Late yesterday we were summoned to Jalil’s office, for a meeting this morning. Arriving there at 10am sharp, as we had been asked, we were told by his flamboyant office-lady-woman, that we were late, and that he had gone already. But, with a generous gesture, she agreeably told us that Hagar was officially registered. We were suitably grateful and impressed. But, then what had Jalil wanted, we asked, still a little disbelieving.
‘Oh’, she said, ‘In one place you had written Hagar International, and in another, Hagar Afghanistan. It was confusing.’
‘Ahhh. But we are registered?’
‘Oh yes. Come back on Saturday and we can start the paperwork.’
The paperwork. Two little words that speak volumes. ‘Ahhmm, and what might the paperwork be?’
‘Well, you need a letter, you have to submit $1000 bond at the bank, we have to prepare your certificate. Some other things. But it is too easy.’
Hmmm. Some time by the year 2015, we might have it all done, I thought to myself.
We thanked her and went off to buy an air conditioner. Our offices face the sun no matter where it is, and being flat roofed and unshaded, we are like a large, concrete solar oven. By 1.00pm most days, we are tender, juicy and useless. It was therefore not hard to make the decision to buy an air conditioner, especially as we have to run a generator anyway. The transaction was just done when Julie called. Our son had fallen from the second floor of the guesthouse onto the concrete floor below. Bleeding, screaming, inconsolable.
I ran through some checks for Julie to do – can he stand, can he follow her finger with his eyes, ears bleeding, pupils different sizes. I then asked Taher, my driver for today, to get back to Karte Se as quickly as possible. Now it happened that we were in the worst part of town for traffic. People here use the road as a market, a bed, a saleyard, a mechanics shop. It is also a road however, and about 30,000 motorists believed they had got it right. But so did all the sick, the lame, the mechanical, the salesmen, the sleepy and the wandering-by, selling incense.
It took a horrible 35 minutes to go about 5 km. Finally we clunked into Shura Street and wheezed up to the guesthouse. My son was upstairs. A lot of blood, but he didn’t have evident brain injury, he was alert, attentive and as usual, resistant to anyone trying to find out what was hurting and so on.
We went to the hospital then. I won’t go into details, it took a long time and was stressful and difficult. The Afghan doctors are technically skilled, but have lousy patient care. They hacked off his hair, swabbed the wound, chastised him for crying and manhandled the gash in his skull. Elijah went from being cheerful and bloody, to screaming and bloody. At that point I intervened and said I would stitch it at home, rather than let it all unravel here.
Got Elijah home and superglued his head together. Settled him with our daughter and went back to the office. The air conditioners were being installed. Two adult sized cretins were putting the final touches on two badly installed air conditioners. One window was broken. One air conditioner was lopsided. There was crap everywhere. I was not in the mood for it all. When it was done, I paid the balance, less $10 for the broken window. The installer stood in front of me, a vein throbbing in his temple, and I wondered if I had misjudged it. Like in Pakistan, when a friend of mine called some workmen to account and later that night they came back and smashed the windows in his home.
The workmen went away, got new glass for the window and came back and fitted it. They did a good job. I paid them the final balance. We shook hands on it. They accidentally trod glue and grease into the carpet as they left. I cleaned it off as best I could. Sometimes you just have to be grateful.