It was past midnight and there I was, at my study table, dozing off, falling off on an enormous electronics textbook. I had my post graduate examinations coming in two days and how much ever I read and memorised, I just couldn’t recollect anything after a while.
And this had been my life since the past six months. Prior to that, I was a happy and satisfied wife, mother and lecturer. I chose teaching because I genuinely liked it and thanks to the flexible timings, I didn’t have to leave my two year old son at the day care for too long. Things were going on fine until the management altered the rules and post graduation became mandatory for promotions and increments. Qualifications got more importance than teaching skills and I realized I had little choice but to join the rat race. So after lots of deliberation, I enrolled for post graduation.
Life soon turned topsy-turvy because, apart from the job and the family, I had lectures to attend and assignments to finish. I couldn’t manage everything; I was constantly fighting and bickering. My husband couldn’t help much; he was busy with his race too, constantly travelling as well.
Finally, we were left with no choice but to leave my son with my parents, in a different city. We could visit him during the weekends.
It was fine initially, I could devote a lot of time to my studies; I knew he was being taken care of. But the rot started setting in soon; I was missing him badly, his little blabber, his laughter, his screams. The house was silent all the time. I ended up suffering from extreme loneliness, I was an emotional wreck.
And that night, as I closed the textbook, I knew my studies were suffering too, as I thought of my son all the time.
I woke up early the next day, with just two days left and lot to cover; I prepared myself to yet another day of boredom and loneliness. Having tea, I noticed Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’ in the book shelf. My husband had been raving about it and I decided to read one chapter, just to relax a bit.
It was late in the night when I finished the book, totally awestruck. Just two days away from a major examination, I hadn’t been able to keep the book down for a moment.
I was reading an Afghan novel for the first time and I was amazed as to how the author had provided an insight to the lifestyle and customs of Afghans, their hardships, and the atrocities they faced under Taliban, everything in a strong and compelling narrative.
I marvelled at the innocence and honesty with which the author had explored childhood. The friendship between Amir and Hassan, their adventures, their encounter with bullies, Amir’s stories, his travelling sickness, and his father’s disapproval...I somehow visualized my son in Amir’s place all through and wondered, would he also have a best friend? Would I, as a mother, ever be embarrassed of him?
The most beautiful sentence in the novel, which remains etched in my memory is, when Hassan started speaking, the first word he uttered was Amir.
The portion where Hassan gets molested almost brought tears in my eyes, no book had ever had that effect on me. I sympathised with the kids, as they never gather the courage to tell their fathers about this.
But it was Soraya’s character that actually moved me. She is depressed because she can’t be a mother, but she is strong enough to support Amir and stand by him when he decides to enter the war-torn Afghanistan, face the Taliban and save Sohrab.
The Kite Runner dealt with so many significant topics like child abuse, bullying, father son conflict, atrocities by Taliban, migration, childless couples, with such subtlety.
As I drifted off to sleep that night, I felt contented, happy for the beautiful ending, happy for Sohrab, Amir and Soraya. Not for once did I regret not picking up my textbook that entire day, I felt at peace, after a long time.
The next morning, when I woke up, I was still thinking of The Kite Runner. The children, Amir and Hassan didn’t have a mother to cuddle and cajole them. Soraya longed to hear a baby’s gurgle, to sing a lullaby, but couldn’t. The communists and Taliban had ruined the country, terrorizing men, harassing women, closing down schools, and using football grounds for execution. Still, Amir had risked his life for Sohrab.
And here I was, blessed with freedom, a supportive husband, caring parents and a lovely kid, and I was grieving over trivial matters like a few marks, a meagre increment, a small promotion. I was living away from my baby, when I should have been enjoying watching him grow up. I was supposed to read him stories and sing him songs, and all I was doing was complaining, not even doing justice to my so called academic upgradation.
So I made up my mind, I would bring back my son as soon as the first semester examinations got over in a week. I would perhaps request my parents to stay with us for a while. I also made a firm decision to relax a bit on the studies and job front, not that they were not important, but my baby came first.
Strangely, I felt pretty fresh and focussed after having set my priorities straight. I was able to concentrate, I felt determined to finish off my examinations in style. I didn’t feel guilty or lonely anymore, my son was going to join me very soon.
Ten years have gone by, but the first book that comes to my mind when I have to pick my favourite, is The Kite Runner. A book I read a day before exams, a book which brought me out of impending depression and taught me the value of family.