Amir remembered the dark, the guilt, and cold of his childhood. There was the sour face of his grandmother, and her unsteady, wrinkled hand on his back as she sang harsh, foreign lullabies to him in a language he could not claim as his own. He remembered the scars on her wrists—savage ghosts from old bonds. She spoke to him in short, aggravated bursts, but with as much kindness left in her as a former slave could have. Some nights, when his father was busy in the tavern downstairs and his grandmother had warmed her lips around her faded, red pipe, she told him stories about his mother.
He knew, for the most part, that these stories weren’t true. Dreams of a soft, brave, beautiful woman with magic in her fingertips contrasted rudely with his hungry, menial existence. The dissonance between the fragrant, impossible idea of his mother and the every day life of running through back alleys and hiding from curfew watchmen so he could earn extra money unloading smuggled goods at the docks, caused him to reject the idea of having a mother at all. It was much easier to say he had never had a mother than it was to admit that his mother had been a heavenly, beneficent spirit who, despite being virtuous and powerful, left him to a dirty life hundreds of miles away from the native land his grandmother would cry for in her sleep. The old woman would kick at the blankets and clutch her pillow with claw-like fingers, begging unseen men to let her go, let her go home. At first it frightened him, as he lie next to her watching her struggle with the past, but eventually he learned to roll over to the farthest side of the mat that they shared and recite the lessons the monks taught him until he fell asleep.
His father did not like him going to the monks, neither did his grandmother, but she hated his father more than the elusive, strange knowledge her grandson was obsessed with, so she would lie for him. Only a few times did his father catch him reciting, and Amir made sure to never let it happen again. He felt nothing of his father except the half-conscious rage that lashed out at him from the shadows of the narrow tenement they all shared. After much trepidation and years of loathing, he made peace with the fact that his father meant nothing to him. He would make it so that the idea of his father made him feel nothing, not even pity. He would tell the monastic fathers that he had forgiven him. He had not, and deep within him he longed to forget his father had ever existed at all.