BY Harsimran Kaur  ON dec 23 , 2021  IN BOOK REVIEWS, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

Kabul, a land plagued by male chauvinism, oppression of women repugnant enough to make the heart bleed, the long streets incarnadined by numerous people succumbing to multifarious Taliban bomb attacks and a religious fervour dissecting the rhythms of right and wrong. The author Deborah Rodriguez gives an ultra-dimensional view of Kabul and its disputable living by creating a knitted pattern of the segments described above.   The book talks about empowerment of women through their beliefs and desires. The characters evolve themselves in their tryst for inner truth, brushing off the forbidden tales of subjugation and incapacity.

 So, we head straight to the coffee shop owned by Halajan – an old woman frantic enough to smoke and cut her hair, and disguise it with a cloth over her head to avert the shady looks of her son, Ahmet.

Sunny looks after the Coffee shop and its paraphernalia. An American by birth, she finds her home in Kabul, proud of her achievements in making the coffee shop a favourable spot among the customers. Her benevolence towards Yazmina, an abandoned and tyrannized young girl, goes miles to help Yazmina find her true identity.

Pregnant Yazmina, a perfect example of a woman stormed by the callous and impenitent patriarchal rules in Afghanistan, is given shelter by Sunny.  She gradually awakens to her strengths and her love for artistic craft to wean off the complexes and repression. Her falling in love with Ahmet gives an impetus to love life again.

We are introduced to two very strong and uplifted women – Isabel and Candace.  The journalistic streak in Isabel mounts her to investigate the unscrupulous activities paving from the gigantic poppy fields to giving military training to young boys for destroying the very essence of human spirit. Candace cuts the straw to help Isabel in her mission. Her impressively viable contacts make her a strong bone to fight off the defiance coming in the way. Her love for Wakil is shattered by his incongruous prospect of bedding her for his deplorable gain.

As these women meet at the coffee shop to share their privileges, aspirations and dilemmas, we see a finale of Sunny’s acceptance of her true joy of life, Yazmina’s strength to break all the shackles, Halajan’s conscientious effort to protect Yazmina and her child, Isabel’s formidable will to tie both ends of the knot, and an irrepressible dream to be fulfilled by Candace.    

Take Away         

A very light-hearted book that invokes a sense of belongingness to our own will to live and rejoice. The spirit to conquer the unconquerable is an impulse not to be buried under the ground. Women from time immemorial have been subjugated to irrational paradigms of religious doctrines and man-made superfluous thinking. The book looks for flexibility and rationality in the conquest to retain hope and positivity.

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