Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reflections on The Kite Runner

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ 
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

"When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of my father’s house and annoy our neighbors by reflecting sunlight into their homes with a shard of mirror. We would sit across from each other on a pair of high branches, our naked feet dangling, our trouser pockets filled with dried mulberries and walnuts. We took turns with the mirror as we ate mulberries, pelted each other with them, giggling, laughing."

(The Kite Runner, p.3)

I have an idealistic mind. I love peace and the state of innocence. Therefore, my choices of reading are usually light with a hopeful ending.

But The Kite Runner, is different. Deliberately choosing to read The Kite Runner is like the act of deliberately "torturing my inner-self". Thanks to my sense of strong curiosity, so now I have understood the profound effect of The Kite Runner. Right after I have finished reading it, I closed its cover, hold it in my arm and it left me hollow for few minutes. It made me think and reflect on several things;

The forgotten, neglected beauty

"We sat against the low cemetery wall under the shade thrown by the pomegranate tree. In another month or two, crops of scorched yellow weeds would blanket the hillside, but that year the spring showers had lasted longer than usual, nudging their way into early summer, and the grass was still green, peppered with tangles of wildflowers. Below us, Wazir Akbar Khan’s white walled, flat-topped houses gleamed in the sunshine, the laundry hanging on clotheslines in their yards stirred by the breeze to dance like butterflies. We had picked a dozen pomegranates from the tree. I unfolded the story I’d brought along, turned to the first page, then put it down. I stood up and picked up an overripe pomegranate that had fallen to the ground".

(The Kite Runner, p. 85)

Reading The Kite Runner, which portrays the innocence, freedom and purity of Afghanistan, specifically Kabul, around fifty years back, is fascinating to me. I am fascinated at the way the landscapes of Afghanistan are told in the story; untouched. I am fascinated by the idea that children could run around freely exploring the wonders of nature, they climbed trees and picked fruits; pomegranate, peaches, mulberries. In schools, they learnt the arts of Khayyam, Hãfez, and Rumi, which were taught in their common language, Persian, one of the most exquisite languages of the world. And in winter, when the school was closed, they played kites.

Yet, when I stopped reading for a while, and let my mind wondered to the reality of Afghanistan now, I became speechless. Unfortunately, as time changes and as Afghanistan writes its history filled with change of power, wars, fights, the search of stability, global recognition as well as trust and a better future, some of its entities of innocence, freedom and purity are either neglected, unappreciated, forgotten, manipulated or banned. Kite fighting, for example, was once banned by the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan until late 2001. The true nature, beauty and uniqueness of Aghanistan are hidden, not widely known. They are either gone or overshadowed by the idea and images portrayed by the Western media especially, that it is one of the most dangerous countries in the world (Olson, 2010: Forbes)

Afghanistan is not the only country which true beauty and uniqueness are hidden or disappeared. Countries such as Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and few others have their own special uniqueness and beauty; their cultures, histories, traditions, heritages and scenic nature. However, some of them are either being overshadowed by the news highlights of the fightings happening in these countries or they have disappeared, destroyed in the hands of irresponsible people fighting for their selfish cause. Look at what is happening in Syria now. Buildings and cities were tarnished, civilians and their sheikhs were killed. Gone were the heritage, beauty and tranquility that it used to have. Gone. And this, is painfully heart-breaking.

Love, sincerity and loyalty

"...I have been dreaming a lot lately, Amir agha. Some of them are nightmares, like hanged corpses rotting in soccer fields with bloodred grass. I wake up from those short of breath and sweaty. Mostly, though, I dream of good things, and praise Allah for that. I dream that Rahim Khan sahib will be well. I dream that my son will grow up to be a good person, a free person, and an important person. I dream that lawla flowers will bloom in the streets of Kabul again and rubab music will play in the samovar houses and kites will fly in the skies. And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you. 

May Allah be with you always. 

(The Kite Runner, p. 201)

And it's heart-breaking also when dreams are shattered and unable to be fulfilled, like what Hassan, one of the main characters in the Kite Runner, has to face.

Reading The Kite Runner and knowing about Hassan, one of the main characters in the Kite Runner, is really touching. The portrayal of his loyalty towards Amir, how he values their friendship despite Amir's betrayal, his appreciation towards Amir's father, his obedience towards his father, his Hazara origin, his difficulties, his love towards the wife and son, his well treatment towards his mother who used to abandon him, his dreams and how they shattered, and his ending fate, are intensely heart-breaking to me. The more I read about Hasan, the more I felt my heart was torn apart. I can't help but to feel attach to him through the ties of sympathy, compassion and mercy.

Nevertheless, the way Hassan carries himself, through his speeches, actions and his final letter to Amir do not show that he wants the readers' sympathy or my compassion. Symbolically, he wants us to know and understand that he still chooses goodness and sincerity, in the midst of the malice, meanness and lies. Despite having to bear his own difficulties, he still hopes, wishes and wants the best for the people he loves and cares. And most importantly, he does all that unconditionally. Though being put down really really low by some people in his life, he actually possesses gems that other people do not own; He has a very pure heart and soul. In the story, he may be seen like a victim, yet symbolically, it is he who is the hero. His existence has actually and subtly taught us the forgotten values that we often neglected nowadays; to always be appreciative, to love unconditionally, to uphold sincerity and loyalty.

In our world full of egoism and individualism, I wonder, can we still find such loyal and trustworthy companion like that? Yes, I believe we still can, but rare. So once you've found them, never take them for granted, never let them go.


"Then, just like that, the green kite was spinning and wheeling out of control. 
Behind us, people cheered. Whistles and applause broke out. I was panting. The last time I had felt a rush like this was that day in the winter of 1975, just after I had cut the last kite, when I spotted Baba on our rooftop, clapping, beaming. 
I looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth had curled up just so. 
A smile.
Hardly there. 
But there. 
Behind us, kids were scampering, and a melee of screaming kite runners was chasing the loose kite drifting high above the trees. I blinked and the smile was gone. But it had been there. I had seen it. 
“Do you want me to run that kite for you?” 
His Adam’s apple rose and fell as he swallowed. The wind lifted his hair. I thought I saw him nod.
“For you, a thousand times over,” I heard myself say. 
Then I turned and ran. 
It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make anything all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. 
But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting. 
I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children. But I didn’t care. I ran with the wind blowing in my face, and a smile as wide as the Valley of Panjsher on my lips. 
I ran."

(The Kite Runner, p. 339; The Ending)

Unlike Hassan, his son Sohrab, is bitterly affected by everything that's happening to him; his father and mother were shot to death, and his innocence as a child was taken away from him. While Amir, tries his best to look after Sohrab, in the hope that this could cure his wound and guilt towards the late Hasan.

Khaled Hosseini's ending of The Kite Runner is indeed brilliantly and beautifully inspiring. He ends it with Amir receiving the best gift that he would expect from Sohrab; a smile. He ends it by giving Amir a light of hope, despite all the guilt and difficulties. He ends it by telling us the readers, that despite anything, there is some hope. No matter how hard circumstances are and were, hope for something better is always there.

Always believe, that hope is always there.

Hope is there.


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