Saturday, June 02, 2007

Book Review: The Kite Runner

I just read “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.
This is a poignant story about betrayal. Amir and Hassan grow up together in Afghanistan. Amir is an expert kite flyer and Hassan an expert Kite Runner; someone who runs after the very last kite that is cut by the victorious Kite. Hassan is a Hazara or a lower caste servant who works for Amir but being the same age they are more like two best friends. Something terrible happens to Hassan after a Kite tournament and Amir is too scared to stand up for his friend. He betrays him and their life changes forever.
What I liked the most about this book apart from the wonderful description of Amir and Hassan’s childhood days, is the accurate portrayal of the “Other Side of Betrayal”.
When someone lets you down, betrays you, there are a million different ways to make peace with the insult and humiliation mostly because you know you could not have helped it. This book talks about the other side of betrayal. It talks about the self-doubt, the anger, and the helplessness of the person who betrays his friend.

There are certain lines that we should or should not cross but we unknowingly end up violating these subtle rules. It can be perfectly rationalized later. We amaze ourselves by coming up with perfectly logical explanations for not doing what was instinctively expected of us or for doing something that was not expected of us. At the end of each day however, we know that we crossed the line or stayed back out of cowardice. It becomes all the more difficult when the person who is betrayed by us refuses to retaliate and instead fights his own internal battle to come to terms with it. Then all those cunning explanations just make us lose faith in ourselves. It makes us wonder whether instead of treating our own Ego with an extravagant honor, maybe reaching out honestly to the helpless person and sharing a part of his misery would have made us more honorable.
And the confrontation and apologizing that should probably take a minute or two sometimes takes lifetimes! With every passing day fusing our bones together and making redemption all the more difficult! This book talks about that time, between betrayal and redemption.
It talks volubly about the war in Afghanistan and the unfortunate fates of war-ridden children who end up orphans who are subjected to cruelty in all its elements. It talks about the Taliban after the Russian invasion and the Taliban a few years later. It talks about destabilized minds. It talks about people who flee their homelands and land themselves in countries that may be liberal but leave little or no room for them to live as “Afghans” and the subsequent trauma they go through for having lost their identity.

All along as you read this book, you realize the value of real brave men.
Men who never dishonor their friends, their wives and their children and who stand tall even in guilt than choosing to flee the shadows of their mistakes by making up intelligent explanations. Something that an illiterate Hazara servant, Hassan could do silently in about a week and it took the well read, intelligent, university educated Amir all his life.!
I strongly recommend this book! :)

1 comment:

shirish said...

Ego is the most difficult obstacle in our life. You have rightly said"And the confrontation and apologizing that should probably take a minute or two sometimes takes lifetimes! With every passing day fusing our bones together and making redemption all the more difficult! This book talks about that time, between betrayal and redemption."
It is the ego which causes delays of few seconds or few life times.

I remember the hindi song "Jindagi Ke Safar Main Gujar Jate Hai Jo Makam Wo Fir Nahi Aate Wo Fhir Nahi Aate.

I have not read the book but I could undrstand the crux of the contents through your reveiw.