The driver pulled his taxi over to 1)let pass another long 2)convoy of Soviet jeeps and 3)armored vehicles. Tariq leaned across the front seat, over the driver, and yelled, “Pajalmia! Pajalmia!”
A jeep honked and Tariq whistled back, beaming and waving cheerfully. “Lovely guns!” he yelled. “Fabulous jeeps! Fabulous army! Too bad you’re losing to a bunch of peasants firing 4)slingshots!” The convoy passed. The driver merged back onto the road.
“How much farther?” Laila asked. “An hour at the most,” the driver said. “5)Barring any more convoys or 6)checkpoints.”
They were taking a day trip, Laila, Babi, and Tariq. The trip was Babi’s idea. Though he could hardly afford it on his salary, he’d hired a driver for the day. He wouldn’t disclose anything to Laila about their destination except to say that, with it, he was contributing to her education.
They had been on the road since five in the morning. Through Laila’s window, the landscape shifted from snowcapped peaks to deserts to canyons and sun-scorched 7)outcroppings of rocks. Along the way, they passed mud houses with thatched roofs and fields dotted with bundles of wheat. 8)Pitched out in the dusty fields, here and there, Laila recognized the black tents of Koochi nomads. And, frequently, the 9)carcasses of burnedout Soviet tanks and wrecked helicopters. This, she thought, here in the provinces, was where the war was being fought, after all. Not in 10)Kabul. Kabul was largely at peace. Back in Kabul, if not for the occasional bursts of gunfire, if not for the Soviet soldiers smoking on the sidewalks and the Soviet jeeps always bumping through the streets, war might as well have been a rumor.
It was late morning, after they’d passed two more checkpoints, when they entered a valley. Babi had Laila lean across the seat and pointed to a series of ancient-looking walls of 11)sun-dried red in the distance. “That’s called Red City. It used to be a fortress. It was built some nine hundred years ago to defend the valley from invaders.”
“And that, my young friends, is the story of our country, one invader after another,” the driver said, flicking cigarette ash out the window. “Macedonians. 12)Sassanians. Arabs. Mongols. Now the Soviets. But we’re like those walls up there. 13)Battered, and nothing pretty to look at, but still standing. Isn’t that the truth, badar?’
“Indeed it is,” said Babi.
Half an hour later, the driver pulled over.
“Come on, you two,” Babi said. “Come outside and have a look.” They got out of the taxi. Babi pointed “There they are. Look.” Tariq gasped. Laila did too. And she knew then that she could live to be a hundred and she would never again see a thing as magnificent.
The two 14)Buddhas were enormous, soaring much higher than she had imagined from all the photos she’d seen of them. Chiseled into a 15)sun-bleached rock cliff, they peered down at them, as they had nearly two thousand years before, Laila imagined, at 16)caravans crossing the valley on the Silk Road. On either side of them, along the overhanging niche, the cliff 17)was pocked with myriad caves.
“I feel so small,” Tariq said. “You want to climb up?” Babi said. “Up the statues?” Laila asked. “We can do that?”
Babi smiled and held out his hand. “Come on.”
They saw shadowy caves along the way, and tunnels 18)honeycombing the cliff every which way. “Careful where you step,” Babi said. His voice made a loud echo. “The ground is 19)treache-rous.” In some parts, the staircase was open to the Buddha’s cavity. “Don’t look down, children. Keep looking straight ahead.”
As they climbed, Babi told them that 20)Bamiyan had once been a thriving Buddhist center until it had fallen under Islamic Arab rule in the ninth century. The sandstone cliffs were home to Buddhist monks who carved caves in them to use as living quarters and as 21)sanctuary for weary traveling pilgrims. The monks, Babi said, painted beautiful 22)frescoes along the walls and roofs of their caves.
Tariq was badly out of breath when they reached the top. Babi was panting too. But his eyes shone with excitement. “We’re standing atop its head,” he said, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. “There’s a niche over here where we can look out.”
They inched over to the craggy 23)overhang and, standing side by side, with Babi in the middle, gazed down on the valley. “Look at this!” said Laila. Babi smiled.
The Bamiyan Valley below was carpeted by lush farming fields. Babi said they were green winter wheat and 24)alfalfa, potatoes too. The fields were bordered by 25)poplars and crisscrossed by streams and irrigation ditches, on the banks of which tiny female figures squatted and washed clothes. It was autumn, and Laila could make out people in bright 26)tunics on the roofs of mud brick dwellings laying out the harvest to dry. The sky above all of this was an immaculate, spotless blue. “It’s so quiet,” Laila breathed. She could see tiny sheep and horses but couldn’t hear their 27)bleating and 28)whinnying. “It’s what I always remember about being up here,” Babi said. “The silence. The peace of it. I wanted you to experience it. But I also wanted you to see your country’s heritage, children, to learn of its rich past. You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you just have to see and feel.”
Laila watched a trio of men far below, talking near a cow 29)tethered to a fence. Around them, the trees had started to turn, ochre and orange, scarlet red.
胡塞尼此书的书名来自波斯诗人塞依伯歌颂喀布尔的诗歌：“人们数不清她的屋顶上有多少皎洁的明月，也数不清她的墙壁之后那一千个灿烂的太阳。”（One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs. And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.）书中女主人公莱拉的爸爸，刚吟完这首诗就被炸得身首分离。当时他正在整理书架，为难地想如何从满架的书中挑出五本来带到美国去。
很长一段时间内，世界上很多关于阿富汗人的文章多数围绕塔利班、本 • 拉登和反恐战争展开。电视新闻画面里血肉模糊、炸弹横飞的场面也很难让人想象那些和我们比邻而居的人们过着一种怎样的生活。胡塞尼的两本小说为全球读者展开了阿富汗文化民俗和历史的长卷，就好像擦亮了一扇窗户，那个国家不再只是灰色……(Eva)
卡勒德·胡塞尼（Khaled Hosseini），1965年生于喀布尔，后随父亲逃往美国。胡塞尼毕业于加州大学圣地亚哥医学系，现居加州，并因其巨大的国际影响力受邀担任联合国亲善大使。他的第一本小说《追风筝的人》（The Kite Runner）问世后大获成功，因书中角色刻画生动，故事情节震撼感人，蝉联亚马逊排行榜131周之久，全球热销600万册，创下出版奇迹。《灿烂千阳》是胡塞尼继《追风筝的人》四年后出版的第二本小说，出版之前即获得极大关注，2007年5月22日在美国首发，赢得评论界一致好评，使胡塞尼由新人作家一跃成为受到广泛认可的成熟作家。