One of the best eye-openers I have ever read!
I am so glad I started this book now and not earlier, because I couldn’t have handled some of the grotesque details this book paints. Khaled Hosseini has easily become one of my favorite authors to date.
Amir and Hassan as boys, have all the readers reminiscing about their childhood when they run around in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, climbing trees and flying kites; they play together and spend many a time under the Pomegranate tree where Amir reads to Hassan.They even carve their names into the bark “Amir and Hassan. The Sultans of Kabul”. But the similarities end there.
Hassan has an almost God-like devotion to Amir, which sadly isn’t reciprocated. Nevertheless Hassan with his simpleton way of life and innocent words steals the first half of the book (“For you a thousand times over”). Even as the kinship continues to grow, the racial differences between them shows it‘s ugly face when Assef, the ruffian threatens them, especially the Hazara boy, Hassan. The pivotal point of the story is when Hassan is raped by Assef because he doesn’t yield to his demands. Twelve year old Amir watches, helpless, as his best friend is tormented. This leaves him an insomniac for the major part of his life. Distress replaces the smiles on both their faces. Amir resorts to curt indifference, while Hassan prepares to forget the trauma for the dreary days following the incident.
Amir’s relationship with his Baba is fragile. Amir finds his passion in writing but his father only has disapproving eyes when he sits with a book instead of playing football like all boys of his age. The little boy yearning for love from a father who is poles apart from him is endearing.
I still don’t understand why Amir decided to drive poor Hassan out of his life by planting fake evidence. But once Ali and Hassan leave, the story drops to a mundane narration.
Things take a sudden turn when Amir and Baba are forced to leave their legacy and hometown because of the Soviet invasion. They take refuge in Fremont, California where Baba works a menial job in a gas station while Amir goes to College. It is the separation from his nation and the reckless Afghani within Baba that quickens his already deteriorating health.
“Afghans abhor rules but cherish customs”
Time goes by, and Amir marries but isn’t blessed with any children. A phone call from an old family friend brings back all memories of Afghan to Amir. He visits this friend, Rahim Khan , who tells Amir about Hassan’s sad death at the Taliban’s gunpoint. He also drops him a huge bombshell when he tells that Hassan is in fact his illegal half-brother and that he has a half-nephew.
Amir decides to seek redemption by rescuing this nephew, Sohrab from one of the orphanages in Afghan. Amir finds Afghan in a decaying fashion: a scrubby, miserable beggar turns out to be a professor who used to teach literature.
The encounters Amir has with Farid in new Afghan is given in a crass and morbid manner.
The moments in the book which made indelible impressions on me ..
- the scene where a human leg is auctioned off to feed the lowly families who can no longer afford meat.
- the scene in which a Talib heartlessly murders two Hazaras in an open group by hurling stones at their half-buried bodies…..
- …..the result of which that is a mangled mash of flesh and blood .
- the Taliban wearing the shirt with the blood of his victims with nonchalance.
Amir is reminded of his childhood friend, his brother, when he looks at Sohrab. The Taliban leader, his nemesis, Assef has Sohrab under his control and has shown the kid no mercy.
A fight ensues between Amir and Assef to settle their old score and for Sohrab’s freedom. Assef easily overpowers the docile writer, but Sohrab, like a true son of his father, aims his slingshot at Assef’s eye. I cannot forget the gruesome imagery of the brass ball projectile from the slingshot that lodges in Assef’s eye socket after squishing his eye. Amir and Sohrab get out of Afghan alive.
The author showed us how adoption into an American family can be tricky with all the official procedures. Sohrab’s terror and trauma returns when he hears from Amir that he will have to enroll in an orphanage before he can go with him to America. The kid’s silent suffering has us wiping tears from the corner of our eyes. But his resilience is seen when he decides to commit suicide by drowning himself in the bathtub with his wrists cut open.
The book ends with Sohrab finally moving to America and being adopted by Amir. Amir makes peace with his past and learns to stand up for himself and others who are dependent on him, which he has never been able to do before. One fine day, man and son find common ground in kite-flying sport.
“The Kite Runner” was not just a story, but a life lesson on humanity, kindness, brotherhood and virtue. It shook me up very bad and I know I will never be the same again.
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