. This is also one of the major themes of the novel. The supernatural or extraordinary events are well incorporated in everyday life that it ceases to be supernatural. For instance, the visitation of ghosts and the levitation and ascension of Remedios the Beauty are treated as normal occurrences. The author maintained a tone which is the same from the beginning till the end, which blended the mundane and extraordinary. The reader would then pause and be taken aback and question the realities of such phenomena.

image from cinelatinotrieste.org

Third, the time element can be confusing because there is a matter of swinging back and forth from the past to the future and vice versa through the use of flashbacks and leaping to future events. Again, the reader has to get used to this scheme; as if time is boundless, which I guess in another theme of this novel. However, what struck me is the circular and repetitive history of the Buendia family, which is further manifested in the replication of names and characteristics. For instance, almost all Jose Arcadios possess physical strength and inquisitive dispositions while almost all the Aurelianos possess lean physiques and quiet dispositions. I had to refer to the family tree many times so that I won’t be lost in the family’s history. I also remembered muttering to myself, “Can’t they think of other names to give to the children? It’s getting downright confusing!”

Another recurring theme in the novel is the tendency of the Buendia family to commit incest. The first to commit is the family patriarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia, when he married his first cousin, Ursula. All throughout the generations, the tendency and possibility was always there. Well, until it comes to fruition in the person of Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano Babilonia. I’m not so sure how readers then react to incest.

Lastly, solitude is another theme of the novel. The solitude of the town of Macondo located at the remote jungles of the forest; the solitude of the Buendia family apart from the townspeople; and yes, even the individual family members are prone to have their own solitary dispositions too. I’m not sure though for what purpose – escape? or just plain egoism?

I’ve written some factors why some readers find the novel difficult or why it took them longer to finish. But I would also like to emphasize that these are also the reasons why there are readers who find this novel interesting. I admit that reading the book was challenging and intimidating. But once I got used to the writer’s style, I was drawn into the world of the Buendia’s and the life at Macondo.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is definitely one of the literary geniuses. He is a powerful storyteller! Despite the seriousness of his tone, he made me laugh several times while reading the book. I am looking forward to read his other works.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez Month

image from cinelatinotrieste.org

May is going to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez month. I have lined-up 2 books written by the above-mentioned author as my “books-to-read” for May.

image from mshogue.com

I had the books since 2008. I bought them while on a shopping frenzy during an annual sale in a

image from amazon.com

known bookstore outlet. As I am guilty of buying tons of books and leaving them on the shelf, it took me about 2 years to finally pick them up. I plan to read them; I just hope that I would be able to finish by the end of the month.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a rather thick book. I’m actually intimidated by it. But I will take this as a challenge. A Love in the Time of Cholera has been used in the movie “Serendipity.” I have heard good reviews and I want to finally see for my self why both have been bestsellers.

Thoughts on “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (Khaled Hosseini)

If Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” blew me away, his second novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” devastated me. It left me reeling, angry and weeping while reading it and yes, long after finishing it. Hosseini has definitely outdone himself in this one.

I’m afraid that this entry is more emotional and heartfelt than my thoughts/reflections on “The Kite Runner,” as I cannot help but be affected for the novel delves into the lives of women and their life struggles. Anything related to women’s plight is something I am passionate about.

The story focuses on the tumultuous lives of two women and how their lives become intertwined. The setting is still Afghanistan and takes place in the last thirty-three years of the country’s war-torn and violent history. The novel is divided in four parts: the first on Mariam, the second on Laila, the third switches back and forth to Mariam and Laila with each chapter, and the fourth and last ends with Laila. Hosseini has woven a tapestry of a masterpiece for he has depicted the lives of the women, who were born in different circumstances but have the same problems, in a haunting, powerful and realistic manner.

image from socialistworker.co.uk

Why? It is so… because the stories of Mariam and Laila, though fictional, reflect the lives of thousands of Afghani women. No. Let me correct that. I would say, the novel reflects the lives of women all over the world, who have suffered on the basis of their gender. Utterly striking in the book is how Afghani women were discriminated against because of their gender – from the practice of forced or arranged marriages with child brides not later than 16 years old; violence against women; absence of social, political and legal mechanisms for protection of women; restricted access to education, health care facilities and employment; the importance of a son compared to a daughter in the family, and so on. Such views and practices are deeply rooted in the old Afghani tradition and the traditional patriarchal gender order. Nana’s words (Mariam’s mother) would resonate throughout, “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.”

image from news.yahoo.com

Another issue that the book tackles is violence. Violence, in the novel, takes on two forms. On the personal or the intimate level is the violence against women and on the communal or national level is the war and violence experienced throughout the country. Violence against women was manifested in several levels – physical, emotional/mental/psychological, verbal, economic and sexual. It’s all there. Name it, you got it. On the other hand, war or violence experienced by Afghanistan as a nation and as a people also zeroes in on its devastating effects on the most affected population – children, elderly and the women. Yes! Even war has a gender issue. (Alright, enough of my ranting about gender and women issues; it’s just that one of my advocacies is about stopping violence against women and my research involves domestic violence and abused women. I’m going back to the book now, :D)

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a poignant tale of love in different forms, be it romantic, familial, love for country and for God. It also showcases how remarkable the human spirit, through Mariam and Laila, can become. How despite all the tribulations and odds, these women survived, endured and carried on. It is now included in my favorites list; truly unforgettable and moving!