Thursday, February 5, 2009

Recommended reading

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
It seems that for centuries the country of Afghanistan has been at war. Very few people, even some with special insight and historical knowledge of the region, expect that the country will ever know anything but conflict based upon centuries-old tribal rivalries, biases, faiths and beliefs.
Recent events and social, political and economic pronouncements - particularly from the United States and our own Canadian government - produced a demonization of all things Afghani. Taliban or otherwise we've become anesthetized to the plight of the people of Afghanistan. While we can perhaps all agree that the Taliban quest to take the country back to a former fundamentalist religious base, how did it happen that we came to lose sight that there are people just like us living in Kabul. I know how incredibly naive this all sounds...that someone in my position should just realize that he's fallen prey to the manipulations of the Bush/Harper governments and their minions BUT...better that we become aware than never aware at all.
All this is written solely to encourage you to read this book. It will help you regain perspective and get back to the emotions and qualities of all of our lives that really do matter.
This book is lyrical and violent. The author has an uncanny ability to find the poetry in devastation and the hope that springs from grounds which by all accounts should be forever barren. If you read no other book in the next short while...make it this one.
The following brief passage will I hope entice you to seek it out.
"Alas the Afghanistan of our youth is long dead. Kindness is gone from the land and you cannot escape the killings. Always the killings. In Kabul, fear is everywhere, in the streets, in the stadium, in the markets, it is a part of our lives here, Amir agha. The savages who rule our watan don't care about human decency. The other day, I accompanied Farzana jan to the bazaar to buy some potatoes and naan. She asked the vendor how much the potatoes cost, but he did not hear her, I think he had a deaf ear. So she asked louder and suddenly a young Talib ran over and hit her on the thighs with his wooden stick. He was screaming at her and cursing and saying the Ministy of Vice and Virtue does not allow women to speak loudly. She had a large purple bruise on her leg for dayds but what could I do except stand and watch my wife get beaten? If I fought, that dog would surely put a bullet in me, and gladly! Then what would happen to my Sohrab? The streets are full enough already of hungry orphans and every day I thank Allah that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.
"I wish you could see Sohrab. He is a good boy. Rahim Khan sahib and I have taught him to read and write so he does not grow up stupid like his father. And can he shoot with that sling-shot!....I am a very proud and very lucky father."

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