• Vaishanavi Raul

‘The Kite Runner’- A Look into Hosseini’s Kabul and the Sultans that Reigned Over

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

The novel is a spellbinding tale about two friends set at the backdrop of Afghanistan and how, when life comes full-circle, one has to face the music. A tale about love, friendship and a possible chance at redemption.

When I close my eyes to think about ‘The Kite Runner’, I see colors. Colors that painted Afghanistan a shade of fleeting red, blue, purple, and yellow against a clear blue sky. I picture the annual kite flying tournament that hosts hundreds and thousands of afghani kids fighting war mid-air.

Beneath the sky, I see two tiny figures. One’s hand looming over the shoulder of the other. I see Amir and Hassan- The (self-declared) ‘Sultans of Kabul’.

One of the things that hooked me right into this novel is how Hosseini birthed two of the most well-written characters I’ve come to witness in years of reading. It’s almost as if he’s spent a major chunk of time testing Hassan’s inert innocence, Amir’s dwindling morals and their bond that Amir refused to call ‘friendship’.

‘Nevermind that we taught each other how to ride a bicycle with no hands or to build a fully functional home-made camera out of a cardboard box. Nevermind that to me, the face of Afghanistan is that of a boy with a thin-boned frame, a shaved head, and low-set ears. A boy with a Chinese-doll face and perpetually lit by a hare-lipped smile. Nevermind any of those things because history isn’t easy to overcome, neither is religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara. I was a Suni and he was a Shia and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing.’

This riveting tale transcends beyond borders, beyond Afghanistan’s Wazir Akbar Khan and finds shelter in whatever little time you sit with it.

In Afghanistan’s snowy winters, in Kabul’s bustling markets, and behind shelled Russian tanks, Khaled Hosseini crafts a tale so human that it’ll live and breathe with you.

Flipping through the pages, I remember running along chasing kites with Amir and Hassan- I remember gasping for air. Between the Pashtuns and the Hazaras, between the communists and the socialists, I recall siding with ‘Baba’. Amir’s ‘Baba’. The ‘baba’ that he revered and the same ‘baba’ who he wished he’d not become.

The more I think of it, the lesser words I can put it in.

Where do I begin? If I start from the beginning, I’d have to bear the end. And yet, if I start at ‘the end’, I wouldn’t want it to begin.

I wouldn’t want to experience all the wonderful shades of Afghanistan only to witness it being stripped off them. I wouldn’t want to stay while it happened and yet, I did. I surrendered.

And yet... I survived.

I listened to Amir’s stories- both written and made-up. I also shared the ear with Hassan.

Hassan, who knew Amir more than he knew the road leading home. He always knew what even Amir couldn’t come to terms with. Someone who was always a breath below his conscience.

Baba’s servant’s son, Hassan.

Baba admired Hassan. Even more out loud than he would in silence.

Either way, Amir was never on the receiving end.

Years go by per 30 pages at a time and you’re left in awe. From Kabul to Pakistan to America, we travel economy. We travel through flakes of snow and then inevitably, through shards of glass. Carefully avoiding landmines and the soviet pricks who hoot from afar-Together, we travel.

At the comfort of our house, one can’t imagine what it’s like to live under bombed roofs or to hear the gunfire intermittently mix with conversations at dinner.

But one can read.

‘There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.’

That is now. But there was a time when women of Afghanistan ruled, taught, and inspired.

There was a time when the only war that the children had to go to was the one mid-air, with kites that would hover over roofs that hosted guests who clutched their plates filled with samosas and chai. A time that flashed by one sunset ago then two, then 10.

Hosseini captures that time within numbered pages.

To say that this book is merely about friendship, redemption, love, and sacrifice would be an understatement and yet, even with the praise- there’s no way I can make an overstatement.


Vaishanavi is a 20-something writer who believes doing more than just turning a white paper black occasionally.

She writes to taste life twice.

You can find her on Instagram here: @raulvai

You can check out more articles by her on her blog here:


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