Apr 19, 2008

Thoughts on Kite Runner: Homeward Bound Kites

i watched the film adaption of khaled hosseini's famous debut novel 'the kite runner' yday & contrary to expectations actually liked the film, a surprise considering the sense of outrage & disappointment that are still alive in my mind whenever i recall reading the book. that a piece of unabashed melodrama that employs every conceivable cliche could become such a bestseller really had me at my wit's end. not that i don't enjoy the occasional light reading, but my chief grouse with TKR was that its success evidenced a host of unpleasant revelations about our society, current literary tastes, its future & the way we like to use hyperboles & confer high praise simply on account of the difficulty an author may have faced in his childhood or the disease he may have been battling while penning a particular saga. even that's discrimination!

anyway, i think one of the greatest reasons the book worked so well is due to the current geopolitical climate where every conflict seems destined to play out in terms of man's eternal search for 'home'. i know none of this is new or has the profundity of the Ten Commandments but that's not how i'd initially read the heartbreaking tale of the upper class pashtun amir's friendship, betrayal & eventual reconciliation (of sorts) with his hazara servant hassan. there is that infinite tenderness & endless longing in the exiled amir's words whenever he evokes pictures of the kebab stalls with their aroma of woodsmoke & burnt lamb that overwhelmed the streets of kabul in the evenings, the first snow fall of the season that embraced the city in its cold yet welcome grasp, & the anxiety, excitement & thrill that one experienced the night before the annual kite flying competition.

reminiscent of an old fashioned morality tale, hassan's betrayal & death mirrors the destruction of the afghan nation. the heartbreak is greater because not only is amir's past an endless series of wrong choices & may-have-been's, but also because the fate is shared by his beloved country too. for the first time i wondered what it would feel like if i were ever to know that i no longer had a home to return to, a country & culture i could call my own, a way of life where i was assured of being understood without the need for endless annotations. shattering doesn't quite cover it.

is this fear what inspires men to challenge the might of nations even at the risk of death? is it this fundamental desire for a home, a place to stake claim to, that lead the tibetan student to end his life in flames as a protest against china's complete disregard for tibet's claims of autonomy? is the desire to claim as rightfully theirs what was forcefully taken from them, at the root of the Palestinian suicide bomber's enormous courage & stoicism?

in a world that gets flatter by the day, we need to seriously address this issue of 'home' for it concerns 'us' as much as 'them'. globalisation & knowledge sharing have brought enormous benefits, especially addressing the problem of higher costs for goods & services, but it hasn't left discontent far behind. thomas friedman in 'the world is flat' offers useful advice to nations & societies to adjust & adapt better in this brave new world where the 'lions' & 'gazelles' play together. the blurring of boundaries is inevitable & has already started. all those who cry for protectionism - be it the jobless voter in america's mid-west or raj thackeray - know they are arguing a lost cause. economic prosperity will outweigh all arguments. however, its time we stopped & took a look at the larger social fragmentation that globalisation has led to, the discontent it breeds amongst those who have had to share their homes & jobswith others. perhaps what we need more urgently is simple text book kindness to make way in our hearts for those different from us, to open the doors gladly to those who have had doors shut upon them & to raise the torch for those who have long suffered alone.


Anonymous said...

that was a lovely write up. you have an eloquent way of putting across your thoughts. especially the place where the reader gets to realise what torrential thoughts would rage through someone, who sees his beloved homeland going to the dogs.we who are smug with the knowledge that our country our very own, is always there, for us to roost, alas, fail to see their perspective or the reason behind their vehemence and anger.

drift wood said...

thanks a bunch. that was a ray of sunshine in the cloudy landscape of this blog. ;-)