In March 1981

April 7, 2019 Business

In March 1981, Amir and Baba are in the back of a pick up truck with several other Afghans escaping to Pakistan. The uneven path makes Amir feel sick, and he fears that he is embarrassing Baba “My innards had been roiling since we’d left Kabul just after two in the morning. Baba never said so, but I knew he saw my car sickness as yet another of my array of weakness — I was it on his embarrassed face the couple of times my stomach had clenched so badly I moaned” (110). They left home in the middle of the night because they couldn’t trust anyone. The rafiqs, or comrades as Amir calls them, have divided Afghan society. It’s gotten to the point where people turn each other in for money if they are under threat of violence. The truck driver, Karim, had a business arrangement with the Russian soldiers, when they arrive at the checkpoint, the Russian guard eyes a woman in the truck and says he will only let them pass if he can have half an hour with her. Baba didn’t allow it. “That was when Baba stood up. It was my turn to clamp a hand on his thigh, but Baba pried it loose, snatched his leg away. When he stood, he eclipsed the moonlight. ‘I want you to ask this man something,’ Baba said. He said it to Karim, but looked directly at the Russian officer. ‘Ask him where his shame is'” (115). The Russian threatened to shoot Baba, and he raised his handgun as a threat when another Russian officer stops him. After they pass the checkpoint, the husband of the woman kisses Baba’s hand to show his gratitude for protecting his wife. After their arrival in Jalalabad, where they were to switch trucks, Karim tells them the bad news that the truck they needed broke last week, which makes Baba furious; his rage caused him to assault Karim. They stay in a basement with other refugees for a week. One restless night in the basement Amir recognizes Kamal and his father. Amir overheard Kamal’s father telling Baba what happened to Kamal that made him so sickly and weak. Four men caught Kamal out, and when he came back to his father he was bleeding “down there” (p. 120). Kamal no longer speaks, just stares. Finally Kamir finds a truck to take them to Pakistan. It’s a fuel truck, and the air inside is thick with fumes, making it difficult to breathe. They arrive in Pakistan, but once they’re out of the truck Kamal’s father begins screaming. Kamal has stopped breathing. Before anyone can act, Kamal’s father puts Karim’s gun in his own mouth and shoots.

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