The Kite Runner Epilogue

Image Credit: Sara M., Milford, CT The author's comments: I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and I was not very satisfied with the ending. So I decided to write my own ending as an epilogue.  They say that time heals all wounds. Time repairs. It provides comfort and shields us from the pain scarring our lives. I believed this that winter morning of 1975 when Hassan ran a kite for the last time. As I crouched behind the crumbling mud wall and peered into the dimly lit alley, I believed that with time this incident would only be a faint memory in Hassan’s head; only a moment of discomfort in a life filled with opportunities and happiness. I was wrong. Time does not heal. Time has never healed. Time did not erase the agony of being raped from Hassan’s memory. And time surely did not alleviate the guilt I felt for betraying my brother. But what time does is cover wounds. It suppresses pain until we enter a state where we are able to fight our feelings of regret, guilt and loss. Time helped me elude my emotions but Sohrab ended the guilt haunting me since childhood.   ------------------------------------------------------------------------ A year has passed. It is an overcast morning in March. Groups of familiar faced Afghans gather in small crowds around the East Bay area, ready to celebrate Sawl-e-Nau, the Afghan New Year. Raindrops pelt windows and the sun is tucked away in the clouds. Soraya, Sohrab and I head towards a makeshift tent. We walk in silence. Sohrab fiddles with his slingshot and quietly gazes into the distance. But as lightening flashes through the sky and a boom of thunder echoes through our ears, Sohrab’s hands clutch onto mine. We stoop under the canopy. Soraya and Sohrab drift towards women preparing kababs, rice dishes and spinach bolani. From the corner of my eye, I notice General Taheri and Khala Jamila enter the tent. “Salaam,” I greet. “How is Kabul?” A couple months after the general was summoned to Afghanistan for a ministry position, Khala Jamilia joined him there. Together, they rebuilt their compound and settled in the outskirts of Kabul. “It is getting better, Amir jan,” the general replied. “Like I said before, Afghanistan has never been kind to invaders. It was only a matter of time before the Taliban were driven out.” “Kabul is returning to it’s old self,” Khala Jamila adds excitedly. “We can smell Lamb Kabob on the streets and even see a couple of kites here and there.” “Really? That is amazing!” My face lights up at the thought of Kabul, the Kabul I knew as a child. My lips curl into a smile thinking about all the children whose childhood will be given back to them. I can already envision children skipping through the streets of Kabul. I imagine them chasing kites, gobbling down sweets and howling with laughter. I can see them enjoying life the way Hassan and I did many, many years ago. “We have funded the building of an orphanage.” General Taheri continues. “We will name it after Baba, to commemorate his hard work.” “I’m sure Baba would have appreciated that very much,” I respond. We make some more small talk regarding the fluctuating political situation in Afghanistan before the general excuses himself and leaves the tent. On the other side of the tent, I notice Soraya hand Sohrab a plateful of spinach bolani. He stuffs the bolani into his mouth then ravenously gulps it down with a glass of doogh. “Would you like some more, Sohrab jan?” Soraya enquires. In the past year, she has recommenced her attempts at engaging Sohrab. And although the boy has not explicitly shown his liking towards Soraya, he has definitely grown more comfortable in her presence. “Some more, lotfan.”  Please. While Soraya begins to fry more bolani, Sohrab wanders outside the tent. Showers of rain hammer down, forming shallow puddles. Sohrab’s hair – brown and straight like his father’s – is now plastered against his scalp. From this angle, one could almost confuse him for Hassan. Sohrab’s eyes flicker to the sky, then widen.   “Amir agha! Amir agha, look!” Sohrab calls out, rushing back to the tent. His eyes are awake now. Alert. Full of life. He points towards the sky. Kites soar above us, speckles of red, yellow and green against the gloomy grey sky. “The kite seller! He’s back!” “Sohrab jan, do you want a kite?” I ask, already knowing the answer. We head to the small kite stand. Sohrab points to a white seh-parcha covered in red, green and blue stripes.  “Sawl-e-Nau Mubarak!” The kite seller greets, taking the twenty and handing Sohrab the kite along with a wooden spool of glass tar. “Tashakor,” Sohrab replies. Thank you. We turn the other direction, away from the watchful eyes of our Afghan friends. They have been observing us; their attention augments every time Sohrab displays a hint of normality. We trudge through mud-covered grass until we reach a clearing far away from the tents. The rain has ceased to a small drizzle and the sun is emerging from the safety of the clouds. “Do you want some help?” I gesture towards the spool resting in Sohrab’s hand. “Yes, Amir agha,” Sohrab responds softly. I pick up the spool and drop it in Sohrab’s left hand. Then, I indicate for Sohrab to hold the kite high with his other hand.  I feed the kite about 3 feet of tar. The kite dangles at the end of it, threatening to fall into the mud underneath. “Now I want you to run. Run as fast as you can. While you are running, roll the spool until the kite has taken flight,” I instruct, letting go of the tar. Sohrab tightens his grip on the spool. I can hear him breathing rapidly through his nose. Then, he takes off. Sohrab runs. He dashes through the mud, displacing small strands of grass and splashing rainwater from puddles. The spool rolls in his hand and the string reddens with blood. The kite is lifting now, ascending into the air. Sohrab stops, turns and grins at the kite he just flew. “Mashallah, Sohrab! Bravo! ” I cheer, applaud and beam, like Baba had once done for me. “Tashakor, Amir agha,” Sohrab glows with pride. He then continues to fly the kite, marveling at how effortlessly it soars through the sky. Back in the tent, someone has switched on the cassette player. Old Afghan music blares through the speakers. My ears take in the faint melody of a familiar Ahmad Zahir song. The world is very small I’m with the memory of you everywhere, everywhere So I don’t abandon you You are the king of my heart I remember this song. Sultan e Qualbam. Ahmad Zahir had performed it live at my 13th birthday celebration. Back then my attention towards this song had been cast towards the melody. But now, the lyrics are what refuses to leave my mind. Hassan is everywhere. His smiling face appears in every nook and cranny of my memory. His laughter rings through my ears like church bells on a Sunday morning. And I can still picture him chasing kites. He was the best kite runner Kabul will ever see. This song takes me back to that winter morning of 1975 where I subconsciously prayed that with time my guilt would diminish. This song reminds me of the days I thought that ceasing interaction with Hassan would cease my guilt.   I was so wrong.   Because change does not come in an instant. My guilt will not be fading away any time soon. But as I watch the kite dance to the melody of this Ahmad Zahir song, one thing is very clear to me; every time Sohrab smiles, a piece of my guilt melts away.



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