I am now about 80 pages into this week’s fiction, ‘The Bookseller of Kabul’. It is truly fascinating. Obviously we have preconceived ideas about Afghanistan and the cultural issues there, but I am sorry to admit that my understanding ends there. I have no idea of the history, the culture, the war, the ethics, or were precisely the country is on a globe (eeek). I do intend to rectify some of these gaps in my geographical/historical knowledge!
Already in the novel it has dealt with the issues surrounding women. They have no rights. They are forced into whatever situation is deemed by their families and husband (sometimes one in the same thing) whether it be happy or not. I would like to generalise and suggest that maybe the latter is often the most prevalent, but who are we to assume?
But certain aspects do hit a traditionalist chord with me. No, I would never once wish that life on me; the dealing with multiple wives, being replaced by a younger model when the husband is bored of you; the forced arranged marriage with a man I may not have met; the wearing of the Burka; the constant humiliation of being a woman without rights or a voice; there is so much there that we would class as barbaric and seriously outdated. But I do like the idea of looking after your children and your man, when in a loving relationship obviously!
I can hear the feminists amongst you screaming now! Bare with me! I see myself as quite old fashioned, a traditionalist. I like the idea of making my home comfortable for those I love, making meals, trying to keep things tidy (I do fail on this point though), washing, baking etc. I love the look on someone’s face when I try and find them a thoughtful gift – just because I wanted to. If I had been a lady of the 50’s, I would have been the epitome of the perfect housewife!
I’m not saying this is all I want to be, not by a long shot. I like to think that I am an ambitious independent woman, but what is so wrong with wanting to look after those around me, wanting to make them happy? The first wife of Sultan, in ‘The Bookseller’ seems very happy with this arrangement, caring for her family, until the second wife comes along, but that’s another tale. She has a friendship with her husband. She would spend her days completing her chores so she could spend her evenings talking and laughing with her husband and family; quality time.
I like this picture as much as I like the traditional family picture of decades past in our own country. More and more of my female friends are turning to the traditionalist aspirations of the 20th Century. They are actively learning to sew, to cook, to knit, to bake. More and more of them are conforming to traditions and values, or at least wanting to conform, such as the marriage and the 2.4 children, in a decent sized house with a garden and good schools in the area. Is it because we are now at that age? Or is it true that more of us want something slightly more old fashioned and comfortable, secure?
Whichever it is, I want to be greedy. I want to maintain my ambitions, to get what I want career wise for life, but at the same time be the little home-bird, make the cakes, keep my man! All I ask in return is for the affection to be returned and happiness. I am a very lucky girl!