I would 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.