Push and pull

I should not read books about bad things happening to good people in a place like Afghanistan, or watch documentaries on AlJazeera about the same topic. I finished Tracy Kidder’s book about a young man who miraculously survived the genocide in both Rwanda and Burundi to become a colleague of Paul Farmer. And then I watched TV and listened to people telling about their years in Stasi prisons in East Germany and the theme was the same: bad people getting away with murder and victims being denied even a gram of justice. It’s the same story in Afghanistan.

It left me all tense, producing tons of knots in my back which Frishta worked on for an hour. The knots are still there and I find myself still tense, even Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies didn’t help; in fact they left me feeling bloated and unwholesome.

The tension also comes from having so many things on my to do list that I can’t even bear to write them down, the continuous chatter about something bad being planned for Kabul, the visa dramas of our SOLA kids and the new crop of blast walls that is being put in place everywhere. It is so time to leave!

I remember earlier this year when the enormous concrete blast walls were being removed everywhere around town. It was exciting to see regular buildings emerge, trees that had been removed from view by these tall walls, seeing side streets I didn’t even know were there. At the time I thought it was the return of normalcy in Kabul but these hopes have been dashed. The military industrial complex is alive and well and the city seems to prepare for all out war.

I made my last visit to Ibrahim on Chicken Street where I was going to buy just two patchwork quilts but Ibrahim is a clever young business man and I returned home with two bags full of quilts and patchwork covers. The street of Ibrahim’s shop, a side street off Chicken Street, was now also blocked by blast walls, the kind you can still look over but still blast walls, and ominous and worrisome development.

I went to say goodbye to Katie who is off to the US tomorrow, flying straight into Irene, a fact that worries her. Katie and John live in a cozy little house in a still relatively low-rise part of Kabul, tucked away behind a monstrous poppy house, with a small garden, two turtles and a two story pigeon house on a pole.

Katie made lunch and then we watched Once in Afghanistan, a wonderful documentary about a group of women, now in their 60s who travelled all over Afghanistan vaccinating women and children against small pox at a time that Afghanistan was one of the remaining areas in the world where smallpox was still endemic. It’s a heartwarming story about cultural understandings and misunderstandings and how Afghanistan changed their lives (for the better) that left me all warm and fuzzy, able to face the cold blast walls on my way home.

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