The Only Sin
I was reading “The Kite Runner” the other day. I had watched the movie some time back and loved it. Later, at the hospital, I was discussing the movie with my colleague Dr Gopal, and he said, the book was much better than the movie, and so I should read it. It didn’t take much time to realize what he said was true. Hosseinis style is simple and beautiful. The tragedy of childhood betrayal and mixed-up identity against the background of poverty and lowered circumstances was breathtaking. As was the palpably new sense of how horrible it would be like to live under the Taliban.
None of that is in the movie. The book, a seemingly sightless medium, offers greater vision.
I always believed that people live on memories. Sad memories never seem to fade away. Everything we have experienced in life….the bad, sad, painful, exciting… all together make us what we are today. The bad memories make us stronger, the happy more caring, the sad more sensitive. Getting rid of any part of memories is getting rid of part of life.
The Kite Runner is a young man’s memories of his life and childhood, and continues in to the present and through it, covers the history and social and religious system of Afghanistan and touches many sensitive aspects of human relationships.
It is the story of two boys – Hassan a Shi’a, Amir a Sunni; one from wealth, the other a servant – who grow up in Afghanistan the best of friends, until one fateful day when Amir is twelve in the winter of 1975. What Amir witnesses change the boys’ friendship forever, and sets events in motion which will have lifelong consequences.
This is a novel which explores many themes: family loyalty, the rigidity of religious division, the cruel effects of war, and the power of love and redemption. Hosseini’s writing is simple and powerful; a no frills spare style which stuns. There are graphic scenes which involve child rape and molestation. The violence in the book is painful to read…and heartbreaking.
The Kite Runner is an epic story, spanning as it does the cruelty of Afghanistan's recent history - the Soviet invasion, Mujahedeen, and the Taliban. But it is the story of internal strife that makes Khaled Hosseini's novel as beautiful and as terribly haunting as it is. As Amir's wife tells him, "sad stories make good books."
I liked what Amir’s father tells his son about sin.
“You asked about sin and I want to tell you. I mean to speak to you man to man. Do you think you can handle that for once?”
Yes, Baba Jan”
“Good, Baba said, but his eyes wondered.” Now no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one, and that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that?”
“ No, Baba Jan”. I said, desperately wishing I did. I didn’t want to disappoint him again.
“When you kill a man, you steal a life” Baba said. You steal his wife’s right to a husband; rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal some one’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see? “
“There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir. A man who takes what is not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of naan…. I spit on such a man….. And if I ever cross paths with him, God help him”
I thought about it, and realized it was one of the best explanations I could think of. Is there a better way to look at what is going on in today’s world? Everyone tries to take what does not belong to him. Money, position, women, men, reputation…..everything. When we try to get any of these things truly not belonging to us, we are really stealing it from its rightful owner.
And then, who is not a thief?