I was recently admitted into the new age spirit of an e-reader, a Kobo specifically. It took reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini to remind me that I still love that traditional smell of a fresh book that reaches to you like the smell of fresh fries on a hungry stomach.
In The Kite Runner, we are introduced to a certain present time by the lead character narrator. He talks of a phone call in 2001 that has changed him. Then by the next page, he takes us on a ride through his memory lane talking of his entire life from childhood to the time when he got married and that very time – 2001. It took some 150 or so pages to get there so you can imagine that with the excitement of Hosseini’s narrative and flowery diction, I had to trace my way back to Page 1. Now, the e-reader wasn’t fast enough to get me there – or I didn’t want to waste time – so I jumped to one of my bookshelves and picked the paperback. I read the two pages in seconds and was back on speed with my book (Page 175).
Oh! Did I mention that I am still reading the book? It is one you should. I think Khaled Hosseini is worthy of every praise he is getting. His story as I have read so far traces how we make decisions that haunt us. Our lead character out of childhood jealousy and a hope to impress his father betrays his best friend (Hassan) and does not stand up for his friend in a time of danger. This is despite Hassan being in that position because he had stuck to his ground
retrieving a kite for the honour of our lead character (Amir). Hassan forgives Amir and begs him to play but guilt strangles any joy that Amir might have had. In the end, he sets Hassan up and makes him to be driven away.
Okay, you don’t get the picture. There’s this caste system and Hassan is the son of the servant of Amir’s father. So, despite being born at the same time with Amir and sharing the breasts of a woman brought to suckle them (Hassan’s mother ran away and Amir’s mother died after childbirth), Hassan is to be Amir’s servant too. They become friends and Hassan is OVERTLY loyal. He is a strong boy who stands up for Amir always. Now, eventually Amir gets envious of his own father liking Hassan. He also wants to win the love of his father who doesn’t think much of children who prefer reading to playing soccer! Anyways, so, that is the point where this and that happens, Hassan still sacrifices a million times more for Amir and has to leave with his father breaking a relationship of many years.
War and instability comes to Afghanistan. Amir leaves his native Afghanistan and migrates to America with his father (his mother is dead, by the way). Time rolls on itself and a lot happens; his father dies, he gets married etc etc. He hopes to have fresh starts but he discovers; the past never really leaves us. It cannot be really buried. Perhaps ignored sometimes but never buried in entirety. Like our shadows, this past clings to us and when day shines we find it walking beside us. Well, that’s most of what I have made of his position.
As I read on, I think empathically of what Hassan’s life would be like at that point. How the pranks and nonchalance of the young Amir changed the destiny of Hassan and his father. I am thinking of how our acts of commissions and omissions end up being the decider on the making or breaking of people. I am thinking of my own childhood, decisions I have made and wondering if there aren’t holes to the past that I need to fill in whatever way. In some cases we have little or nothing to do but if we think deep we will discover that though we can’t right all wrongs, there are certain things we can do to make amends and be better.
As Hosseini says, there is a way to be good again.
Yes, there is a way to be good again. May the times give us the grace to be better each moment and work to right whatever wrong we can. We only live once, why don’t we make it worth it?