“I want to tear myself from this place, from this reality, rise up like a cloud and float away, melt into this humid summer night and dissolve somewhere far, over the hills. But I am here, my legs blocks of concrete, my lungs empty of air, my throat burning. There will be no floating away.”
― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Seven years have flown past since I first read the story of Amir and Hassan. Seven years since I first cried my hearts out for two fictional characters. Over the years I have come to understand that their story probably belongs to many Afghan children.
Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner is one of my favourite books. It is one of many books that made me an avid reader.
Hosseini dispels stereotypes of Afghanistan in Western media in The Kite Runner by drawing on his personal familiarity with the country's culture, traditions, and people. The novel, which is framed as a tale of fathers and sons, explores the region's turbulent history of ground wars beginning with the fall of the monarchy through to the time when the Taliban controlled the country, illuminating and defining the lives of Afghanis who had their lives interrupted by war.
The Kite Runner is the tale of Sunni Muslim Amir who, as a result of a string of painful events that occurred when he was a young child, tries to find his place in the world. The book begins with an adult Amir making a passing allusion to one of these incidents in modern-day America, and then it jumps back to Amir's early years in Afghanistan. Along with the typical experiences of growing up, Amir struggles with developing a stronger bond with his father, Baba, figuring out the specifics of his relationship with Hassan, his Shi'a Muslim servant, and eventually finding a way to make amends for preadolescent choices that have long-lasting effects. Readers are given the opportunity to experience single-parent Afghan childhood along the road. Along the way, readers get to experience what it was like to grow up in a single-parent Afghan household, which is quite similar to many modern homes.
As a member of the wealthy class growing up in Afghanistan but not feeling like one in his family, Amir faces a complex socioeconomic society that he must learn to navigate. Even though Hassan and his father Ali are servants, Amir occasionally treats them more like family. Baba, Amir's father, also confuses rather than enlightens the young Amir because he doesn't always follow the rules of his society. Many members of Afghanistan's ruling class elite see the world as black and white, but Amir recognises that there are numerous shades of grey.
Amir has to deal with his personal problems as well as the unpredictability of the Afghan political system in the 1970s. Amir makes a conscious decision to remain silent during a pivotal episode that occurs during a significant kite flying competition. By choosing to remain silent instead of confronting bullies and aggressors, Amir starts a chain reaction that results in remorse, falsehoods, and betrayals. Amir and his father eventually have to leave Afghanistan due to the shifting political landscape. Amir sees moving to America as a chance to move on from his past.
The past is unable to be forgotten, despite Amir and Baba's efforts to start over in the United States. When it rears its ugly head, Amir is compelled to go back to his native country in order to deal with the demons and choices of his youth and has only a remote chance of making amends.
The Kite Runner is ultimately a book about connections, particularly those between Amir and Hassan, Baba, Rahim Khan, Soraya, and Sohrab, as well as how those relationships overlap and intersect to shape who we are as individuals.
This was Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel. The book was published in 2003, two years after the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the US invasion of Afghanistan. Hosseini, the son of a diplomat for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and relocated to France as a child. When Afghanistan was thrown into turmoil by the Soviet occupation at the height of the Cold War, Hosseini’s family was granted asylum in the United States and settled in San Jose, California. Decades later, upon reading that the Taliban had outlawed kite fighting in Afghanistan, Hosseini penned a short story he later expanded into the novel The Kite Runner
The book travels through many topics such as violence, family ties, discrimination, literacy, sin and redemption among many others. Hossieni has written the story in a way that made me look into life through a black and white filter. It reminded me that many in this world has still not seen the colours of life. The privileged lives we follow sometimes tends to disconnect us from the harsh reality others live in different parts of the world.
Political games has destroyed the lives of many. As in the story, the Taliban rule in the nation has put up almost a border among their own people. Discriminating them in many ways, destroying the livelihoods and most importantly, severing families. Post the US invasion after 9/11, the Taliban is on track to bring in the world of Hossieni's Afghanistan back. A life pictured through a black and white frame. Is this what we as humans are capable of? Is this what we are intended to do?
That is a question we must answer keeping in mind the peace and happiness everyone deserves in this world.