The Kite Runner

the kite runnerLooking back, I realized that I had a fairly decent childhood. I never suffered hard labour, was sent to a good private school, provided roof over my head, was bought clothes when I asked, more than enough food and lived in a just society. I look back with morose realization that not every child have a happy childhood like I had. Reading The Kite Runner made this more true.

Hassan is an illiterate servant boy whose harelip handicap never stopped him from being an energetic child. He wakes up early in the morning to help his father tend to their masters. His mother left him five days after he was born to join a travelling entertainment group. She never touched her son once. Hassan’s primary responsibility is to care for a boy his age, named Amir.

While Amir is away for school, Hassan sees to it that all his chores in the mansion are done in time for Amir’s return. You see, Hassan’s best friend is also his master. He looks up to him and cherishes every moment with him. His respect is non-compared to anyone.

In return, Amir reads to Hassan and shares with him his used toys and clothes. He also plays with him a lot while sharing his stories about school and his occasional travel with his businessman father (whom he calls Baba). But Amir is a mischievous child that sometimes plays to Hassan’s limitations. Once, he was asked by his servant boy what imbecile meant, a word he heard Amir say while reading aloud from a book. He toyed with his servant (or Hazara in Afghani), that it meant intelligent. “I’ll use it in a sentence for you” Amir said, “When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile.”

He would often challenge his Hazara but never once did Hassan fight back, even if the situation deserved it. It was always like that; Amir wins in mostly anything only because Hassan lets him or because he was born with that privelage. He also had no worries about the neighbourhood bullies, because if there is anything more certain in his life, it’s Hassan’s protection. The young Hazara loves his Pashtun master unconditionally.

“Yes Father,” Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor’s dog, was always my idea.

The Kite Runner carries on a grand heartbreaking story about cowardice, betrayal, remorse, and above all, friendship. It tells a story about a remarkable young Hazara who sacrifices what little he has to save his best friend. A friend who was reckless with their relationship and who will ultimately be haunted by things he left unspoken.

Set in pre-war torn Afghanistan, author Khaled Hosseini writes a compelling novel about the caste system that divides masters and servants. Though it includes a background of the Afghanistan plight, the story weaves in and out to emphasize the two protagonist. It speaks of the pain of the narrator as he travels his life with a guilt that would never leave him.

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.

I love this book very much and I must say that the love entailed respect. I think there are a few novels that teaches you to be thankful and this is one of them. It took only a day for me to finish it and the day is spent with interludes of applause and sentiments. I was amazed with the young Hazara’s valour which raised him higher than that of the bourgeois he serves or the part-royalty he chose for a best friend. His character spoke eloquently of humanity and simple rules we can go by in life.

But like the real world, life is not fair in The Kite Runner. Life will be unjust to our servant boy; to the most cruel way possible. Yet before the story ends, we realize that there’s an extraordinary way for those who hurt him to be good again. Somehow, the ties that bind Hassan and Amir will live longer and stronger than they would ever know.

This book holds an incredible story … a thousand times over.

Notes:

The Kite Runner

First novel of Khaled Hosseini, a Californian physician who is originally from Kabul, Afghanistan 

Published by Riverhead Books

ISBN 1-57322-245-3

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Pensive

It has been a very still night. The dark shadow of trees from a distance is not moved by the nonexistent air. The heavens are decked with clouds and the humidity is mugging. If there was a moon tonight, I wouldn’t know. I’m listening to the Act II, Scene 13 of the opera Agrippina (Pensieri, Voi Mi Tormentate). It’s a beautiful aria but it would have been more moving and profound if it was raining.

rorschach inkblot I stood in my terrace staring at the beautiful night waiting for a breeze to come by. The city has been asleep for hours and the very little calm it offers sinks to my senses with ease. I need to cleanse my spirit, the kind that does not relate to religion, just me and my state of being.

The horizon flashed a vision of a plane gaining altitude. It looks stunning; I can say this now because of the vast distance that disassociate me from its noise. People carry on with their comings and goings. I insist to stay put. I breathe in more fresh air and I soothed my mind further. Very little thought course through my mind, I try not to be bothered.

I should be sleeping, I know. But the night is too tempting I can’t just sleep it off. It’s not everyday you get this calm, it would be such a waste to just let it go.

The thing about the darkness is it hides you. It seeps through every corner and lets you rest in its arms. You are not troubled with the many things that surrounds you, it tucks the nuisance away. The very little light that tries to grapple to every edge it may reach is still weak compared to the vast night. Unlike what most people think, the night is safe. We are the ones that bring it destructive meaning. We are the ones that disgrace it. If anything, the night is a friend; it is a peaceful shield,  a calm interlude and a seemingly suspended moment.

The night continues to be still and I’m dreaming of rain. Hah! Dreaming, I’m not even in my bed.

Currently listening to “Moonlight” (Piano Sonata No.14, Op. 27, In C-Sharp Minor) via Launchcast

Fried Day

I was supposed to be writing a movie review today. Instead I got stuck running errands for documents to be processed. I had to run to the bank, post office, submit documents for my social security and get my birth certificate photocopied. I’ve forgotten the tedium of the system, how slow the lines move and how short my patience can get.

I had to commute by myself in order to run my plan without a snag. I swear it’s such a drag and the weather is not at all accommodating (been sweating like a pig, this humidity is suffocating). Hopefully before the date set for June all will be well and I don’t have to cram or rush on things.

Towards the end of the day, a bunch of friends asked if I wanted to join them have an early dinner in Teriyaki Boy. I gladly said ‘yes’, took a cab as soon as my work was over and splashed on a bit of cologne. I ordered Kani Salad and Spicy Salmon Gunkan –  which has always been my favorite – and asked every one what they’ve been up to. We had a very nice time and decided to jump to the next restaurant for our dessert. I recommended Via Mare (so we can sample on some local sweets) and everyone was happy to follow. The raucous story-swapping continued and summed to four noisy restaurateurs loaded with sugar.

Soon after, we all separated ways. The rest headed for home but I went back to the office to look into my email and created a list for tomorrows ‘to do’.

Why do I insist on these things?

Listening to Scar Tissue by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers via Launchcast

Pen Over Me

Something interestingly weird happened last Thursday.

I was processing some important documents when they had to bring to my attention that they will need further verification. It was odd because no other verification is needed when the specimen is right in front of them, meaning me.

Apparently my handwriting changed. So someone had to be called to pull up my files for them to look at stock pictures of me and and the person standing in front of them. Unless they think I’m an uber-high tech robot then there is no reason to fear that I’m not the real me. The whole hoopla stemmed from my handwriting circa 2006 and after close scrutiny it was concluded that it was waaay too different for them to provide me a 100% appearance and clearance. So what am I supposed to say, I misplaced my real hands so I brought this one instead? Duh.

Eventually I had to prove to them that I’m no phony. So there I was staring at my old handwritings and trying to replicate it. Two people ogled me while trying to achieve this so it was a little nerve wracking. A few tries later, they concluded that it is no way near the handwriting of the person who signed the documents last 2006. What the f$%^!? I wanted to tell them to walk me through the metal detector to make sure that I’m me and the person who signed the documents years ago is the same person signing in today. I sat in the corner fuming after they said they still need to deliberate.

I could not be bothered by this. I swear I am me. And just because I can’t write or sign or fart the same way three years ago, doesn’t mean a cyborg walked in in my behalf.

The shenanigan continued followed by several penmanship tests. I grew grumpy, close to chucking a paper weight in the window and hurling the idiotic old hag out, when alas! The penmanship I had last 2006 sprang to life. I gave them a total of 4 specimens to be placed on record and I was out of the office in no time. I also asked that I be finger printed, because unless this b.s. procedure change, I would have to haul a lawyer next time.

I need a shrink.

Currently listening to Take A Picture by Filter followed by Soul To Squeeze by Red Hot Chilli Pepers via Launchcast

Angels and Demons

angels-demons-movie-posterIt was a tall order: don’t mess this up the same way you did DaVinci Code. And somehow, they listened. They, meaning Akiva Goldsman (writer) and Ron Howard (director).

Although the Angels and Demons movie becames the sequel, as opposed to Angels and Demons the prequel to the Davinci Code, the subtle change did not affect the entirety of the product. To those who read the books, it still is a fleeting and fixable frustration, given that the result reenergizes the outcome.

The story starts off with the quintessential agnostic Robert Langdon receiving news that the organization he previously offended needs his help. He soon finds himself running all over art-loaded Rome to solve the mystery of the missing Prefiriti (or the favoured future Pontiffs). While the Papal Conclave is in session, the Vatican is protected by the Swiss Guards and seemingly lead by the Camerlengo (the previous Pope’s assistant played by the superb Ewan McGregor).

AEwan McGregor (right) as the Camerlengofter the kidnapping of the four top candidate predecessor of the Papacy, they soon realize that the Illuminati has come back for their very much awaited vengeance. And via the four primordial elements (earth, wind, fire and water) they will conclude the long battle between science and religion by fulfilling the “Path of Illumination” using an antimatter.

The prequel/ sequel – which ever appeals to you – is subverted by the growing cynical world. With the movie’s rich historical data of the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church (I can’t believe I remember stuffs I learned back in high school –we were taught the process of electing a new Pope and the personalities that will play a role while the Pope’s chair is empty) one realizes that the peaceful nature of this organization is both peculiar, trecherous, wonderful and worthy of exploration. Although it implies a devolution near-irrelevant religious joke to non-Catholics, it is likely to inspire a fascination. The whole armada of the Roman Catholic Church shows astute testament to the power of the Crusade. It is a pleasure to think that the fundamental belief and faith I myself have had is paramount in history weaved with gore, scheme, well meaning objectives and vigor that never loses track.

angels and demons movie image tom hanks and ayelet zurerGoing back to the movie, Tom Hanks is memorably better in Angels and Demons. This time he doesn’t look like he has ran his course in the looks department and has gone to a better hair stylist. The movie also picks up a pace that does not drone or lecture the audience. It instead takes us to the construction of the story with graceful traffic both on the setting and on storytelling.

Angels and Demons characters, not plotting, is the film’s strong suit (though plotting takes over in the final half hour). It delivers enough entertainment – or maybe I’ll just watch anything that has Ewan Mcgregor in it.  I may be able to wait for the movie to come out on video or HBO because so many other expositions was not shown or altered but it still filled my curiousity nicely. The clever musical scoring and the twist of the story rode well to its ensamble. It reminded me why I allowed myself to come see it even with hesitations resulting from the first instalment.

Plus, the big bang scene was so cool in the book I can’t pass the experience of seeing it in the big screen.

Ratings: starstarstarstar_2star_2