The Patience Stone

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The Book

The Patience Stone
A wife nurses her much older husband, a mujahedeen fighter. He lies paralysed and unconscious from a gunshot wound in the head. Abandoned by her mother-in-law and brothers, she refuses to leave and continues to be a dutiful wife.

Around their shabby home in Kabul bombs keep exploding. She discovers the bloodied bodies of some of her neighbours in the courtyard next door.

Assuming that he cannot hear a word she says so he cannot punish her, she begins to talk to him truthfully about their loveless arranged marriage. Out flows a torrent of sorrow, frustration and anger.

Even on their wedding day he was absent. His photograph and a sword stood proxy for him. The ten years that followed were filled with continual abuse and neglect.

Confused by her continuous need to pour out her woes, and at times to curse him, she turns to her aunt who explains that her husband is like the mythical Patience Stone. As you unburden yourself it will gradually absorb your sorrows and swell up, until finally it bursts. At that moment in time you will be set free.

Her aunt is looking after her two daughters. She invites her to also stay with her but she insists on going back to her husband. Then two soldiers break into the house and threaten to rape her.

The only way she can think of to defend herself is to say she is a prostitute. Surely no man will wish to sully himself by raping such a woman. They do leave her alone but the younger one, stuttering and shy, comes back on his own later. He is willing to pay for sex. An unusual relationship develops between them.

The Movie

This film was based on a novel by the same name written by Atiq Rahimi. He was raised in Afghanistan but has spent the last twenty years living in Paris. He also directed the movie.

The wife is played by Golshifteh Faranhi, a beautiful young Iranian actress with an expressive and sorrowful face. Her stunning performance held our full attention throughout a protracted monologue.

My partner John found it to be a sombre but thought provoking movie which showed both how awful war is and how bleak the lives of women in countries like Afghanistan are.

"This movie could easily be adapted to a stage play as almost all the action takes place in one room," he commented.

The atrocities of war shown in The Patience Stone not only saddened me but also made me feel grateful. While wars overseas continue to ravage the lives of millions of people we and our children have enjoyed peace.

As far as women's rights go we've also come a long way. Our granddaughters take it for granted that girls can do everything. For them equality is simply the way it is.

This movie is the very opposite of a feel good movie but it is beautifully crafted and contains a powerful message.