was supposed to mean ‘Abode of Peace’,
but it became a charred caricature
of Man’s repetitive use of bullets, rockets, tanks,
bombs and ancient fire
to secure money,
and seize power.
Here, King Amanullah and Queen Soraya
dreamt of a ‘modern’ Afghanistan,
not knowing that almost a century later,
Tufan, Su’ood, Amir, Nemat, Matin and Nisar
came to record its wounds and ask,
Where’s the peace?”
Their strong heart-beats
for a measure of calm,
in a colonized city
of shattered pulse and vista.
Confronted with an intractable present,
they ask a universal question,
“What can we do?”
Imagine a new direction,
and without winking,
venture a leap!
But how can reconciliation begin
if the old hasn’t healed,
if there aren’t hands
to hold values other than weapons?
Not someone else’s hand.
It’s hard for Nisar to describe life under
the 24-hour, million-dollar spying ‘blimps’;
they feel utilized, intruded into, objectivized, mechanized.
That’s why they propose
the preventative and personal security
When we put barbs on wires,
we call on fear,
we divert opponents to even more violent ways
The foursome leaned on each other,
and mutually affirm their human instincts,
“We have no borders.”
Tolstoy’s war and peace,
Orwell’s war is peace….
“No,” the youth defy,
“War is War.
We are Peace.”
We need to be clear.
Of course Tufan wonders
if we can untangle what we built.
If fighting is our tendency,
why aren’t families killing one another
across the world?
We mustn’t shrink from the responsibility
that war is a choice
requiring much scheming and funding.
We can hence choose to abolish it.
When Amir visited Bamiyan recently,
he heard that Hazaras like him
are falsely pitted against Tajiks like Nisar.
We should place the science of our shared human genome
on every politician’s table:
Humans are 99.9% similar.
The morning light which bounced off my stained lens
covered Su’ood’s countenance,
but could not hide
his need to recover
War stains permanently.
It tears the picture.
Overlooking a main road near the American University
where at least 16 were recently killed,
we felt frustrated about
the vision which the royal Amanullahs
may have had for humanity.
How have we become blind to evidence?
With an outstretched heart,
Nemat is overcoming his father’s recent demise,
and his own undiagnosed limp.
He forms circles,
and participates in community.
Once, he said, “I see that I’m not alone.”
They stood abreast,
Not one of them was haughty.
and basked in the delight of alignment.
It is fine that picket lines are
a balancing act,
naturally imperfect, and un-straight.
Where are the oases?
Where have all the flowers gone?
They quickly left the small, freshly wet plot,
out of respect to the gardeners,
the uncles who have
toiled as if in a desert
full of thirst.
How will the youth live,
where many governments are failing
despite their machinery, money and masks?
Person by person,
thought by thought,
they can refuse hate,
and refute norms.
Today, the normal kills.
Their sense of camaraderie,
a different spirit,
surrounded the ruins,
and while historical artifacts
have become information that no longer enlighten,
the youth can stand tall
by being one another’s teachers.
Like many in war zones elsewhere,
out of the war rubble which Power throws away,
they look up,
they should look in,
they can breathe.
I’m so proud of them.
NB – The photos named “Hope in War Ruins 1, 2, 6, 10 and 15” are by Muqadisa. The others are by Hakim.