Chapter 1December 2001I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid, overcast day in the winter of 1975. I 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 itÃÂs wrong what they say about the past, about how you can bury it. I know it is wrong because I learned that 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 me. Standing in the kitchen with the receiver to my ear, I knew it wasnÃÂt just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my entire past; all my sins that I have not atoned for. 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 in San Francisco, the city I now call home. And suddenly HassanÃÂs voice whispered in my head: For you, a thousand times over. Hassan, the hare-lipped kite runner.
I run 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. I looked up at those...