uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
My driver, a chain-smoking, sweaty little man who introduced himself as Gholam, drove nonchalantly and recklessly, averting collisions by the thinnest of margins, all without so much as a pause in the
incessant stream of words spewing from his mouth: “... terrible what is happening in your country, yar.
full of trivial conversation
A little past the redbrick buildings of Peshawar University, we entered an area my
garrulous driver referred to as “Afghan Town.”
check and sort carefully
“You don’t want to know, Amir jan, what it was like
sifting through the rubble of that orphanage.
concerned with practical matters
But I am not surrendering to fate here, I am being
pragmatic. I have seen several good doctors here and they have given the same answer. I trust them and believe them. There is such a thing as God’s will.”
diffusing warmth and friendliness
Other than that, he had those same narrow green eyes, that scar on his upper lip, that round face, that
physically and mentally fatigued
He came back the next morning, looking tired and
weary, like he had not slept all night.
When Hassan ran away the night before, he did so because a weak, toothless, slashed-face woman had revealed that she was the mother whom he had never known. Upon returning the next morning, weary as he was, Hassan accepted his long-gone mother back into his life, and with his wife, nursed her back to health, while doing all the cooking, cleaning, and caring for his master's house. "Weary" is not an adjective that Hassan would normally embody.
completely lacking in playfulness
I told you how we all celebrated in 1996 when the Taliban rolled in and put an end to the daily fighting. I remember coming home that night and finding Hassan in the kitchen, listening to the radio. He had a
sober look in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong, and he just shook his head. “God help the Hazaras now, Rahim Khan sahib,” he said.
Similar to how Hassan always seemed to know where the kite would land before it became visible overhead, he is aware that the Taliban's arrival, which others saw as a joyful return to peace, meant sober trouble for him and everyone identified as a Hazara. The author gives this quality to Hassan for two reasons: 1) to foreshadow later events and 2) to emphasize that Hassan might be illiterate, but he is smarter than many people in other ways.
spherical in shape
Sunlight slanted in from the left, casting a shadow on half of his
This image reveals a lot about Hassan's nature and life. Although "rotund" also means "excessively fat" that would not describe Hassan because he is too poor to eat well. Rather, the rotundity of Hassan's face connects to his Hazara background and emphasizes his overall sense of wholeness and joy at being alive, despite the shadows that cross his face and path.
make apparent by one's mood or behavior
Even in this blurry Polaroid, the man in the chapan
exuded a sense of self-assuredness, of ease.
leave undone or leave out
No dots were
omitted, no crosses forgotten, no words blurred together—the handwriting was almost childlike in its neatness.
incapable of reproducing
sterile,” Rahim Khan said.
shout loudly and without restraint
“How could you hide this from me? From him?” I
having lost your bearings
Disoriented, he has to reevaluate his surroundings, reorient himself.
make compatible with
And how was I going to
reconcile this new image of Baba with the one that had been imprinted on my mind for so long, that of him in his old brown suit, hobbling up the Taheris’ driveway to ask for Soraya’s hand?
make amends for
And with that came this realization: that Rahim Khan had summoned me here to
atone not just for my sins but for Baba’s too.
feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
“He used to have seven,” Rahim Khan said with a
rueful look, but he’d lost his two youngest girls a few years earlier in a land mine blast just outside Jalalabad, the same explosion that had severed toes from his feet and three fingers from his left hand.
hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
Two Pakistani militia approached our dilapidated Land Cruiser, took a
cursory glance inside, and waved us on.
reflect deeply on a subject
I was afraid I’d deliberate,
ruminate, agonize, rationalize, and talk myself into not going.
a facial expression of contempt or scorn
“You want to know?” he
Farid is sneering at Amir because of his own life (see example sentence for "rueful") and because he sees Amir as a rich tourist who had never known the real Afghanistan and is now visiting from America to sell off land he'd lived luxuriously on while others starved and died. When Amir reveals his actual reason for returning to his birthplace, Farid's attitude towards him softens.
expressing extreme scorn
“What brings them all back to Afghanistan, dear brother?” Farid said, speaking to Wahid but fixing me with a
being or suggesting a large dark enclosed space
He looks down at the blindfolded man before him with eyes that show nothing but a vast,
in a state of mental numbness as resulting from shock
Farid must have seen my
stupefied expression; shuttling people back and forth to Kabul, he would have become familiar with that expression on the faces of those who hadn’t seen Kabul for a long time.
showing a brooding ill humor
“Welcome back,” he said morosely.
impose something unpleasant
Just east of it was the Bala Hissar Fort—the ancient citadel that the warlord Dostum had occupied in 1992—on the Shirdarwaza mountain range, the same mountains from which Mujahedin forces had showered Kabul with rockets between 1992 and 1996,
inflicting much of the damage I was witnessing now.
reduced to nothingness
Entire blocks had been
obliterated to rubble.
poor enough to need help from others
Returning to Kabul was like running into an old, forgotten friend and seeing that life hadn’t been good to him, that he'd become homeless and
without qualification; used informally as intensifiers
That was the first time I saw the Taliban. I’d seen them on TV, on the Internet, on the cover of magazines, and in newspapers. But here I was now, less than fifty feet from them, telling myself that the sudden taste in my mouth wasn’t
unadulterated, naked fear.
to a great depth psychologically
Now I knew my mother had liked almond cake with honey and hot tea, that she’d once used the word “
profoundly,” that she’d fretted about her happiness.
make a pillaging or destructive raid on, as in wartime
Farid had told me on the way there that Karteh-Seh had been one of the most war-
ravaged neighborhoods in Kabul, and, as we stepped out of the truck, the evidence was overwhelming.
What I have in
ample supply here is children who’ve lost their childhood.