Haroon has come home after being falsely accused of being part of a terrorist group to find his father cooking his “famous lamb casserole”(44). Throughout the scene and chapter, Haroon reflects upon his day and the reader subtly learns about his family, his morals, and further understands who he is. I believe that Haroon is scared that the police/terrorist incident will interrupt and possibly take away his ideal, “quiet little life” (49) . One can infer that this fear derives from his immense gratitude for what he has now, and he doesn’t want that to change. This could be a result of losing and leaving what he had in Afghanistan, or alternatively that he doesn’t want to go back. Haroon loves his family and as a reader I can infer that he looks up to them as well. His values of honesty, gratitude and empathy can all be traced back to what his parents model for him, in how they act, how hard they work, and what they do. Although all of these traits are admirable, what impresses and connects with me the most was how empathetic he is;
(Dad) grabs us and holds us close. I know he’s thinking about the parents who cannot hold their children today, who cannot present them with plates of food and watch them eat and argue and laugh. I know he’s thinking that because I am thinking the same thing.(47)
Why I connected so strongly with this part of Haroon is not only because being an empathetic person is something I strive to be, but also because kind, empathetic people are something the world really needs right now. In a world where some leaders and influential people look down upon others and diminish their religion, culture, and equality, kindness and empathy are incredibly important.
Haroon is aware of how others may feel, and can identify when something is unfair to others, particularly for Azeem, the boy who did get arrested that day.
My mind sees images of blindfolded men in cages, guarded by soldiers. I can’t picture Azeem there. I refuse to. Azeem belongs on the Reach for the Top team. Until this moment, I haven’t really grasped what is going on.
‘He’s a kid,’ I say. ‘There are rules and laws. Procedures.’
At this point, Haroon is still shocked by what has happened, and has not grasped the possible aftermath of this event. However, this scene establishes Haroon’s empathetic and peaceful nature, as well as the strong bond with his family.