The Kite Run­ner by Khaled Hos­seini

The Star (St. Lucia) - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Iwould com­pare The Kite Run­ner to rhyth­mic drum­ming! The novel is a dar­ing, speed­ing ac­count of the re­la­tion­ships that Amir man­ages to main­tain. His guilt pounds through every sin­gle page just like the haunt­ingly ap­peal­ing sound of a bare hand beat­ing on stretched goat skin. Khaled Hos­seini has com­posed a story that is as en­joy­able as it is daunt­ing.

First set in Kabul, Afghanistan dur­ing the civil war and then Cold War. Amir grows up in Kabul with his ser­vant boy, Has­san, as his clos­est friend although he can never con­fi­dently ad­mit it be­cause of Afghan racism and reli­gious prej­u­dice. Amir spends his early years try­ing to gain the af­fec­tion of his fa­ther, Baba, his only liv­ing par­ent. Baba is the lo­cal hero be­cause of his good deeds, hard work and sense of de­cency. Amir, how­ever, is a cow­ard and lets his fears lead him to un­re­solv­able guilt and the loss of Has­san. Amir rarely fights his own bat­tles and the only way he gets a glimpse of Baba’s af­fec­tion is af­ter he wins a tra­di­tional kite-fight­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter the Sovi­ets in­ter­vene in the Afghan war, Baba and Amir move to Amer­ica. Nearly two decades later, an old friend and old se­crets call Amir back to the war zone for re­demp­tion and pos­si­bly for­give­ness. This is where the cli­max of the drum­ming lies. On meet­ing his old friend in Pak­istan in the sum­mer of 2001, Amir learns of se­crets about his loved ones that are even dirt­ier than the ones he hid for al­most thirty years. He is told about Has­san’s life af­ter he man­aged to ex­ile him from Kabul, and then fi­nally he learns the most pro­found and hurt­ful se­cret of all. By then Baba and Has­san are dead but there is a son. Amir em­barks on an ex­pe­di­tion to find and save Has­san’s son from the Tal­iban. The end­ing of the story is happy, in its own way, es­pe­cially as through­out the en­tire book one keeps won­der­ing what will hap­pen next and if it could pos­si­bly get any worse.

On Amir’s re­turn to Afghanistan, he re­alises what he es­caped and the un­for­tu­nate and prej­u­diced cir­cum­stances in his home coun­try. “And the beg­gars were mostly chil­dren now, thin and grim-faced, some no older than five or six. They sat in the laps of their burqa-clad moth­ers along­side gut­ters at busy street corners and chanted ‘Bakhshesh, bakhshesh!’ And some­thing else, some­thing I hadn’t no­ticed right away: Hardly any of them sat with an adult male - the wars had made fa­thers a rare com­mod­ity in Afghanistan.”

Although fam­ily, friend­ship, love and re­demp­tion are clear themes in the book, so is war­fare and its bru­tal­ity. The Afghan war has not ended since the set­ting of this novel. The Kite Run­ner is a raw re­minder that peo­ple, es­pe­cially chil­dren, are still suf­fer­ing from crimes stem­ming from prej­u­dice and hate. “There a lot of chil­dren in Afghanistan, but lit­tle child­hood.”

This week a shoot­ing oc­curred in the U.S. that ini­ti­ated and en­forced the cries of many black peo­ple all over the world. So­cial me­dia is in a bat­tle be­tween “black lives mat­ter” and “all lives mat­ter”. It could not have been a bet­ter time for me to read The Kite Run­ner and be re­minded that all lives do mat­ter and that some hu­mans are ca­pa­ble of de­spi­ca­ble ac­tions.

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