I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the
winter of 1975. 1 remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling
mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago,
but it's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury
it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been
peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.
One day last summer, my friend Rahim Khan called from Pakistan. He asked me to come see him. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasn't just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned** sins. After I hung up, I went for a walk along Spreckels Lake on the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. The early-afternoon sun sparkled on the water where dozens of miniature boats sailed, propelled by a crisp breeze. Then I glanced up and saw
a pair of kites, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high
above the trees on the west end of the park, over the windmills, floating side by
side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco, the city I now call home.
And suddenly Hassan's voice whispered in my head: _For you, a thousand times
over._ Hassan the harelipped kite runner.
I sat on a park bench near a willow tree. I thought about something Rahim
Khan said just before he hung up, almost as an after thought. -There is a way to
be good again.- 1 looked up at those twin kites. I thought about Hassan. Thought
about Baba. Ali. Kabul. I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came and changed everything. And made me what I am today.