Summary – Chapter Eight, ‘The Holy Forest’
Kip brings a ladybird in from the field and gives it to Hana. She takes it up to the patient and touches his foot with the hand that holds it. It then travels up his body.
The narrative then shifts to Kip catching a fuze box that Caravaggio nudges off a counter, and to Hana writing about what ‘he’ says about Lahore in book of poetry.
There is a further shift in time and focus and Kip is being lowered into a pit to defuse an Esau bomb. As he did this, Hardy stood at the top of the pit to help him. When all was safe, Kip sat in the jeep and realized that only Hardy was keeping him human.
In the present, we are told Kip spends hours with ‘the Englishman’. He reminds Kip of a fir tree he saw in Lord Suffolk’s garden. Its one sick branch was held up by another tree.
The focus moves to Kip sleeping with Hana and how he remembers his ayah. He thinks of how he loved her more than his mother. He scratches Hana gently as he once did to his ayah after his mother died.
Analysis – Chapter Eight
Kip remains a focus of the narrative in this chapter. His experience of the war is referred to once more and in this case it is in relation to a bomb he defused in a pit. His relationship with Hardy is a counterbalance to the previous chapter where he is seen to have endured the marginalization of racism. With Hardy, however, he was treated with respect and felt that this relationship kept him human.
His love for Hana is evoked through his memories of his ayah and his mother. The same gentle scratch that he performs on both Hana and his ayah allows a parallel to be drawn between the two women and accentuates his present sense of belonging.