I pride myself for this fitting title as I finish reading Khaled Hosseini’s novel in my kindle and also as we arrive in Chiang Mai after days of cycling over and around mountains. Oh yes do the mountains echo. No doubt about that. But they echo weirdly, unlike usual echoes which become softer and smaller. Mountains echo in the opposite direction, bigger than the next, and definitely louder – louder swearing and louder laughs of sadism and disbelief. Hosseini’s novel is about separation and then reunion of both characters and plot. The stories expand as characters face heart-wrenching separation, and unrealistically reunite through the possibilities of an expanded story. In these mountains, we saw separation. The separation of people from their land – non-thai-speaking Burmese working in Mae Sot, forever burdened with sending back money to their struggling families in Burma and kilometers spanning a Burmese refugee camp holding who knows how many people.
The separation of countries – a river and a mountain range conveniently separating a land into two governments, two languages, two cultures, and two countries. The separation from a lack of communication – the Thai and Burmese language, and even the English language, so alien to these mountains. And also, our separation from all civilisation when we were on the mountains, in the clouds, unable to contact family, friends and school for a night. A night for us, but maybe a lifetime for these cloud dwellers.
Reunion however, I see, takes place in the fantasies of writers and readers, and the privileges of the tourist.