A glance at Novel “The Kite Runner”
A glance at Novel “The Kite Runner”
Author of the novel: Khaled Hosseini
“Crow knows the language of the crow”
Unbiased and open-minded readers only, please!
Actually, the real novel writer is articulator of the dark corners, unspoken, and untouched aspects of the horizontal and vertical socio-cultural domains of a society that can not be found in an official cultural, social, geographical, or political books. The real novel writer is pointing the most important and crucial problem or question of the time in a society. If a novel becomes a tool for blotting, insulting, devaluating of the real values and measures of a nation, or a specific ethnic group, gaining some other financial and political interests and benefits, could be very dangerous, discriminatory, insane, seditious and/or inflammable.
Socio-cultural and ethical values and measures of a society, honestly kept during the evolution and development of the story, could be developed progressively during the span of the story. If a novel or story were lacking these characters, it would not be a real one. Events, developments and evolutions in a non-real novel or story theoretically are possible, but in practice are not applicable.
One of the important elements that have its special place in a novel is the imagination on the bases of the actual geographic, social, cultural, economical, psychological, and social psychology realities. If these imaginations are not laid on these bases, they cannot find their place amongst society.
Ethnic supremacy and priorities, shows selfishness, shortsightedness, narrow-mindedness, and dogmatism only, while in every society there are many ethnic groups. Recognition of persons, in a specific ethnic group or a nation has its own importance and beauty in a dialectical relationship with other ethnic groups or nations in a wide range of human beings and is possible through an academic practical and strategic methodology. If there is an experimental mistake, it is a great lesson, if it is intentional, how unforgivable and irreparable it would be.
Being literate only, is not sufficient to claim of being a real novel writer or poet or artist. The novel is the most complex and developed genre of literature that needs the precise, correct and complete knowledge of history, philosophy, history of religion, culture, politics, economics, socio-psychology and etc. Hereinafter, the real novel writer is an impartial depositor, honest, responsible undertaker of the highest values and measures of humanity and pointing the main problem and paradox of the society and time. The real novel writer is trying and searching to articulate and shows the ways of resolving the paradoxes with an academic/dynamic system of research.
Hereinafter, the measuring and criticizing of a novel needs the specific way of consumption and a thorough capacity of that knowledge. If a person or institutions are lacking of this capacity and capability, measuring or criticizing a novel irresponsibly, can not tell you more then:
“A beautiful novel… ranks among the best-written and provocative stories of the year so far. . . a heartbreaking story of [an] unlikely friendship. . . This unusually eloquent story is also about the fragile relationship between fathers and sons, humans and their gods, men and their countries. Loyalty and blood are the ties that bind their stories into one of the most lyrical, moving and unexpected books this year.”
-The Denver Post
“A marvelous first novel. . . the story of two young boys who are friends in Afghanistan, and an incredible story of the culture. It’s an old-fashioned kind of novel that really sweeps you away.” -San Francisco Chronicle
“It is so powerful that for a long time everything I read seemed bland.” -Isabel Allende
“Brilliant, startling plot twists make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East. . . The result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivotal point in the global politics of a new millennium. It is rare that a book is at once so timely and of such high literary quality.”
-“Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A more personal plot, arising from Amir’s close friendship with Hassan, the son of his father’s servant, turns out to be the thread that ties the book together. The fragility of this relationship, symbolized by the kites the boys fly together, is tested as they watch their old way of life disappear. Hosseini’s depiction of pre-revolutionary Afghanistan is rich in warmth and humor but also tense with the friction between the nation’s different ethnic grouRs. . . . Full of haunting images: a man, desperate to feed his children, trying to sell his artificial leg in the market; an adulterous couple stoned to death in a stadium during the halftime of a football match; a rouged young boy forced into prostitution, dancing the sort of steps once performed by an organ grinder’s monkey.” -The New York Times
“It is not so much a story of Mideast politics. . . as it is a story of life in a beautiful country torn asunder. Through his characters and the plot, which is captivating and at times quite disturbing, Hosseini offers a lesson on his culture and the history of his beloved homeland.”
-San Antonio Express-News
“The frame of the story is the rhythm of life. This novel, set in Afghanistan in the 1970s and later in America, is a work of universal interest because of the literary genius of Khaled Hosseini. The culmination of the novel, too brutal and beautiful to reveal, demonstrates the author’s capacity to bring life full circle in a great arc of grace and redeeming activity. A profound work of literature with a rare healing power.”
-The Buffalo News
“Khaled Hosseini brings his native country to life with great sensitivity. [He] richly describes the Afghan customs and traditions that tug on the immigrants as they mourn the loss of their country and struggle to build an American life. In The Kite Runner Hosseini has created a wise, thoughtful book in which redemption and happiness are not necessarily the same thing.”
“This extraordinary novel locates the personal struggles of everyday people in the terrible sweep of history.” -People
“Evocative. . . acute and genuine… One of the great strengths of The Kite Runner is its sympathetic portrayal of Afghans and Afghan culture. Hosseini writes with warmth and enviable familiarity about Afghanistan and its people. . . a descriptive and easily readable account.” -Chicago Tribune
“A powerful book. . . no frills, no nonsense, just hard spare prose. . . An intimate account of family and friendship, betrayal and salvation that requires no atlas or translation to engage and enlighten us. Parts of The Kite Runner are raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written. Hosseini clearly loves his country as much as he hates what has become of it . . . A tale told in simple brush strokes, closer to Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes than Mahfouz’s Trilogy. Hosseini is at his best describing moments of slow, silent agony.”
-The Washington Post Book World
“Demonstrates a love of storytelling and respect for literary writing in equal measures. . . a big-hearted book with plenty of winning qualities. One of the most appealing aspects of this novel is its deceptively simple prose. Like Waiting, Ha Jin’s novel of love, politics and class issues, The Kite Runner blesses readers with guileless storytelling.”
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A gripping and moving book that offers a surprising reward: an understanding of, and empathy for, the people of Afghanistan. . . The book’s power resides in Hosseini’s ability to bring that culture to life on the page. . . almost impossible to put down.”
-Iowa City Press
“A vivid picture of Afghanistan thirty years ago.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“Hosseini shows how an engaging novel begins-with simple, exquisite writing that compels the reader to turn the page.” -The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Provides an extraordinary perspective on the struggles of a country that, until that doleful September day, had been for too long ignored or misunderstood. And despite its grimmer episodes, the novel ends with a note of optimism about Afghanistan’s future, an optimism that the whole world would prefer to see unspoiled. -BookPage
“Hosseini does tenderness and terror, California dream, and Kabul nightmare with equal aplomb. . . . A ripping yarn and ethical parable.” -Globe and Mail
“From the first lines of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini shows how an engaging novel begins-with simple, exquisite writing that compels the reader to turn the page. . . . A wonderfully conjured story that offers a glimpse into Afghanistan most Americans have never seen, and depicts a side of the humanity rarely revealed.” -Contra Costa Times
“Here’s a real find: a striking debut from an Afghan now living in the U.S. His passionate story of betrayal and redemption is framed by Afghanistan’s tragic recent past. . . . Rather than settle for a coming-of-age or travails-of-immigrant story, Hosseini has folded them both into this searing spectacle of hardwon personal salvation. All this, and a rich slice of Afghan culture too: irresistible.” -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Provides a vivid glimpse of life in Afghanistan over the past quarter century. The characters of Amir and his father, their relationships, and the relationship of Hassan and Amir are all carefully and convincingly described and developed. Hosseini, now a doctor in California, is possibly the only Afghan author writing in English, and his first novel is recommended.”
If somebody asks crucial and essential questions, simply, they cannot answer or make some general comments. According to a master of literature, “They are like empty carrier bags. If you shake them, only small particles will be floating randomly in the air”.
I hope, as a very ordinary reader of the book, to have the permission to see the scenes, events, and courses of evolutions and developments of the story from the middle of society upward to the top of the pyramids of institutions.
I would be more than grateful to receive your constructive criticism and suggestions in this matter, regardless of what it is.
Sincerely yours and begging your pardons,
Safar A. Hanif,
“The Kite Runner” Narrated:
Birth of Amir’s father is concurrent to the year of King Zaher’s accession to the throne. (King Nader is father of King Zaher, he assassinated due to political motives by a freedom fighter, Abdul Khaliq, a Hazara student, during a football players’ visit in the Estiqlal High school playground. Amir’s grandfather is a judge at this time. This judge has a close relationship with King Nader. They took a picture during dear hunting together a couple of years ago of assassination. By narrator) The judge (he is from Pashtoon ethnic group, Sayed and Sunni, the largest religious group in Afghanistan) has completed the case of a traffic accident resulting in the death of a Hazara couple, hit by a drunk driver in Paghman Way. Only Ali, a five-year old son, survived from this accident. The judge took Ali home and raised him in his house, as a servant. Ali is a Hazara (ethnic group from central highlands of Afghanistan) and Shi-a (second largest sect of Islam after Sunni in Afghanistan).
Amir’s father, Agha Saheb, is a merchant. He married with Sophia Akrami, a literature professor. Amir’s mother is dying during Amir’s birth in 1963. Ali has married with his cousin, Sanaubar who is also Hazara and Shi-a and escapes after five days of giving birth to Hassan and joined a traveling dancers and singers clan. Hassan was born harelipped. Amir’s father sponsored Hassan’s medical operation several years later and Hassan was cured and could talk perfectly.
Amir attended school in a proper time and got complete support, education and accommodations. Hassan and Ali were busy serving Amir’s family. Hassan could not get the opportunity to go to school, like his father (Ali) who has been raised by Amir’s grandfather since his childhood, and did not get an education. Ali and Hassan had one sort of relationship with their masters, but Amir and his father had a different one to their servants.
During the changing and challenging childhood of Amir and Hassan, Hassan performed sacrifices and showed his friendship faithfulness towards Amir. Even Hassan has been sexually offended by Amir’s rival Asif. Amir didn’t do anything and did not defend Hassan. Because of this behavior, Amir is feeling ashamed. On the top of this, he is trying to make a conspiracy to expel Ali and Hassan from their house. Amir hided out his money and his watch under Hassan’s cushion that he received during his birthday party. Amir complains to his father about losing the money and his watch. Later they found them under Hassan’s cushion. Hassan did not defend himself from this charge. Ali and Hassan are compelled to shift to Hazarajat, Bamian.
Agha Saheb and Amir Agha due to social chaos and surrounding turmoil and after changing of several servants, they were also compelled to leave the country to Pakistan and after that into California, the USA. Amir and his father are accepting very harsh jobs during their early years of settlement. Amir’s father has died of cancer and Amir is marrying with an Afghan military general’s daughter. After several years they could not have a child.
Rahim Khan, friend and business partner of Amir’s father is calling from Pakistan to come there. He is sick. Amir is traveling there and after a warm welcome and reception, he is cracking the secret that Hassan is his brother. But Hassan has been killed by Taliban in his house in Kabul. Hassan’s son, Sohrab, is kept by Amir’s rival, Asif in Kabul.
Amir is going to Kabul and finds Sohrab. Asif kept Sohrab as an entertainment monkey for dancing, in a cage. Amir is rescuing Sohrab by fighting with Asif, his enemy, now he is a figure in Taliban government, inside his office in Kabul. During the fight, Amir is getting serious injuries and several ribs have been broken. Sohrab is attacking by his slingshot on Asif and blinds one of his eyes. Finally Amir and Sohrab are making their way to escape from Taliban office outside and then going to Peshawar, Pakistan. In Peshawar, Taliban still are trying to find them in a hospital. Amir and Sohrab are traveling to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. During getting treatment and medication, Amir is getting the US Visa for Sohrab. Amir’s friends and his wife helped him. Finally they are getting to California. Sohrab can not get along with other children easily and Amir and his wife are trying to adjust him in this new environment.
After reading of this novel, some main and general questions may arise, which are:
· The writer of the novel is considering Ali’s religious beliefs, Shi-a, as Ali’s natural characteristics. Ali remained from his parents while he is just five years old. He was raised in a Sunni and Pashtoon family. How he could be a Shi-a by his religion?
· The judge is working in the (past) government and he is a close friend of the assassinated king. Shouldn’t this judgment be affected by this relationship? Why or why not?
· By which authority and constitution, the judge is keeping Ali in his custody as a servant/slave?
· Why has Ali not been handed over to his next of kin?
· Ali’s uncle, where did he come from that he then arranged marriage of his daughter with Ali?
· If Ali is castrated, why is he marrying?
· Whether the writer with such a family, ethnic and religion relationships, did not write or achieved in such a course of enmity and social suppress and injustice in favor of the tyrant kings in Afghanistan?
· Actually this novel has some roots in real life of Afghan multi-cultural society with a sick perception.
· Can the writer get an approval or admiration from a real novel writer?
· Can the writer translate his book in Afghanistan and get the same recommendations and admirations? Never think so.
Further more there could be tens of questions about this novel. Now, with excuse, coy and begging your pardon, here are some excerpts from the text of the novel for the judgment of impartial readers to evaluate writer’s honesty, psychology, stances, chastity and style of ethic measures according to Afghan society and diasporas around the world.
Page 6 and 7;
It was in that small shack that Hassan’s mother, Sanaubar, gave birth to him one cold winter day in 1964. While his mother hemorrhaged to death during childbirth, Hassan lost his less than a week after he was born. Lost her to a fate most Afghans considered far worse than death. She ran off with a clan of traveling singers and dancer.
One day, we were walking from my father’s house to Cinema Zainab for a new Iranian movie, taking the shortcut through the military barracks near Istiqlal Middle School-Baba had forbidden us to take that shortcut, but he was in Pakistan with Rahim Khan at the time. We hopped the fence that surrounded the barracks, skipped over a little creek, and broke into the open dirt field where old, abandoned tanks collected dust. A group of soldiers huddled in the shade of one of those tanks, smoking cigarettes and playing cards. One of them saw us, elbowed the guy next to him, and called Hassan.
“Hey, you!” he said. “I know you.”
We had never seen him before. He was a squatty man with a shaved head and black stubble on his face. The way he grinned at us, leered, scared me. “Just keep walking,” I muttered to Hassan.
“You! The Hazara! Look at me when I’m talking to you!” the soldier barked He handed his cigarette to the guy next to him, made a circle with the thumb and index finger of one hand. Poked the middle finger of his other hand through the circle. Poked it in and out. In and out. “I knew your mother, did you know that? I knew her real good. I took her from behind by that creek over there.”
The soldiers laughed. One of them made a squealing sound. I told Hassan to keep walking, keep walking.
“What a tight little sugary cunt she had!”
(This is not a good style of writing in Afghanistan, especially those books which are published for all genders and ages. Can the writer live prosperously amongst the multi-ethnic society of Kabul with this kind of writing? This style of writing never been used publicly in Afghanistan. narrator)
the soldier was saying, shaking hands with the others, grinning. Later, in the dark, after the movie had started, I heard Hassan next to me, croaking. Tears were sliding down his cheeks. I reached across my seat, slung my arm around him, pulled him close. He rested his head on my shoulder. “He took you for someone else,” I whispered. “He took you for someone else.”
(If somebody tells Amir that you are right, completely right, the soldier had taken Hassan for someone else. Because, according to the writer’s depiction, a Hazara woman with flat nose, narrow eyes, round face like Chinese doll, with no make-ups and good dressing, can not attract or invoke sexual desire of a man. The soldier ought to tell Amir, not Hassan! Can you feel comfort? Actually what is the urgency or importance of depicting a stage like this in a novel generally published for entire public including children, youth girls and boys, women and men, adults and elders? The writer doesn’t know that touching on these sensitive, tumult, and seditious points are not in benefit of any body on the bases of differences of ethnic, religion, linguistics, regional at this time. Fanning these kinds of differences only are pouring water to the mill of the enemies of Afghanistan integrity, progress, development, and peaceful co-existence of all ethnics and tribes residing in motherland. Afghanistan, in the last quarter of century, has paid great price of almost two millions sacrifices and millions of disabled and refugees around the world from all ethnic groups including Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmans, Pasha-ees, Hindos and etc., and destruction of all infrastructures. They all firmly and bravely stood and resisted against the super power invader, internal and external regional enemies of integrity, peace, progress, justice and independence. There are instances of disintegrations of countries into parts during this period around the world. Afghanistan issue is one the most complex and sophisticated global economic-political paradox of the modern time. In spite of all these complexity, she remained intact due to the richness and historic culture of that territory. Whether depicting such a fascistic, seditious, schism, contemptible, enthusiastic irritations of a nation are not unfair and oppressive?!
All Afghans know this that military service for ordinary citizens were two years. When Amir and Hassan wanted to go to see a movie alone, how old should they be at that time? At least ten years, right? How that soldier served at least eleven years in that particular military unit and knew Hassan which he is the son of that woman (Sanaubar) that he sexually offended, next to that creek? According to the novel, Sanaubar has fled home after five days of Hassan’s birth and joined the traveling singers and dancers (Jatts or Kochies) clan. Whether, medically, is she able to those kinds of activities? Bringing these kinds of events is the writer’s particular Realism or Romantism?? The writer is claiming that his novel is not the kind of novels that one can see in Indian films. Justly, the writer is right; this is not like Indian films that could be evaluated according to the values and measures of a school of literature. Mr. Writer! Have you seen Anchor, Sadgathi, Lagaan, Khamoshi, Yogporosh, Wajood, Kohram and Gholam-e Mostafa of Nana Patekar? All Indian movies are not defendable though.
Those who studied in a school in Kabul know that there was no Istiqlal middle school in Kabul or in whole Afghanistan. There was Istiqlal high school near Arg (Presidential palace) in Kabul. If writer means Istiqlal high school and not Istiqlal middle school, this high school shifted in a military barrack in Shirpoor during building construction of the school. But the military barrack has been relocated to other place around Kabul. Military personnel know that there were no tanks and barrack at that time at all. Whether this is also the writer’s special Realism/Romantism?
In page 9;
“Hey, Babalu, who did you eat today?” they barked to a chorus of laughter. “Who did you eat, you flat-nosed Babalu?” They called him “flat-nosed” because of Ali and Hassan’s characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants, and that they looked a little like Chinese people. School textbooks barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing. Then one day, I was in Baba’s study, looking through his stuff, when I found one of my mother’s old history books. It was written by an Iranian named Khorami. I blew the dust off it, sneaked it into bed with me that night, and was stunned to find an entire chapter on Hazara history. An entire chapter dedicated to Hassan’s people! In it, I read that my people, the Pashtoons, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtoons in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtoons had “quelled them with unspeakable violence.” The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women. The book said part of the reason Pashtoons had oppressed the Hazaras was that Pashtoons were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi’a. The book said a lot of things I didn’t know, things my teachers hadn’t mentioned. Things Baba hadn’t mentioned either. It also said some things I did know, like that people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys. I had heard some of the kids in the neighborhood yell those names to Hassan.
Excellency the writer, how knowledgeable is you about Afghanistan Hazaras now? What kind of academic researches did you performed and how did you articulate this dark spot of the human tragedy in the history of Afghanistan? Can you refer us to your articulated articles? You just repeated those atrocities once again to make permanent to the memories of those which don’t know about these injustices and oppressions and history of Afghanistan.
Page 9 and 10;
The following week, after class, I showed the book to my teacher and pointed to the chapter on the Hazaras. He skimmed through a couple of pages, snickered, handed the book back. “That’s the one thing Shi’a people do well,” he said, picking up his papers, “passing themselves as martyrs.” He wrinkled his nose when he said the word Shi’a, like it was some kind of disease.
And later we read;
the moment Sanaubar had given birth to Hassan. It had been a simple enough affair. No obstetricians, no anesthesiologists, no fancy monitoring devices. Just Sanaubar lying on a stained, naked mattress with Ali and a midwife helping her. She hadn’t needed much help at all, because, even in birth, Hassan was true to his nature: He was incapable of hurting anyone. A few grunts, a couple of pushes, and out came Hassan. Out he came smiling. As confided to a neighbor’s servant by the garrulous midwife, who had then in turn told anyone who would listen, Sanaubar had taken one glance at the baby in Ali’s arms, seen the cleft lip, and barked a bitter laughter. “There,” she had said. “Now you have your own idiot child to do all your smiling for you!” She had refused to even hold Hassan, and just five days later, she was gone.
Don’t know whether the writer himself was witnessed those events in his one year age or some body reported to him? Maybe this is a new kind of Romantism? The translation of very famous song in Afghanistan is just incorrect.
On a high mountain I stood,
And crie’d the name of Ali, Lion of God.
O Ali, Lion of God, King of Men,
Bring joy to our sorrowful hearts.
It took three years to build the orphanage. I was eight by then. I remember the day before the orphanage opened, Baba took me to Ghargha Lake, a few miles north of Kabul.
The writer is not familiar to Kabul map and geography, Qargha Lake, not Ghargha Lake, is located in the west part of Kabul not north of Kabul. Maybe there is Ghargha Lake undiscovered in Kabul so far. Great discovery! I suggest that lake to be named after the inventor of the lake, Khalid Lake!
The biggest prize of all was still flying. I sliced a bright yellow kite with a coiled white tail.
Kite runners know that the kind of kites which are fighters in Kabul, don’t have coiled tails! Do you know in what season and which direction the wind blow in Kabul?
Finally, I had my kite in hand. I wrapped the loose string that had collected at my feet around the spool, shook a few more hands, and trotted home. When I reached the wrought-iron gates, Ali was waiting on the other side. He stuck his hand through the bars. “Congratulations,” he said.
1 gave him my kite and spool, shook his hand. “Tashakor, Ali jan.”
“I was praying for you the whole time.”
“Then keep praying. We’re not done yet.”
I hurried back to the street. I didn’t ask Ali about Baba. 1 didn’t want to see him yet. In my head, I had it all planned: I’d make a grand entrance, a hero, prized trophy in my bloodied hands.
Heads would turn and eyes would lock. Rostam and Sohrab sizing, each other up. A dramatic moment of silence. Then the old warrior would walk to the young one, embrace him, acknowledge his Worthiness. Vindication. Salvation. Redemption. And then? Well… happily ever after, of course. What else?
What a wrong and un-appropriated analogy and misusing of rich mythology? Greatness, Firmness, Confidentiality, Clearness, Faithfulness, Honesty, Respectfulness, Sacrifice, Bravery, Magnanimity, Humanity and … depicted from Rostam and Sohrab in Shah-Nama don’t have least rational and relation with Amir and his father. Adopting those characteristics and attaching to them is just unfair and irrelevant. Where were Rostam and Sohrab and where are Amir and his father?
Four streets south of ours, I saw Omar, the son of an engineer who was a friend of Baba’s. He was dribbling a soccer ball with his brother on the front lawn of their house. Omar was a pretty good guy. We’d been classmates in fourth grade, and one time he’d given me a fountain pen, the kind you had to load with a cartridge. “I heard you won, Amir,” he said. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks. Have you seen Hassan?”
Omar headed the ball to his brother. “I hear he’s a great kite runner.” His brother headed the ball back to him. Omar caught it, tossed it up and down. “Although I’ve always wondered how he manages. I mean, with those tight little eyes, how does he see anything?”
His brother laughed, a short burst, and asked for the baIl.
Omar ignored him.
“Have you seen him?”
Omar flicked a thumb over his shoulder, pointing southwest.
“I saw him running toward the bazaar awhile ago.”
“Thanks.” I scuttled away.
By the time I reached the marketplace, the sun had almost sunk behind the hills and-dusk had painted the sky pink and purple. A few blocks away, from the Haji Yaghoub Mosque, the mullah bellowed azan, calling for the faithful to unroll their rugs and bow their heads west in prayer. Hassan never missed any of the five daily prayers. Even when we were out playing, he’d excuse himself, draw water from the well in the yard, wash up, and disappear into the hut. He’d come out a few minutes later, smiling, find me sitting against the wall or perched on a tree. He was going to miss prayer tonight, though, because of me.
The bazaar was emptying quickly, the merchants finishing up their haggling for the day. I trotted in the mud between rows of closely packed cubicles where you could buy a freshly slaughtered pheasant in one stand and a calculator from the adjacent one. I picked my way through the dwindling crowd, the lame beggars dressed in layers of tattered rags, the vendors with rugs on their shoulders, the cloth merchants and butchers closing shop for the day. I found no sign of Hassan.
I stopped by a dried fruit stand, described Hassan to an old merchant loading his mule with crates of pine seeds and raisins. He wore a powder blue turban.
He paused to look at me for a long time before answering.
“I might have seen him.”
“Which way did he go?”
He eyed me up and down. “What is a boy like you doing here at this time of the day looking for a Hazara?”
In the brotherly, friendly, cordial relationship of all ethnic groups and tribes residing in Afghanistan at that time, depicting such an improper relationship on the bases of such discriminatory manner is just unfair and incorrect. At that time, all people were living very peacefully. Even during the darkest time of Taliban, we have real examples of salvages that one could enjoy and energize for life. And later we read;
“I need to find him, Agha.”
“What is he to you?” he said. I didn’t see the point of his question, but I reminded myself that impatience wasn’t going to make him tell me any faster.
“He’s our servant’s son,” I said.
The old man raised a pepper gray eyebrow. “He is? Lucky Hazara, having such a concerned master. His father should get on his knees, sweep the dust at your feet with his eyelashes.”
“Are you going to tell me or not?”
He rested an arm on the mule’s back, pointed south. “I think I saw the boy you described running that way. He had a kite in his hand. A blue one.”
“He did?” I said. For you a thousand times over, he’d promised. Good old Hassan. Good old reliable Hassan. He’d kept his promise and run the last kite for me.
“Of course, they’ve probably caught him by now,” the old merchant said, grunting and loading another box on the mule’s back.
“The other boys,” he said. “The ones chasing him. They were dressed like you.” He glanced to the sky and sighed. “Now, run along, you’re making me late for namaz.”
But I was already scrambling down the lane.
For the next few minutes, I scoured the bazaar in vain. Maybe the old merchant’s eyes had betrayed him. Except he’d seen the blue kite. The thought of getting my hands on that kite. . . I poked my head behind every lane, every shop. No sign of Hassan.
I had begun to worry that darkness would fall before I found Hassan when I heard voices from up ahead. I’d reached a secluded, muddy road. It ran perpendicular to the end of the main thoroughfare bisecting the bazaar. I turned onto the rutted track and followed the voices. My boot squished in mud with every step and my breath puffed out in white clouds before me. The narrow path ran parallel on one side to a snow-filled ravine through which a stream may have tumbled in the spring. To my other side stood rows of snow-burdened cypress trees peppered among flat-topped clay houses-no more than mud shacks in most cases-separated by narrow alleys.
I heard the voices again, louder this time, coming from one of the alleys. I crept close to the mouth of the alley. Held my breath. Peeked around the corner.
Hassan was standing at the blind end of the alley in a defiant stance: fists curled, legs slightly apart. Behind him, sitting on piles of scrap and rubble, was the blue kite. My key to Baba’s heart.
Blocking Hassan’s way out of the alley were three boys, the same three from that day on the hill, the day after Daoud Khan’s coup, when Hassan had saved us with his slingshot. Wali was standing on one side, Kamal on the other, and in the middle, Assef. I felt my body clench up, and something cold rippled up my spine. Assef seemed relaxed, confident. He was twirling his brass knuckles. The other two guys shifted nervously on their feet, looking from Assef to Hassan, like they’d cornered some kind of wild animal that only Assef could tame.
“Where is your slingshot, Hazara?” Assef said, turning the brass knuckles in his hand. “What was it you said? ‘They’ll have to call you One-Eyed Assef.’ That’s right. One-Eyed Assef. That was clever. Really clever. Then again, it’s easy to be clever when you’re holding a loaded weapon.” I realized I still hadn’t breathed out. I exhaled, slowly, quietly. I felt paralyzed. I watched them close in on the boy I’d grown up with, the boy whose harelipped face had been my first memory.
“But today is your lucky day, Hazara,” Assef said. He had his back to me, but I would have bet he was grinning. “I’m in a mood to forgive. What do you say to that, boys?”
“That’s generous,” Kamal blurted, “Especially after the rude
manners he showed us last time.” He was trying to sound like Assef, except there was a tremor in his voice. Then I understood: He wasn’t afraid of Hassan, not really. He was afraid because he had no idea what Assef had in mind.
Assef waved a dismissive hand. “Bakhshida. Forgiven. It’s done.” His voice dropped a little. “Of course, nothing is free in this world, and my pardon comes with a small price.”
“That’s fair,” Kamal said.
“Nothing is free,” Wali added.
“You’re a lucky Hazara,” Assef said, taking a step toward Hassan. “Because today, it’s only going to cost you that blue kite. A fair deal, boys, isn’t it?”
“More than fair,” Kamal said.
Even from where I was standing, I could see the fear creeping into Hassan’s eyes, but he shook his head. “Amir agha won the tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly. This is his kite.”
“A loyal Hazara. Loyal as a dog,” Assef said.
Kamal’s laugh was a shrill, nervous sound.
“But before you sacrifice yourself for him, think about this:
Would he do the same for you? Have you ever wondered why he never includes you in games when he has guests? Why he only plays with you when no one else is around? I’ll tell you why, Hazara. Because to him, you’re nothing but an ugly pet. Something he can play with when he’s bored, something he can kick when he’s angry. Don’t ever fool yourself and think you’re something more.”
“Amir agha and I are friends,” Hassan said. He looked flushed. “Friends?” Assef said, laughing. “You pathetic fool! Someday you’ll wake up from your little fantasy and learn just how good of a friend he is. Now, bas! Enough of this. Give us that kite.”
Hassan stooped and picked up a rock.
Assef flinched. He began to take a step back, stopped. “Last chance, Hazara.”
Hassan’s answer was to cock the arm that held the rock.
“Whatever you wish.” Assef unbuttoned his winter coat, took it off, folded it slowly and deliberately. He placed it against the wall. I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t. I just watched. Paralyzed. Assef motioned with his hand, and the other two boys separated, forming a half circle, trapping Hassan in the alley.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Assef said. “I’m letting you keep the
kite, Hazara. I’ll let you keep it so it will always remind you of what I’m about to do.”
Then he charged. Hassan hurled the rock. It struck Assef in
the forehead. Assef yelped as he flung himself at Hassan, knock
ing him to the ground. Wali and Kamal followed.
I bit on my fist. Shut my eyes.
A havoc of scrap and rubble littered the alley. Worn bicycle tires, bottles with peeled labels, ripped up magazines, yellowed newspapers, all scattered amid a pile of bricks and slabs of cement. A rusted cast-iron stove with a gaping hole on its side tilted against a wall. But there were two things amid the garbage that I couldn’t stop looking at: One was the blue kite resting against the wall, close to the cast-iron stove; the other was Hassan’s brown corduroy pants thrown on a heap of eroded bricks.
“I don’t know,” Wali was saying. “My father says it’s sinful” He sounded unsure, excited, scared, all at the same time. Hassan lay with his chest pinned to the ground. Kamal and Wali each gripped an arm, twisted and bent at the elbow so that Hassan’s hands were pressed to his back. Assef was standing over them, the heel of his snow boots crushing the back of Hassan’s neck.
“Your father won’t find out,” Assef said. “And there’s nothing sinful about teaching a lesson to a disrespectful donkey.”
“I don’t know,” Wali muttered.
“Suit yourself,” Assef said. He turned to Kamal. “What about you?”
“It’s just a Hazara,” Assef said. But Kamal kept looking away. “Fine,” Assef snapped. “All I want you weaklings to do is hold him down. Can you manage that?”
Wali and Kamal nodded. They looked relieved. Assef knelt behind Hassan, put his hands on Hassan’s hips and lifted his bare buttocks. He kept one hand on Hassan’s back and undid his own belt buckle with his free hand. He unzipped his jeans. Dropped his underwear. He positioned himself behind Bassan. Hassan didn’t struggle. Didn’t even whimper. He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb.
This scene has been repeated several times in this book. It seems that he had the opportunity to read Hassan’s situation from his face and the other time he can see Asif’s buttock and its muscles’ movement and his voice undulation and stimulation. Actually, all of his efforts concentrated for depicting such an unreal sexual offense is to get financial benefit and shows blind prejudice and intolerance according to his doxological and tribal supremacy. This would result only to more hate, repulsion, grievance, insulting and despising between Pashtoon and Hazara ethnic groups.
I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles. I realized something else. I was weeping. From just around the corner, I could hear Assef’s quick, rhythmic grunts.
I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan-the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past-and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run.
In the end, I ran.
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what
he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. That’s what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Hassan. That’s what I made myself believe. I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?
I ran back the way I’d come. Ran back to the all but deserted bazaar. I lurched to a cubicle and leaned against the padlocked Swinging doors. I stood there panting, sweating, wishing things had turned out some other way.
About fifteen minutes later, I heard voices and running footfalls. I crouched behind the cubicle and watched Assef and the other two sprinting by, laughing as they hurried down the deserted lane. I forced myself to wait ten more minutes. Then I walked back to the rutted track that ran along the snow-filled ravine. I squinted in the dimming light and spotted Hassan walking slowly toward me. I met him by a leafless birch tree on the edge of the ravine.
He had the blue kite in his hands; that was the first thing I saw. And I can’t lie now and say my eyes didn’t scan it for any rips. His chapan had mud smudges down the front and his shirt Was ripped just below the collar. He stopped. Swayed on his feet like he was going to collapse. Then he steadied himself. Handed me the kite.
“Where were you? I looked for you,” I said. Speaking those words was like chewing on a rock.
Hassan dragged a sleeve across his face, wiped snot and tears. I waited for him to say something, but we just stood there in silence, in the fading light. I was grateful for the early-evening shadows that fell on Hassan’s face and concealed mine. I was glad I didn’t have to return his gaze. Did he know I knew? And if he knew, then what would I see if I did look in his eyes? Blame? Indignation? Or, God forbid, what I feared most: guileless devotion? That, most of all, I couldn’t bear to see.
He began to say something and his voice cracked. He closed his mouth, opened it, and closed it again. Took a step back. Wiped his face. And that was as close as Hassan and I ever came to dis’ cussing what had happened in the alley. I thought he might burst into tears, but, to my relief, he didn’t, and I pretended I hadn’t heard the crack in his voice. Just like I pretended I hadn’t seen the dark stain in the seat of his pants. Or those tiny drops that fell from between his legs and stained the snow black.
“Agha sahib will worry,” was all he said. He turned from me and limped away.
It happened just the way I’d imagined. I opened the door to the smoky study and stepped in. Baba and Rahim Khan were drinking tea and listening to the news crackling on the radio. Their heads turned. Then a smile played on my father’s lips. He opened his arms. I put the kite down and walked into his thick hairy arms. I buried my face in the warmth of his chest and wept. Baba held me close to him, rocking me back and forth. In his arms, I forgot what I’d done. And that was good.
This is a fiction story, but please read the psychology of doxology and supremacy of one ethnic group and degrading, insulting and blotting of the other ethnic group!!!
After the reading of the story, the conclusions and characteristics remaining in memories on the bases of this book, would be as follows:
Master Family: Sayed, Pashtoon, Sunni (religion)
Servant/Slave Family : casual, Hazara, Shi-a (religion)
Amir: loves his mother and try to remember her with pride, good student, good writer, handsome, visionary, knowledgeable, smart, polite, son of his father (legitimate), concerned, responsible, caretaker, coward, liar and exceptional
Hassan: doesn’t care about his mother, illiterate, damaged, not confident on him-self, alienated, reliable and honest to his master, obedient, property of his master, defenseless, dependant, oppressed, selfless, faithful, he is not son of his father, Ali, (illegitimate), rootless
Amir’s Father: (Toofan Agha means Master Storm, due to paying respect even his name not mentioned once ), powerful, wrestler, tall, strong, brave, wealthy, famous, handsome, generous, merchant, respectful, compassionate, benevolent, superior, independent, glorious, graceful, pertaining to a big and honorable family, modern-minded, doesn’t care about the ethical, social and religious measures, exceptional
Hassan’s Father: Ali, Babalou (bogyman), disabled, castrated, weak, servant, dependent, awful (even he can not laugh), Koran reciter
Amir’s Mother: Mrs. Sophia Akrami, literature professor, educated and best woman, belongs to a big and honorable family, beautiful, graceful, glorious, chaste, exceptional
Hassan’s Mother: Sanaubar, uneducated, whore, unfaithful to her husband, dancer and singer (very bad reputation in Afghanistan), doesn’t like her child and her husband
Amir’s Grandfather: famous, judge, reach, politician, had connections with king
Hassan’s Grandfather: not mentioned and had been killed in a traffic accident and paid least attention by Amir’s grandfather, the judge and administration
Events development does not accord with places and times in “The Kite Runner”. They are contradicting and interferential. The writer repeated and injected scenes whenever he wanted to convincing and memorizing the readers for accuracy and correctness. If readers paying more attention into the course of the novel, soonest will find the conflicts and will know the private motives and depth of the writer’s disposition.
In “The Kite Runner”, actually the scenes, events, places and times controlled by the writer. In spite, these elements should develop by its internal laws and the struggle and logical resolution, and resulting to the logical scenarios.
In this novel, the writer knowingly or unknowingly is salting the chronological fistula wounds of socio-cultural conflicts of Afghanistan, and proclaims and keeps the ill relationship and proportion of the tyrant conflicting apparatus of the previous social and historical orders.
Writer’s positioning in the scenes and events, always been for irritation, degrading and misleading. But tries to keep the medians “na seekh besooza, nay kabob (burning nor skewer neither the meat)”. Speaking both conflicting sides reached to justice and ethical, psychological and social balance and intactness.
Naming the book “The Kite Runner”, it is like a cheating from a very famous and popular short story written by a very famous master of literature of Afghanistan. The writer knows this matter very well by him-self. “The Kite Runner” name doesn’t accord with the course of the story. It should be named “The real man and coward” though.
After reading novel of “The Kite Runner”, general image and final results which remain in memories of non-Afghan readers which know little about the many aspects about Afghanistan would be not realistic, incorrect and misleading with private motives. These images and results are not according the realities of the Afghanistan culture and society. This novel became the best seller book of the year in the USA; it means that most Americans got all these mishaps and misleading information. This is not the message of real novel to a society. Aren’t we live in a time that the number of good readers is less then the number of good writers?
After all these evaluations, I, as an ordinary reader of the book, cordially apologize from all those have read the book and would like to say that this book is not a good sample of Afghanistan real literature. Afghanistan is a country that there is no luck of good and competent professionals and caretakers in every walk of knowledge, but unfortunately there are some selfish private motivated predirectors with support of the much known institutions coming forward. They have their dirty and blotting messages to propagate around the world and there are some ones responsibilities to enlighten and articulate the essence of the dirty private motives. This would be unfair to misuse the freedom of press to expressing and propagating hates amongst the nations and tribes.