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Facing the Dark Sides of Life

During the journey to the seminar in Germany last week we were hearing the whole time an audio book a friend gave us for the trip: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I hadn’t heard of the book before, but when listening to it we all were thrilled. At first I felt skeptical because the topic promised to be heavy stuff, and thus it was, but very fascinating.

Since we couldn’t finish the last of the 9 CDs during the journey, yesterday afternoon my wife and I went with our car to a beautiful place in a nearby forest. And while the sun was dancing on the foliage and the cobwebs, we dived into the novel. The story is playing in the Afghanistan of the 70 until 2001. It is about causing and bearing one’s guilt.

I don’t want to re-tell here the captivating story, but it stirred a number of situations in my own life related with it: In 1994, while I was teaching German in a refugee integration center I met a young man, an Iraqi  Jew who was “killed” and buried alive in the 80ies by soldiers of Saddam Hussein, who wiped out the whole village. It was just incredibly good luck that he escaped, flew via Iran and Pakistan until he was admitted as refugee to Switzerland. He was eager to learn violin. I organised for him an instrument which years later he brought back, when he had bought a very good one of his own. Then there was the Syrian  collaborator in my team, from the Iraqi border, while I was head of an inter-cultural counseling centre in the 90ies. He was a refugee himself and a great story teller, and together with him I wrote some of his stories in German. And then there was the Iranian colleague in the same team who had been an archaeologist and had done field work in Afghanistan in the 60ies and early 70ies. Together with him I published a series of writings about the cultural backgrounds of Muslim refugees from the Middle East. He also could tell stories of the great past of this part of the world for hours. And there are our neighbours from Afghanistan with whom we have good relations. The husband was a minister in the Afghan government supported by the Russians in the 80ies – and living since many years in Switzerland as a refugee without finding any employment. The past is quite lively with them…

But most of all the story stirred events from my own life, especially the final part of the novel, where Amir, the first person narrator, was struggling hard to re-gain the confidence of the young Sohrab, his seriously traumatized nephew. His struggle seems to be in vain, and even in the end it remains open whether he could build it up again or not. It reminded me of an encounter I had in the last months where I also tried to re-gain the confidence of a person, not successful up to now, and the final outcome remains open. My wife told me that the situation reminds her of The Horse Whisperer and of a frightened horse. So when I’m thinking of the person I’m calling her the timid foal.

The Kite Runner story contains very deep lessons on karma and it reminds me of the story of Angulimala which I told my children with a comic strip when they were small. Many don’t want to face the dark sides of their lives and try to bury them inside, avoiding any contact. It might take a long time before your are ready for entering into it. And the roots might even go back before the limits of the present incarnation. But when you go through the fire of rectification and have learned your lesson, you feel deeply relieved. This I experienced the last weeks, and also Amir felt greatly relieved in the end.

The cornfields are ready for harvest.

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