Note: The following experience happened in September 2018. I re-read Sea Prayer last night which is why I am recalling my experience now.
One of my life’s biggest joys is when I get to meet the authors, who have made an impact on my life (which includes Stephen King, Paulo Coelho and Matt Haig). This time, I was fortunate enough to get a ticket for Khaled Hosseini’s Sea Prayer book launch in London.
I remember when I picked up Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, with absolutely no knowledge of who he is and what the story is about. All I knew is that it’s a novel based in Afghanistan. That book left such a huge impact on me and I realized Hosseini would be someone to look out for.
So it was with extreme excitement that I made my way to the Southbank center in London, an hour before the scheduled time. I really wanted to get my hands on the free book they were giving out to each ticket holder. It wasn’t just a book, but rather a signed copy.
Hosseini is Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and also the founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundatioon that provides humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan.
His book Sea Prayer is essentially a story about a father and his son as they escape their homeland to seek safer grounds. It is a story of a father promising a life of safety and love. It is about a father protecting his son, and at the same time teaching him to be a man.
Marwan, the son, is led through a series of moments by his father where he encounters grief and loss, death and destruction, love and protection from his father, eventually reaching to his freedom.
The short narrative is accompanied by striking visuals by Dan Williams, a London based artist.
Don’t be fooled by the short narrative or the visuals. It is a lot to be a refugee, and I can’t even imagine going through what millions of refugees are going through. I allowed for the words and the visuals to sink in me. I imagined experiencing what Marwan experiences. Combined with the visuals that were being shown at the talk, along with the descriptions Hosseini shared with us, I was just filled up with immense gratitude for my own life. I just couldn’t stop thanking God for giving me the comfort of life that I take for granted.
At the talk, Hosseini talked a lot about the work he is doing for the refugees. It was an eye opener session, and to understand what a parent or a child goes through is absolutely heart wrenching.
To hear him read out from his book, and to hear of his ground experiences in Afghanistan, just brought out a lot of emotions from most people in the hall.
Ultimately, Hosseini uses his power of words for the betterment of his people. I deeply admire that. It’s not about making money or profits from his book. In fact, every time Sea Prayer is purchased, money is donated to UNHCR. Which is why it’s imperative that his original books are bought and not the pirated one.
It may be a short book, but if you truly put yourself into the shoes of the young boy Marwan, it can be daunting experience.
The aim of the book is merely to show the life of a refugee. The purpose, for Hosseni, is to raise his voice for those who can’t speak up. He’s bringing to light the issues Afghanis face in their own country.
Sea Prayer is about a father’s love for his son. It is about staying positive in the face of adversity. It is about being strong in grueling and arduous moments. Ultimately, it is about not giving up in life and having hope and faith to make it through.