Blog Archives: January 2017

I had forgotten the Afghan mountain spirit

The wars within and without had spun me into a hurry, a hurry to do what, to accomplish what? I had forgotten the mountains of Afghanistan until, going up her untamed slopes encroached by an expanding cemetery, I asked Sami and Sarwar, as a cold breeze blew my voice away, “Is the mountain a living or non-living thing?” The clouds were presenting shadow shows with the sunlight, as the mountain peaks loomed above hibernating shrubs, and graves previously and newly dug for grieving families. “Alive! The mountain is living,” they both replied. The earth’s seismic sway had served up her prominent art for us to gaze and tread upon, for us to reconsider our obsessions to extract, exploit and kill on her watch. During a team building circle two weeks ago, we had thought, “How could we manage our fears, stresses, anger, sadness…?” ‘Go touch Nature, let her caress us, […]

All sorts of Afghan Winter Feelings: “I was frightened. I cried.”

“I was frightened. I cried,” she seemed like both a statue and a radio, numb and alive, not shy about the horrors she had survived. “There were bombs dropping from the heavens, and firing from the army, the Taliban, yes, yes, from everyone, from everywhere.” Already like a teenage mother to her younger siblings who huddled around her, she insisted, “We had to run, to escape Kunduz.” Do we really expect her to have stayed put, to not seek refuge from weapons the powers produce? “And now? We eat little scraps found on the streets. See? We burn plastic.” A few unwashed glasses were in a corner, and also Nasriya, their latest sibling, gazing at her refugee world from a hanging baby cot, no nursery rhymes, no birthday candles, no photo albums. Sadly, such stories are not news these days, not ‘attractive’ enough for viewers, though it ought to be […]

Despite 2017 odds, my Afghan friends and I hope for healing

The blurred background atmosphere behind Mansoor’s silhouette seemed to want to drive itself into our lungs. The Afghan Ministry of Public Health estimates that in Kabul alone, 3000 people die from air pollution-related illnesses in one year. I could hardly make out the two pedestrians 70 metres away, at about 10 a.m. on a Kabul morning During particularly stressful moments in 2016, I had felt that the year was one long, hard Afghan night. A few evenings ago, my eyes had smarted from the dense irritant pollutants that enshroud Kabul streets and invade breaths and dreams in winter. Mansoor, determined to do well in his college entrance exams next year, laughed sarcastically at the burnt air which smelled of soot and survival scraps, holding his hand to his mouth and nose as a mask, saying, “Of course our lives are shortened by this smoke.” At least, someone had told me, […]