It’s been a hard few days.
Foremost in my mind lately is our friend, Abdulhai, who works on post. We have coffee with him about every night; a charming, funny young man who tells us secrets in our respective languages, all of which he speaks. We keep encouraging him to try for an interpreter position- two years of service usually gets an interpreter into the Special Immigration program, which he wants very badly, but that’s such dangerous work these days. Or, it can be, depending on where you work.
Anyways. My point: Abdulhai lost family this Monday, in the car- bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul. (A bombing which, at this time, is suspected to have been done by Pakistani terrorists, although there’s no confirmation and no one has yet claimed responsibility.) He and his family are from Kabul, mostly, where for the last few years it has been quiet, and still, there is this terrible acceptance to his grief. These things do happen.
As an American, with such privilege: I came to the war, and I could leave it, too, if I chose. I could. I won’t, because I think I belong here right now; I won’t, because I feel compelled to be here, for my family, for my self, and for the good I hope to do, small as it is. And that’s another question, of course: who am I, to assume I can fix anything? I’m an outsider, a foreigner, part of yet another government that has used Afghanistan as its personal stomping ground. No matter what my government’s reasons or ambitions were/ are, we are, essentially, just another foreign entity, fucking around in a place that’s been being pushed about for far too long. Do I think that outweighs the good we do? No, not usually. Not most days, especially after talking to so many of the local population, who say it is more peaceful, who are happy to see their children back in schools, nearly all of whom are glad to see the Taliban divided and hopefully, some day, disintegrated. And yet still.
I am so conflicted about this place, and my place in it.
My thoughts, this week, they all seem to be about conflict, destruction, death. It’s not just the bombing- there are other things, too, but they aren’t for here. It’s been… vigorous. In a not- so- great way.
And another Fallen Comrade Ceremony, of course; there are so many of those. All lined up on the street, waiting, watching, playing tough guy when the coffin rolls past. My back remembers the military in these moments; my posture is perfect, movements spare and quick, because if it were my brother/ father/ spouse/ friend, I would want that for them. Because if it were my brother, I would not be there for this, so I do my best here, as though I could build a reserve.
(It will not be my brother. He will be safe, and home, soon.)