I am a firm believer that the best thing you can do to better yourself in life is read. Through reading you expand your knowledge, learn empathy and gain hundreds of different experiences from the past, present and future which helps you become a wiser and more rounded person. They are lofty claims, but I really think that a book can be your best teacher. Which is exactly what Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner was for me.
The Kite Runner tells a story of loyalty, betrayal and redemption, through the eyes of a young boy Amir, growing up privileged on the outskirts of Kabul with his friend Hassan. The boys grow up together like brothers, “running kites” and spending every day side by side. However, Amir and Hassan were not equals, Hassan was a servant in Amir’s fathers house.
The boys lives separate after Amir cowardly betrays Hassan and the war forces Amir and his father to flee to America. The one things that Amir’s new home cannot offer him though is redemption and eventually Amir must go back and right the wrongs he committed to his ever loyal friend Hassan.
The backdrop of war in Afghanistan elevates this story from the everyday to the unforgettable. I feel that I probably learned more about Afghanistan and it’s people through this book than I have through a lifetime of news reports. Because that’s what it has been in Afghanistan, nearly a lifetime of conflict, I can’t remember a time when Kabul or al-Qaeda have not been on my radar. Afghanistan has always been a war zone, far off in the Middle East, but this story makes it a country, a home, a place of children and grandparents. I love that this story really takes you to the heart of the Afghani people. The setting is so far from what I know, yet I didn’t feel disconnected at all.
I had a moment after reading Rahim Kahn’s recounting when the Taliban took over Kabul from the Northern Alliance “I actually danced in the street”. It was so harrowing to read of the celebrations this brought, knowing the huge costs the people would pay under the Taliban also. The Northern Alliance, in my limited understanding, was a military front set up to defend against the Taliban in the south. Both factions came up after the Soviet forces left Afghanistan.