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The Kite Runner

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THE KITE RUNNER
One December 2001 I became what I am today at the age of twelve,on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.I remember the precise moment ,crouching behind a crumbing mud wall,peeking into the alley near the frozen creek.That was a long time ago,but it’s wrong what they say about the past,I’ve learned,about how you can bury it .Because the past claws its way out.Looking back now.I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years. One day last summer,my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan.He asked me to come to see him.Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear,I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line.It was my past of unatoned sins.After I hung up ,I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern edge of Golden Gate Park.The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature boats sailed,propelled by a crisp breeze.Then I glanced up and saw a pair of kites,red with long blue tails,soaring in the sky.They danced high above the trees on the west end of the park,over the windmills,floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco,the city I now call home.And suddenly Hassan’s voice whispered in my head:For you,a thousand times over.Hassan the harelipped kite runner. I sat on a park bench near a willow tree.I thought about something Rahim Khan said just before he hung up,almost as an afterthought .There is a way to be good again.I looked up at those twin kites.I thought about Hasaan.Thought about Baba.Ali.Kabul.I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything.And made me what I am today.
Two
When we were children,Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of my father’s house and annoy our neighbor 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.I can still see Hassan up on that tree,sunlight flickering thought the leaves on his almost round face,a face like Chinese doll chiseled from hardwood:his flat,board nose and slanting,narrow eyes like bamboo leaves,eyes that looked,depending on the light,gold,green,even sapphire.I can still see his tiny low-set ears and that pointed stub of a chin,a meaty appendage that looked like it was added as a mere afterthought.And the cleft lip,just left of midline,where the Chinese doll maker’s instrument may have slipped,or perhaps he had simply grown tired and careless. Sometimes.up in those trees,I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor’s one-eyed German shepherd.Hassan never wanted to,but if I asked,really asked,he wouldn’t deny me.Hassan never denied me anything.And he was deadly with his slingshot.Hassan’s father,Ali,used to catch us and get mad,or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get.He wold wag his finger and wave us down form the tree.He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him,that the devil shone mirrors too,shone them to distract Muslims during prayer.“And he laughs while he does it,”he always added,scowling at his son. “Yes,Father,”Hassan would mumble,looking down at his feet.But he never told on me.Never told that mirror,liking shooting walnuts at the neighbor’s dog,was always my idea. The poplar trees lined the redbrick driveway,which led to a pair of wrought-iron gates.They in turn opened into an extension of the driveway into my father’s estate.The house sat on the left side of the brick path,the backyard at the end of it. Everyone agreed that my father,my Baba,had built the most beautiful house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district,a new and affluent neighborhood in the northern part of Kabul.Some thought it was the prettiest house in all of Kabul.A board entryway flanked by rosebushes led to the sprawling house of marble floors and wide windows.Intricate mosaic tiles,handpicked by Baba in Isfahan,cover the floors of the four bathrooms.Gold-stitched tapestries,which Baba had bought in Calcutta,lined the walls;a crystal chandelier hung from the vaulted ceiling. Upstairs was my bedroom,Baba’s room,and his study,also known as “the smoking room,”which perpetually smelled of tobacco and cinnamon.Baba and his friends reclined on black leather chairs there after Ali had served dinner.They stuffed their pipes--except Baba always called it”fattening the pipe”--and discussed their favorite three topics:politics,business,soccer.Sometimes I asked Baba if I could sit with them,but Baba would stand in the doorway.”Go on,now,”he’d say.”This is grown-ups’ time.Why don’t you go read one of those books of yours?”He’d close the door,leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups’ time with him.I’d sit by the door,knees drawn to my chest.Sometimes I sat there for an hour,sometimes two,listening to their laughter,their chatter. The living room downstairs had a curved wall with custom-built cabinets.Inside sat framed family pictures:an old,grainy photo of my grandfather and King Nadir Shah taken in 1931,two years before the king’s assassination;they are standing over a dead deer,dressed in knee-high boots,rifles slung over their shoulders.There was a picture of my parents’ wedding night,Baba dashing in his black suit and my mother a smiling young princess in white.Here was Baba and his best friend and business partner,Rahim Khan,standing outside our house,neither one smiling--I am a baby in that photograph and Baba is holding me,looking tired and grim.I’m an his arms,but it’s Rahim Khan’s pinky my fingers are curled around. The curved wall led into the dining room,at the center of which was a mahogany table that could easily sit thirty guests--and,given my father’s taste for extravagant parties,it did just that almost every week.On the other end of the dining room was a tall marble fireplace,always lit by the orange glow of a fire in the wintertime. A large sliding glass door opened into a semicircular terrace that overlooked two acres of backyard and rows of cherry trees.Baba and Ali had planted a small vegetable garden along the eastern wall:tomatoes,mint,peppers,and a row of corn that never really took.Hassan and I used to call it”the Wall of Ailing Corn.” On the south end of the garden,in the shadows of a loquat tree,was the servants’ home,a modest little mud hut where Hassan lived with his father. It was there,in that little shack,that Hassan was born in the winter of 1964,just one year after my mother died giving birth to me. In the eighteen years that I lived in that house,I stepped into Hassan and Ali’s quarters only a handful of times.When the sun dropped low behind the hills and we were done playing for the day,Hassan and I parted ways.I went past the rosebushes to Baba’s mansion,Hassan to the mud shack where he had been born,where he’d lived his entire life.I remember t was spare,clean,dimly lit by a pair of kerosene lamps.There were two mattresses on opposite sides of the room,a worn Herati rug with frayed edges in between,a three-legged stool,and a wooden table in the corner where Hassan did his drawings.The wall stood bare,save for a single tapestry with sewn-in beads forming the words Allah-u-akbar.Baba had bought it for Ali on one of his trips to Mashad. It was in that small shack that Hassa’s mother,Sanaubar,gave birth to him one cold winter day in 1964,While my 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 dancers. Hassan never talked about his mother,as if she’d never existed.I always wondered if he dreamed about her,about what she looked like,where she was.I wondered if he longed to meet her.Did he ache for her,the way I ached for the mother I had never met?One day,we were walking from my father’s house to Cinema Zainab for a new Iranian movie,talking 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 know 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!”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 for you for someone else,”I whispered.“He took you for someone else.” I’m told no one was really surprised when Sanaubar eloped.People had raised their eyebrows when Ali,a man who had memorized the Koran,married Sanaubar,a woman nineteen years younger,a beautiful bit notoriously unscrupulous woman who lived up to her dishonorable reputation.Like Ali,she was a Shiá Muslim and an ethnic Hazara.She was also his first cousin and therefore a natural choice for a spouse.But beyond those similarities,Ali and Sanaubar had little in common,least of all their respective appearances.While Sanaubar’s brilliant green eyes and impish face had,rumor has it,tempted countless men into sin,Ali had a congenital paralysis of his lower facial muscles,a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grim-faced,It was an odd thing to see the stone-faced Ali happy,or sad,because only his slanted brown eyes glinted with a smile or welled with sorrow.People say that eyes are windows to the soul.Never was that more true than with Ali,who could only reveal himself through his eyes. I have heard that Sanaubar’s suggestive stride and oscillating hips sent men to reveries of infidelity.But polio had left Ali with a twisted,atrophied right leg that was sallow skin over bone with little in between except a paper-thin layer of muscle.I remember one day,when I was eight,Ali was taking me to the bazaar to buy some naan.I was walking behind him,humming,trying to imitate his walk.I watched him swing his scraggy leg in a sweeping arc,watched his whole body tilt impossibility to the right every time he planted hat foot.It seemed a minor miracle he didn’t tip over with each step.When I turned around,caught ma aping him.He didn’t say anything.Not then,not ever.He just kept walking. Ali’s face and his walk frightened some of the younger children in the neighborhood,But the real trouble was with the older kids.They chased him on the street,and mocked him when he hobbled by.Some had taken to calling him babalu,or Boogeyman.“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 at 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 Pashtuns,had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras.It said the Hazarashad tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century,but the Pashtuns 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 Pashtuns had oppressedthe Hazaras was that Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims,while Hazaras were Shiá.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. 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. But despite sharing ethnic heritage and family blood,heard that she made no secret of her disdain for his appearance. “This is a husband?”she would sneer.“I have seen old donkeys better suited to be a husband.” In the end,most people suspected the marriage had been an arrangement of sorts between Ali and his uncle,Sanaubar’s father.They said Ali had married his cousin to help restore some honor to his uncle’s blemished name,even though Ali,who had been orphaned to speak of. Ali never retaliated against any of his tormentors,I suppose party because he could never catch them with that twisted leg dragging behind him.But mostly because Ali was immune to the insults of his assarlants;he had found his joy,his antiodote,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,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. Baba hired the same nursing woman who had fed me to nurse Hassan.Ali told us she was a blue-eyed Hazara woman from Bamiyan,the city of the giant Buddha statues.“What a sweet singing voice she had,”he used to say to us. What did she sing,Hassan and I always asked,though we already knew--Ali had told us countless times.We just wanted to hear Ali sing. He’d clear his throat and begin: On a high mountain I stood, And cried the name of Ali,Lion of God. O Ali,Lion of God,King of Men,
‘ Bring joy to our sorrowful hearts. Then he would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast,a kinship that not even time could break. Hassan and I fed from the same breasts.We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard.And,under the same roof,we spoke our first words. Mine was Baba. His was Amir.My name. Looking back on it now,I think the foundation for what happened in the winter of 1975--and all that followed--was already laid in those first words.

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...Book Review of ‘The Kite Runner’ “For you, a thousand times over”, this sentence said by Hassan to Amir has been on my mind since I finished reading the novel. The story took place in the 70s in Afghanistan. Amir was a child of a wealthy family and Hassan was the son of Amir family`s servant, Ali. They played and grew up together; the strong friendship bonded them like brothers. As can be seen from the novel and the sentence at the beginning, Hassan was willing to do anything for Amir whenever Amir encountered any troubles. Nevertheless, Amir made a terrible mistake when he watched and stood by, while Hassan was raped by Assef after winning the unprecedented grand kite game. In order to drive Hassan out of the house, Amir put his watch under Hassan`s pillow, implying that Hassan had stolen it. When Russia invaded Afghanistan, Amir left his hometown with his father and fled to Pakistan. In 1988, Amir and his family/father had a nice life when Amir graduated, having attended a public college in California. Afterwards Amir became a famous novelist. However, Amir suffered agonies of remorse as he could not forgive himself for his unatoned sin for betraying Hassan. At the end, Amir started his journey of redemption and came back to his home town and saved Sohrab (son of Hassan) from the Taliban after he received a phone call from Rahim Khan. The characters of this novel feel real because it is a biography of the author. The destiny of Hassan was miserable, not only was he......

Words: 1038 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Kite Runner

...English A The Kite Runner Ending the Cycle of Violence The movie I chose was The Kite Runner along with the theme “There is a way to be good again.” I will be focusing on the character of Amir and how he uses forgiveness to move on from his past and to end the violence. He shows this through many ways throughout the movie with different people. Amir had a tough childhood in many ways but also was very privileged. He had challenges being friends with Hassan. They were from two different social classes and Amir got teased and ridiculed because of it. When things got tough Amir froze Hassan out. For example when Hassan was physically assaulted. Finally Amir and his dad left altogether when there home got taken over by soldiers after the fall of the Monarchy in Afghanistan. Amir was so guilt tripped for leaving his friend, in the movie he takes us on his journey of how he finds forgiveness and gives forgiveness to move on from his violent past. Amir does not try to contact Hassan when he left, trying to push it behind him but the guilt is too much and he is curious to what happened to his friend. He becomes a successful writer and takes a trip back to his home and finds out Hassan was killed when things got dangerous. Amir sets off to right his wrongs and starts with Hassan’s son. He tracks him down in an orphanage and makes a plan to rescue him from the dangers of Kabul. Seeking to do the right thing and right his wrongs from the past. He tries to forgive himself......

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Free Essay

The Kite Runner

...Backstabbing the Ones we Love The book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossein is a book about betrayal. On Dictionary.com the word betrayal is define as to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, fulfilling, or to disappoint the expectation or hope of other. Amir is constantly betraying the ones he loves especially his best friend Hassan one of Amir most loyal and caring friend. Amir throughout the book seems to accept the fact he hurts the ones he loves and even though Amir knows he is in the wrong constantly continues to betray and hurt his only friend Hassan and does these throughout the book. First, Amir betrays Hassan by denying his friendship in the book and being a jerk to him to make himself feel better. Amir betrays Hassan by denying his friendship. In the book Amir was asked if Hassan was his friend but instead of saying yea he just tell them that he is just his servant. This shows how crappy a friend Amir really is and how he is so embarrassed to let people know that Hassan is his friend. A real friend is proud to be your friend and wants people to know. What a betrayal on Hassan and Amir Friendship, a real friend is always your friend no matter what and isn’t your friend just sometimes or whenever he wants. Amir enjoys being a jerk to Hassan to make himself feel better. Amir knows that Hassan can’t read so he makes him feel stupid but making him read a book to show that he is superior to him. Amir also started to throw pomegranates at Hassan just because he is mad...

Words: 885 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Kite Runner

...The Kite Runner: Reader’s Notes Cindy Kang Theme | Literary Device | Character Development | Chapter | Quote | Insight | | Imagery/flashback | | 1 | “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years… One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn’t juts Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins.” (p. 1) | The introduction paragraph gives the reader an insight of the narrator’s haunting past. The narrator uses descriptive words (crumbing mud wall) and is evidently a gifted story teller. The structure of his writing easily grasps the attention of the audience. The tone of the story seems to be frightening and melancholy due to the author’s diction, syntax, and level of formality. The first page mostly consists of flashbacks more so by recalling them rather than reliving them. If flashbacks continue to recur, the past may symbolize an important theme throughout the story. | | Personification | | 1 | “Because the past claws its way......

Words: 3498 - Pages: 14